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Thursday, March 8, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Schell's challenger blasts mayor's handling of Mardi Gras violence

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Seattle mayoral candidate Greg Nickels today blasted Mayor Paul Schell's handling of Seattle's Mardi Gras violence and vowed to hang Kristopher Kime's death certificate on his wall if elected mayor "to remind me every day that protecting the public is my job."

Kime, 20, died after being beaten as he tried to help a woman who was being attacked during the Feb. 27 Fat Tuesday melee in Pioneer Square. His mother said Wednesday she believed public officials who adorned their walls with awards should put her son's death certificate alongside them.

At a morning press conference in Pioneer Square, Nickels, a Metropolitan King County Councilman, said he would do as Kime's mother suggested. The only declared challenger to Schell, Nickels blasted the mayor for not being at Pioneer Square when the worst of the violence broke out last Tuesday.

"I would have been on the scene that night," Nickels said. "City government is very personal and the mayor embodies the government. As the leader of this city I would have been beside the police making certain that our citizens are protected."

Nickels also criticized Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske for not providing a clear explanation of why he chose to hold police back from the crowd while fights broke out everywhere.

"We deserve better answers than we have gotten," Nickels said.

Nickels said if elected he would review whether Kerlikowske ought to retain his job.

Schell and Kerlikowske could not immediately be reached for a response.

Jim Brunner can be reached at 206-515-5628 or jbrunner@seattletimes.com

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