King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert receives criticism for her campaign mailer

Courtesy image

UPDATE

After several backers, including the Seattle Mariners and the Washington Association of Realtors, withdrew their support because of the racist campaign flyer she mailed out on Oct. 6, Kathy Lambert apologized for her actions on her Facebook page Friday, Oct. 8, and fired her political consultant.

“I need to apologize for the harm that the flyer has caused to Councilmember Zahilay, my colleagues, the public I have long worked for and appreciate and to my family,” Lambert wrote. “My dedication and heart are not to hurt but to serve. This message is certainly not what was intended.”

The Washington Association of Realtors has asked her to return the $1,000 they donated to her campaign. The Mariners who had donated 500 dollars to Lambert’s primary campaign now say they will donate $1,000 to her opponent Sarah Perry.

King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert receives criticism for her campaign mailer

By Hannah Saunders

A reelection campaign mailer sent out Wednesday, Oct. 6, by King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert touting opponent Sarah Perry as a “socialist puppet” has drawn the ire of fellow council members who denounce it as racist.

Holding the puppet strings is councilmember Girmay Zahilay who was photoshopped in a pinstripe suit and bright red bow tie with the caption “Sarah Perry is backed by Seattle socialist leader Girmay Zahilay who wants to defund the police.”

Zahilay, the only Black King County Councilmember, was joined by Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant (a woman of color), Vice President Kamala Harris and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (a white Jewish male).

“Supposedly, she doesn’t somehow recognize or acknowledge that it’s racist,” Perry said. “I don’t know which is worse; to send something like that’s so blatantly anti-Semitic or racist or to be an elected official in this day and age and not even know—to have a willful ignorance—about blatant racism.”

Perry said Lambert mailed two previous campaign flyers, which community members had snapped photos of and sent to her.

“The first one was I think Kathy trying to rebrand herself as an independent, and the second mailer was of me—someone had photoshopped my head on top of somebody else’s body,” said Perry. “On the back [of the second mailer], there’s a description of Kathy as a domestic violence victim—which is interesting to bully a woman on the front and then a bully woman on the back. That was an interesting decision. She’s not the only person who has experienced domestic violence and we call ourselves survivors, not victims.”

Lambert is running against Perry for the District 3 position. Lambert garnered 40% of the votes in the primary. Perry received 36%.

On Oct. 6, Councilmember Zahilay tweeted a picture of the most recent campaign mailer and wrote, “Councilmember Kathy Lambert sent the mailer below to thousands in her district. Given that every police-related policy I’ve supported has had majority Council approval, I wonder why she singled out and used her only Black colleague’s face for fear-mongering on the East Side.”

He continued in a tweet thread: “I’ve rarely talked about this, but in my two years on the council, the number of racist and xenophobic messages and even threats I get weekly has been alarming. It’s sad that my colleague would fuel these attacks for cheap political points in a race that I’m not even in.”

Lambert issued the Northshore News the following statement in defense of her message on the flyer.

“The mailer had a single theme in mind—to talk about the fact that my opponent is in lockstep with many of the policies that are causing Seattle not to be a safe place for many people to be and that I don’t want those policies coming here—a number of things have been done that make it more likely that some of the Seattle policies will end up on the Eastside,” Lambert said. “That was the entire goal, and unfortunately, there have been some thoughts that were more than that goal, and so I am sorry that had taken the prime look over the idea that some serious issues are coming with the policies that are Seattle centric.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine reshared councilmember Zahilay’s tweet and wrote, “This type of hyper-partisan, dog-whistle attack has no place in a county that is welcoming to all. We have serious issues to address to keep our communities healthy and safe and must stand united against divisive ideological politics.”

What does this mean for the upcoming election?

“The mayors are endorsing me,” Perry said. “One after another, people are deciding she’s not representing their values, so they are coming forward and being very supportive.”

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