Alison Holcomb, Weighing a Jump Into Politics, Wants to Move Beyond Pot

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Pot reformer Alison Holcomb started hearing late last week about a political robo-poll testing her name against City Council members Nick Licata and Mike O'Brien. "I got a couple of calls from Licata supporters saying, 'you're not thinking of running against Licata, are you?' " the ACLU lawyer recalls.

She isn't necessarily, and she still doesn't know who was conducting the poll and why. But she concedes that she has been talking to people about a possible run for some elected office--and it's not because she wants to stir up yet another marijuana revolution.

The woman who ran the victorious Initiative 502 campaign--garnering local and national attention, including a Seattle Weekly cover story-- is now ready to move on to other issues. She ticks off a few: "our school system, gun violence, the police department and development...really thinking about how development can better support both community and public safety."

"This is all very preliminary," adds Holcomb, who describes herself as "both progressive and pragmatic." And her views reflect it. "I don't have a specific policy proposal," she says frequently. But she throws out a few ideas.

On schools, she laments the way students who are suspended or expelled often end up "cycling through the criminal justice system." So she says she'd like to take a look at school discipline policies that force trouble kids out of the classroom.

Tackling gun violence, she muses, may require doing more than enacting laws specifically related to firearms, such as current proposals to mandate universal background checks and ban automatic weapons. Instead, she says, she'd want to look at the "data" around what kind of violence is occurring--say attacks related to domestic violence--and then work on combating those issues.

Holcomb says she has no precise position on one development controversy, the mayor's plan to dramatically increase density at South Lake Union. She says she worries, however, about how we may be "pushing lower income people out of the core of the city."

If she does refine her positions and take the plunge into political life, she says she recognizes that one challenge will be getting voters to see her as about more than marijuana. Another will be figuring out what she wants to run for.

Asked about Licata and O'Brien, she says that both have values that she shares. "I don't see myself running against either of them," she discloses, adding that "not wanting to get into fights with friends" is a big reason why. But she leaves the door open to running against Council members Sally Bagshaw and Richard Conlin, both of whom are also up for reelection this year. "I'd have to look closely at their records," she says.

She concedes she has floated the possibility of running for mayor at some point, an appealing idea given the lack of women mayors this city has had, but doesn't sound enthusiastic about doing so this year given the already crowded race.

Also, the outcome of the mayoral race could leave her with another political option. If state Sen. Ed Murray wins, his seat would need to be filled. Holcomb speculates that would go to state Rep. Jamie Pedersen. VoilĂ , a House seat would open in the 43rd District, which just happens to be where Holcomb lives.

Holcomb is an extremely methodical individual. As I-502 campaign director, she relied heavily on polls to shape the initiative's direction, and then strategically went after support from mainstream figures. So quite likely, we'll see a few more surveys before Holcomb decides what she wants to go after and when.

See Also: Pot Mama

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