Seattle Gay News chief next in line to lead Capitol Hill Community Council

Come meet those who heeded the call and have decided to serve their community. The Capitol Hill Community Council election is Thursday night. Like any good council election, it’s as much appointment as a vote but it’s your chance to meet the people taking on important issues for Capitol Hill like the Melrose Promenade, the community process around the development of the Capitol HIll Station property and more. All hail King George. You can also thank those who have served like outgoing president Norma Jean Straw for her excellent work. Candidate statements are below. Thursday’s council meeting and election begins at 6p at the Cal Anderson Shelter House.



George Bakan: For 26 years George Bakan has been the Editor-in-Chief for Seattle Gay News. He has been overseeing the operation of the SGN weekly newspaper since 1983. George was born in Seattle, raised in rural Bellevue and in the 1960s he moved with his family to Eastern Washington. George returned to Seattle in the early 1980s to become a gay activist. Some of the highlights of his almost 30-years of gay community activism are organizing the Seattle AIDS Action Committee in 1983, which later became Mobilization Against AIDS. During the early days of the AIDS epidemic George and the Seattle AIDS Action Committee organized an annual candle light vigil at SCCC at Pine and Broadway on Capitol Hill. During his early days as an activist he co-chaired the 1984 Freedom Day Committee, now known as Seattle Out and Proud. George was the regional co-chair for the 1987 and 1993 National Marches on Washington, DC. During both organizing efforts Bakan led the Northwest sponsored push for bi and transsexual inclusion at the national events. He was on the Hands Off Washington (HOW) Executive Committee and was for a time Vice Chair for Hands Off Washington. HOW worked statewide on LGBT political issues from 1992 to 1996. Thought of retirement does not suit George. The LGBT veteran activist continues his daily oversight at the SGN and looks towards future projects, including health issues for old gay guys and setting up training and leadership workshops for young LGBT activists and a tree planting project in Seattle parks to honor people who’ve died of AIDS.

Vice President

John Akamatsu: I am a Seattle native, who grew up on Capitol Hill, and attended St Joes. (I remember the Volunteer Park Cafe when it was a Volunteer Park Groceries that we nicknamed Grouchos after the sour old man who ran the store.) While pursuing degrees in Fine Art and English Lit at the UW, I moved back to Capitol Hill, before attending architecture graduate school in Los Angeles. Since returning to Seattle, I have worked at two acclaimed architecture firms, and most importantly, put down my own roots, and built myself a house on Capitol Hill behind Group Health. Currently, I operate a small architecture firm that specializes in residential and commercial projects. I also run from my home a business that supplies treats and toys for small companion herbivores such as bunnies, chinchillas, and guinea pigs. I served as a Vice-President of Education of Seattle Opera’s Bravo Board, helping to grow it to the largest under-40 arts group in the nation. I also served with other social and academic non-profits in the Seattle, Sydney, and Los Angeles areas. Over the past 45 years, I have watched the ebb and flow of Capitol Hill as it has gone through its many manifestations. But the next few years will bring unprecedented changes to Capitol Hill. The new light rail system will offer for the first time RAPID transit to Capitol Hill, bringing thousands of riders to the area each day. Changes in zoning will allow greater density, meaning not only more residents but more commercial interests. The recent attempt by City Council members to introduce the Regulatory Reform package’s changes to Capitol Hill and other neighborhoods without careful, considered input from the largest neighborhood under the City council’s wing underscored the differences between Capitol Hill and the other neighborhoods. It showed how those changes and improvements that might be good for Columbia City or the University District could have detrimental consequences for the residents, present and future. For this reason, I would like to create a greater presence for the area that champions Capitol Hill, so that we are not treated as our smaller, undeveloped or under populated peers. To meet those changes, we need unprecedented advocacy and meaningful engagement with our civic leaders and those other forces that shape our neighborhood. It is not that the Hill ranks above the other neighborhoods or seeks special status, but with its proximity to the downtown area, two universities, major hospitals, and to I-5, 520, and I-90, Capitol Hill will become the major neighborhood player of the entire region. As Alice B Toklas wrote: “What is sauce for the goose may be sauce for the gander but is not necessarily sauce for the chicken, the duck, the turkey or the guinea hen.” Changes are coming, but we must keep the neighborhood safe, interestingly vibrant, walkable, and yet adaptive to new possible developments, uses, and citizens.


