With Capitol Hill Community Council election Thursday night, meet 7 candidates for 7 seats

A 2013 show of hands at the Capitol Hill Community Council (Image: CHS)

A 2013 show of hands at the Capitol Hill Community Council (Image: CHS)


Grand Marshall, originally uploaded by sea turtle.

Elections for the executive committee of the Capitol Hill Community Council are this Thursday at 6:30 in the Cal Anderson Shelter House. All members of the Capitol Hill community, including residents, business owners, and employees, are eligible to participate. There are seven seats open for election, and — conveniently — seven candidates.

Here’s a quick bio on each of the officers who — once elected — will help represent the Capitol Hill community in efforts ranging from transportation to development to parks to public safety.

  • Council President George Bakan is running for a second term. Bakan, the longtime editor in chief of Seattle Gay News, has been involved with the city’s LGBT activism for three decades. In 1984, Bakan co-chaired the group now known as Seattle Out and Proud, and has worked as an organizer for two National Marches on Washington, D.C. as well as for Hands Off Washington.
  • Capitol Hill native John Akamatsu, an architect by trade, is running for re-election as Vice President of the Council. Akamatsu is a member of the Capitol Hill Champion, a joint committee of the Capitol Hill Community Council and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce that deals with city planning issues around the ongoing Light Rail construction on Capitol Hill. Akamatsu’s appointment to the Champion was met with some controversy earlier this year over concerns about changes to building height restrictions, but was eventually approved in a crowded community vote.
  • Current Council secretary Erie Jones is running for re-election. Jones has more than 25 years of experience in teaching and community organizing, helping Lowell School acquire grants to build a playscape and assisting in efforts to start a P-Patch on Thomas Street. In her candidate statement, Jones wrote that she aims to “build membership and attendance” at council events.
  • Melissa Blankenship is running for the position of Council treasurer. Originally from Oak Harbor, Washington, Blankenship is currently office manager for Capitol Hill Housing. Melissa writes that she ”is looking forward to the opportunity to serve the citizens of Capitol Hill to improve the neighborhood, take the time to work collaboratively with community stakeholders and provide leadership and sound finacial management to the Capitol Hill Community Council.”
  • Member-at-large candidate Alyssa Penner came to Seattle in 2010 to work with AmeriCorps and has lived on Capitol Hill since. Penner has made her commitment to affordable housing a central tenet of her platform; a donor to the Capitol Hill Housing Foundation, Penner wrote in her statement that, “as a young adult [she has] watched as [her] peers have been pushed out of the neighborhood because of skyrocketing rents and brand new ‘high-end’ apartments geared toward higher income brackets,” and she aims to promote “smart density—density that promotes mixed-use development and prioritizes affordability over profitability.”
  • Software developer Eric Butler is seeking an at-large seat on the Council executive committee. Butler has been involved in conversation around Capitol Hill transit for the past few years — he contributed to Seattle Transit Blog between 2008 and 2010 and developed Android app FareBot, which allows a user to scan the RFID chip on transit cards to check their card’s balance. Butler also built an Android version of popular transit app busdrone, which sources public data to show an overhead real-time view of bus, ferry, and streetcar locations. Butler wrote in his candidate statement that “help[ing] make sure the community has a strong voice” around neighborhood transit development will be a major priority of his term on the council. “Planning begins soon for two major projects in the core of the neighborhood: development above our future subway station and the streetcar extension to Volunteer Park,” he writes. “These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to build great public amenities, and I’m excited to help make sure the community has a strong voice.”
  • Jeffrey Cook has been a member-at-large of the council’s executive committee since last year, and he’s running to serve another term. Cook is co-chair of the council’s subcommittee on microhousing, an issue which the council has focused much of its attention on in the recent past. In an interview last month with NPR, Cook criticized the way microhousing development is overseen by the city.“There’s dozens of these buildings popping up all over the neighborhood, and they’re not falling into the zoning laws,” Cook told NPR.Cook wrote in his candidate statement that one of his goals in serving on the council is “to affect fair standards of construction development which impact the quality of all our lives.”

The Capitol Hill Community Council is a nonprofit “created for the purpose of preserving and improving the neighborhood and encouraging a sense of community.” You can check out the latest news for the council here. For the latest CHS coverage of Community Council doings, check out our archives here.

5 thoughts on “With Capitol Hill Community Council election Thursday night, meet 7 candidates for 7 seats

  1. Hate to be dense. What exactly does the council do? or, more importantly, how much power/clout does it have as it represents the community?

  2. You can read info about what the Council does here – http://capitolhillcommunitycouncil.org/news/. The minutes might be a good start.

    As for power/clout…I suppose that would depend on who you talk to. The Council was formed to be a voice for and by residents, business owners, employees and property owners across the Hill. The effectiveness of the council and its projects are driven by those who serve on the council, participate in committees and attend meetings. Like any all-volunteer group, its status and influence can fluctuate depending on who is involved.

    Considering the election is taking place tomorrow, yours is a very timely question!

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