In aftermath of Councilmember Kathy Lambert’s racist mailing, her Republican colleague Reagan Dunn doubles down on his own racist, inflammatory, and dishonest campaigning
Renton – Today, Renton City Councilmember and candidate for County Council Kim-Khanh Van called on Reagan Dunn to cease his dishonest, racially insensitive campaigning. At a forum Wednesday, the same day six of his colleagues on the County Council denounced County Councilmember Kathy Lambert’s blatantly bigoted campaign mail piece, Reagan Dunn doubled down on the same kind of false, inflammatory, and racist campaign tactics.
Dunn, who has endorsed Lambert and remains the only member of the King County Council endorsing her, brought with him a printed photo from Facebook of Van from a June 2020 vigil and rally at Renton City Hall in honor of George Floyd and others who have lost their lives. Dunn used the photo to say he “doesn’t believe” his opponent’s position on public safety. On the Renton City Council, Van voted for the hiring of additional officers and has stated clearly throughout the campaign that she does not support defunding police budgets.
Dunn stated, “Yeah, you have supported defunding the police. I mean I have a picture of you marching to defund the police with a sign to defund the police,” citing the photo of Van standing in the vicinity of someone holding a sign with “defund the police” on it. The photo Dunn chose was taken from a series of photos including Reverend Dr. Linda Smith, founder of Renton -South King County Black Alliance for Equity, Inclusion and Justice (formerly known as Renton-King County Alliance for Justice) and rally and vigil organizer. Reverend Dr. Linda Smith is also co-chair of Renton African American Pastors and Renton Police (RAAP) with the Renton Police Department Chief. Reverend Dr. Smith has presented awards to Renton Police Officers for “Extraordinary Efforts in Building Community Relationships.”
“It is inappropriate for Dunn, or any candidate, to cherry pick and place before the people untruth. The event Dunn references was an event that actually brought healing to our community,” said Rev. Dr. Smith. “We do not control who shows up with what signs. But what we do control is truth. The truth of this matter is that Dunn did not represent the event properly.”
Smith continued, “We have always stood with the Renton Police Department here in the City of Renton and do not, nor have we, advocated for ‘Defunding the Police.’ We have worked alongside our Renton Police Department for over eight years cultivating relationships and developing programs to unify and bring healing and justice to the community. Unlike Dunn, Councilmenber Van showed up to listen and work to heal and build trust in the community and government.”
“Although Councilmember Dunn has a long record of marginalizing communities of color, this was a new low. To politicize a moment from a peaceful vigil, and use it to continue to misrepresent my clear record, is unacceptable. It is disappointing he would stoop to these levels to win a campaign. Our district deserves better,” said Van.
Dunn was the sole vote against declaring racism a public health crisis in King County, as well as the sole vote against the county’s $600 million COVID recovery package, against much needed funding for homelessness, and against hazard pay for essential workers.
Dunn also joined his Republican colleagues on the County Council opposing an advisory committee regarding the Sheriff’s selection, enhancing the trust and fairness for immigrant communities, providing indigent individuals counsel, establishing October 12th as Indigenous’ People’s Day and Juneteenth 19th as a recognition of Juneteenth in Martin Luther King County, and more.
Former King County Councilmember Larry Gosset, a local civil rights icon said, “My former colleague Republican Reagan Dunn’s unfair criticism of Kim-Khanh Van is based on bad logic – guilt by association. Rather than looking at her record and listening to her positions, Dunn wants voters to judge her on false pretenses and spread fear. Unlike Councilmember Dunn, Kim-Khanh is the thoughtful and responsible leader District 9 deserves.”
Renton City Councilmember Ryan McIrvin, who also attended the vigil and rally, said, “Councilmember Kim-Khanh Van has a clear record voting in support of needed funding for our Police Department, including the hiring of additional officers, and safety investments to keep every neighbor safe. That is the kind of leadership we need now on the County Council. For these reasons and her progressive, non-partisan work, I endorse Councilmember Van.”
King County Deputy Prosecutor and Federal Way City Councilmember Leandra Craft said, “I was truly disappointed to hear that Councilmember Dunn attempted to mislead voters and continues to misrepresent Councilmember Van’s clear record. King County voters deserve accurate and honest information from their elected officials.”
State Representative David Hackney, former Representative Zack Hudgins, and Renton Councilmember Ed Prince were among many other local elected officials who were present at the rally and vigil, and they made their comments clear of Councilmember Dunn’s unacceptable behavior.
State Representative David Hackney said, “The vigil and rally Councilmember Dunn is knowingly misrepresenting was an important opportunity for our community to come together, support our BIPOC neighbors, and stand against racism in any form. For Councilmember Dunn to use that healing moment for political gain is unacceptable – we deserve better. I call on his endorsers to rescind their endorsements and for our neighbors to vote for the thoughtful and community-oriented leader in this race, Councilmember Van.”
Renton Councilmember Ed Prince, “Keeping every neighbor safe and building trust with community requires leaders willing to bring people together, have tough conversations, and do the work that leads us forward. Councilmember Van works in building trust with the community and votes to hire officers reflective of our community, funding for body cameras, and additional resources for mental health navigators to support our Renton Police Department and community.”
Former longtime State Representative Zack Hudgins added, “For 16 years, Republican Reagan Dunn has served on the King County Council. His avoidance of the record in favor of repeated fear mongering makes it clear he doesn’t deserve four more years. It is extremely disappointing that he would distort Kim’s clear record advocating for strong community safety for his own benefit. Voters deserve better, which is why I am supporting Kim-Khanh Van.”
“Our community deserves a real representative who represents District 9 instead of worrying about Seattle,” said Holly Hill, District 9 resident.
Although Dunn made himself available for Wednesday night’s in-person forum in Enumclaw, he skipped a Washington Coalition for Police Accountability candidate forum held via Zoom, an opportunity to discuss the issue at length and in depth.