Dr. Ruben Krishnananthan: I moved to Seattle from Australia in 2005. My wife and I were attracted to Capitol Hill because of its diverse, eclectic, inner city feel. The walkability and proximity to downtown, as well as the parks, restaurants and independent cinemas all served to keep us in the neighbourhood from our first days in Seattle until now. Capitol Hill is a wonderful neighbourhood that reminds me in many ways of the inner city in many other countries, especially now that light rail and a streetcar are being added. This neighbourhood is in the process of change, partially due to proposed zoning alterations put forward by the Seattle City Council. My goal for the coming year would be to aid City Hall in its attempts to increase urban density, without damaging the character of Capitol Hill. I have lived in many places, including Melbourne, Australia, repeatedly voted one of the 10 most livable cities in the world. I have also visited rapidly growing cities such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and travelled through every inhabited continent. In so doing, I have witnessed the efforts governments have made to evolve for the future; their triumphs and errors. I bring a global perspective to the Capitol Hill Community Council on the benefits and potential pitfalls of increasing population density, in the face of Global Warming and rising fuel prices. My educational background is in Medicine, with a Medical Degree from the University of Melbourne, Australia. I am a Diagnostic Radiologist and Nuclear Physician, Board certified in the U.S. in both specialties; I am also a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists. Cur
rently I am in private practice, but I maintain a visiting faculty position as Assistant Professor at the University of Washington. I am also Medical Director of Radiology at Harrison Hospital. As a physician, communication is essential when looking to deliver appropriate care to patients. I am used to listening to a wide variety of people and looking for solutions. Hence, I look forward to representing the diverse interests of the ever changing faces of our great neighbourhood.


Erie Jones: My name is Erie Jones and I am submitting my name for Secretary of the Capitol Hill Community Council. I have lived, and also worked on the hill for 35 years and counting. In my view it is one of the best urban neighborhoods in the country. Simply stated, I would like to contribute to keeping it one of the best. This would include maintaining our diversity and tolerance for all, promoting affordable living, keeping local businesses healthy, creatively managing growth and development, preserving our cultural and architectural heritage, and especially maintaining our neighborhood feeling of mutual support. I have taught in Seattle Public Schools for 23 years, including at Lowell Elementary where I helped get the grants for our accessible playscape. I helped plan and build the Thomas Street P-Patch and am active in our neighborhood block watch. I have also helped, financially and through “work parties” set up small businesses on the hill. I am a musician and currently teach music at Dusty Strings in Fremont.

At-Large Officers (in alpha order)

Nathan Barnes: My name is Nathan Barnes and I’ve lived on Capitol Hill since 2003. In 2004, we bought our first home, a condominium at the Garden Court on 16th Avenue, where we still live today. I am a recent graduate of the University of Washington School of Law where I focused on studying state and local government legal issues. Ideally, my background and training will be helpful to the Capitol Hill Community Council. Over the last nine years, we’ve seen a lot of changes in our neighborhood and I would like to be a more active participant in that evolution. And now with law school behind me, the time feels right to start giving back to my community. My hope is that through the Capitol Hill Community Council, I can do my part to support this little section of Seattle that has given me so much. Thank you for your consideration.

