First elected in 2009, Pete Holmes has worked at all levels of government to address needed reforms and policies to protect public safety and make sure that our criminal justice system reflects our shared values. Holmes has helped change statewide sentencing laws to protect immigrants from deportation, worked to both legalize cannabis and vacate past possession criminal records, developed new incarceration diversion programs to help young people avoid lifelong criminal records, and redoubled the city’s efforts to address gun violence. Pete has served as a consistent liaison between the City and the federal judge overseeing the Department of Justice consent decree to ensure that lasting and meaningful structural changes are enacted at the Seattle Police Department.
Upon taking office, Pete dismissed all pending marijuana possession cases and declined to file subsequent charges. He became a primary sponsor of Initiative 502, culminating in Washington’s historic 2012 vote to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adult use. He has been and remains an outspoken critic of the War on Drugs.
In his first year as City Attorney, Pete also took action to reduce prosecutions of people driving with a license suspended in the third degree, also known as “driving while poor.” To avoid mandatory deportation of documented immigrants convicted of minor crimes, he further instructed prosecutors to stop requesting suspended jail sentences totaling 365 days. Pete subsequently helped convince the Legislature to limit the maximum jail sentence for all misdemeanors to 364 days, limiting the reach of dysfunctional federal immigration laws across the state. He also successfully defended Seattle’s status as a Welcoming City to immigrants despite a Trump Administration’s ongoing hostility.
Pete partnered with King County to launch a groundbreaking regional firearms unit to enforce civil extreme risk gun surrender orders, one which was recently used in partnership with federal authorities to a seize weapons arsenal maintained by white supremacist neo-nazi accelerationists. A champion for police reform, Pete was an original member of Seattle Police Department’s first civilian oversight body, the Office of Professional Accountability Review Board, and served as chair for 5 years. He is also a member of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement.
Pete hasn’t hesitated to defend Seattle’s interests, suing opioid manufacturers for the havoc they wrought against public health, beating back Tim Eyman’s unconstitutional and harmful measure that threatened Seattle transit service, and he took on the Monsanto Corporation for the toxic PCB pollution the company caused to Seattle’s Duwamish River. He is a founding member of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence and Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration. Governor Inslee appointed Pete to the state’s “Sunshine Committee” to ensure government transparency and public access to records.
Pete was born in Richmond, Virginia. The middle child of five brothers, he grew up on a small family farm in Buckingham County, where he attended a public school. Prior to serving as Seattle’s City Attorney, Pete worked in Seattle as a business litigation attorney for almost 25 years. He graduated from Yale College in 1978 with a B.A. in American Studies. He worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., in Washington D.C., before earning his J.D. at the University of Virginia School of Law in 1984.
Pete and his wife, Ann, are the proud parents of two adult children and live in South Seattle’s Seward Park neighborhood.