Jeffrey Cook: Jeffrey has lived on Capitol Hill for almost 15 years, first as a renter and now as an owner of a 1980 condo unit with his partner, Erik. He attends Central Lutheran Church by Cal Anderson Park and works in Seattle’s lively theatre arts, fine arts, and music community. Jeffrey is a life-long resident of Washington State and after witnessing many changes to the neighborhood he loves and calls home he is ready to take on a more active role in shaping its exciting future. His main goals for Capitol Hill include creating a strong community filled with neighborly connections, having clean and safe streets to shop in and enjoy, and preserving the areas independent businesses and treasured buildings while welcoming new construction that matches the current personality of “The Hill”. Jeffrey is active in his church, his work, and his building with various committees, officer roles, and community events. He has a BA from WSU, Pullman (his home town!), and an MFA in Theatre Arts from UO, Eugene, Oregon.

Seth Geiser: I am a 28 year-old urban designer and a Capitol Hill resident of 4 years. I earned Master’s degrees in Urban Planning and Design and in Public Administration at UW, with a focus on human-scale design and policy. I worked for Seattle DPD for 3+ years. Recently, I’ve been playing with streets as part of the Renegade Planners Collective. Capitol Hill is my home. Now living at Pike and Broadway, it’s hard to imagine being elsewhere. Life here is the tops, a diverse congregation of mini-neighborhoods, each with character and feel, which add to a delightful whole. But, the secret is out, folks. People outside of Capitol Hill have noticed what we have here and they’re coming to share a part of it. So we have a choice: We can reactively deal with new development proposals and try to stem change as it comes at us, or we can find ways to proactively collaborate while our neighborhood grows and adapts. In pursuit of the latter option, I’d be thrilled to serve as an at-large officer and continue the good work of the CHCC.

Michele Gomes: I arrived in Seattle in 1995 from Rhode Island. I’ve been living on Capitol Hill for 14 years and I love my neighborhood. I rent an apartment at The Dublin and own a Video Production company with an office on 12th and Pike. The parks, cafes, music and healing art venues, diversity of restaurants and people make this an incredible place to live. I consider the Hill to be a big community garden and it inspires me every day as I walk around taking in all its beauty. As a community member I am committed to assuring that the character of Capitol Hill will not be damaged and the environment remains safe and beautiful. It is my intention to represent the interests of renters, pedestrians, and local small business owners.

Lisa Kothari: I have lived in Seattle for the past seven years and during that time have resided in Capitol Hill. Our first residence was in the Mullholland Apartments building and three years ago we purchased our first home on 10th Avenue East directly across from the new light rail station. Throughout my tenure on Capitol Hill, I have embraced our community frequenting the shops, restaurants, and getting to know the local merchants. I stroll Cal Anderson Park 4-5 times a day with my Scotty observing the neighborhood and how it’s continually changing on an almost-daily basis. As a citizen committed to our neighborhood, I am excited to serve on the Community Council to hear the concerns of my neighbors and represent those interests to our local government along with preserving and sustaining our unique community for all – residents and visitors alike. On a personal note, I am a writer who has written both for the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog and the Seattle PI.

Colin Scott: Harvard & Denny, Capitol Hill resident since 10/2003. Please consider me for the Capitol Hill Community Council. I’m originally from rural Ohio where I studied Anthropology at The College of Wooster. I’m a pedestrian commuter, recreational biker, and bustin’-out-of-town driver that parks on our streets (Zone 21). I don’t ride Metro with weekly regularity, though I do use both it and light rail. Design of mixed use structures should incorporate smaller commercial spaces (rather than fewer & larger) rain displacing awnings, and publicly accessible areas or benches. I’m a regular user of our city’s parks with those in our neighborhood my most frequented. I’d like to see a bocce or petanque court on the hill. I’ve worked a guerrilla garden here for several years. I believe that a healthy business environment benefits us all despite my practice of gravitating towards free and cheap activities. I would like to explore what can be done to encourage new businesses beyond those in the restaurant and bar industries. New development in our area should aim for timeless utilitarianism…whatever that means. I have ideas and opinions but am not dogmatic with them. Let me help carve a better hill for all of our futures here. Thank you.

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