Seattle City Council sorting out how to connect to new districts

Council member Sawant at her swearing-in ceremony earlier this month

Council member Sawant at her swearing-in ceremony earlier this month

As the new City Council settles in at City Hall, its seven district representatives are also starting to think about how to get out into their new constituent neighborhoods. During the campaign, candidates floated ideas like opening district offices, attending community council meetings, and holding coffee shop drop-in sessions.

In District 3, City Council member Kshama Sawant has one scheduled public appearance within the district’s bounds so far in the coming months. On Wednesday, Sawant will be participating in a panel discussion about jobs and equal employment issues held by the Multimedia Resources and Training Institute at the 2100 Building near 23rd Ave S and Rainier Ave S. A Sawant staffer told CHS there were no updates yet on plans for open office hours around the district, which includes Capitol Hill and the Central District.

Tuesday night, Sawant will be speaking in Belltown as she delivers her response to the State of the Union on behalf of her Socialist Alternative party:

Tuesday, Jan 12, 6pm,
Labor Temple
2800 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98121
b/t Clay St & Broad St, Belltown

Can’t make the watch party? Watch the LIVEstream here

During her first term on council, Sawant was criticized for being difficult to contact. Pamela Banks tried to use it as a wedge issue in her challenge to Sawant last year, positioning herself as the neighborhood candidate.

Voters weren’t convinced. Following Sawant’s election night speech, which focused largely on what her win represented for the socialist movement nationwide, she told CHS that her 56% win proved rent control and taxing the rich were exactly the types of policies District 3 cared about most.

Council member Debora Juarez has probably taken up the mantel of district representation more than any of her other colleagues so far. Juarez has committed to opening a part-time district office in north Seattle, taking an “in-depth tour” of the district, and identified three major projects within District 5 she intends to focus on in her first year in office. Staffers from Council president Bruce Harrell’s office haven’t yet responded to a CHS inquiry into his District 2 appearances.

Ideas for where to put district offices have included placing them inside public libraries or neighborhood service centers, like the one at 23rd and Jackson (Sawant’s former campaign headquarters is out as its slated for redevelopment this year).

A possible overhaul of the the Department of Neighborhoods could factor in how the new district reps will reach their neighborhoods. During last year’s budget negotiations, Council member Sally Bashaw put forward a resolution that called for the DON to complete a study about how to reorganize itself around the City Council districts. There are currently nine district coordinators assigned to 13 neighborhood districts which now overlay seven council districts.

The plan should include proposals for changes or modifications to the Neighborhood District Coordinators program, including proposals for updated job descriptions, protocols for working with district Council members, and improvements to the City’s relationship to the existing District Councils and City Neighborhood Council.

Meanwhile, work at City Hall continues. Sawant will chair her first Energy and Environment Committee meeting of 2016 on Tuesday at 2 PM. Committee assignments were handed out by Harrell prior to council members taking the oath of office earlier this month.

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21 thoughts on “Seattle City Council sorting out how to connect to new districts

  1. In reading about Debora Juarez’s plans for connecting with her district constituents, I’m jealous…..wish we had her instead of Sawant, who only cares about her national stature and not about effectively representing District 3.

    • yeah, i too am disappointed in our district’s representation and her smug grandstanding. though, it will be a hoot when her supporters are disappointed as well, after they realize they voted for someone who can neither enact rent control nor “tax the rich”.

  2. Just more proof that Sawant doesn’t actually care about district 3. One scheduled public appearance, in the district, in the coming MONTHS. That is unacceptable. Sadly, the sheep that fed on her rhetoric and voted her in, will most likely not stay engaged in local politics to see that they were duped.

    • It’s unfortunate her opponent was terrible. What D3 needs is a true urbanist like Rob Johnson to take on Sawant in purely policy terms, rather than a candidate who believes in balkanized planning and endorsed the no vote on Prop 1.

  3. It seems to me that the majority of people who read this blog (or comment on these threads) didn’t vote for her. So who the hell did? I sure didn’t! I just am in shock with the numbers of non support for her since she some how pulled of the win over Pamela Banks and really do want to know WHO VOTED FOR HER? Do they just not read this blog?

    • Anecdote, but plenty of people that voted for Sawant read CHS. Perhaps we don’t find the comment section to be the best place for political discourse.

      • i’m all for discourse and know that there have been comments on several blog posts here on chs where people have asked for more specifics about sawant’s “policies.”

        i’m still waiting for someone to tell me her plan to enact rent control when, to my understanding, that’s a state issue; not city.

        and what’s her plan to “tax the rich?” who is considered rich? how much more will they be taxed? how will the taxes be collected and where will they go?

        sounds like you are a sawant supporter so, please, help me understand her plan to enact these policies that she says won her the office? i’m open to hearing from any sawant supporter that reads this blog explaining how their candidate plans to enact the change she claims she can bring.

    • The disgruntled often scream the most often and the loudest. If you go to the comment section that follows a news article on Yahoo, you’d wonder where the democrats went since almost everyone who posts is a republican.

      • I can’t stand her, I think she’s basically a socialist equivalent of Donald Trump, but give credit where credit is due.

        She ran an effective campaign that got her name out there. Her campaign was also able to condense her message down to a couple slogans that fit on posters.

        Love her or hate her, just by walking down a street on Capitol Hill you knew who she was and what she stood for. I cannot say the same about Pamela Banks. It seemed the best thing about Pamela Banks for most people was that she wasn’t Sawant.

  4. She has a handful of followers who frequent this blog. But unfortunately it seems there is a decent section of the population who don’t follow media, are uninformed and were swayed by the tag lines she had plastered over the hill.

    As Matthew pointed out, they will sleep better at night knowing they did their part to “tax the rich” and “control rents” not ever knowing that those schemes were a farce.

    • Well that’s condescending, isn’t it? I took a measured look at both candidates and voted for her. Many others did as well. We’re all connected to the internet, we all have eyes, and many of us are literate.

      • If you’ve done your homework, you’re probably an exception. Unfortunately many don’t bother to follow the news let alone research candidates positions as well as stability of the foundation they grandstand on. She won because people who voted knew her name and that’s about it.

        Since you seem to of done your due diligence, can you share how she will tax the rich? What are the taxing thresholds and how will those taxes be redistributed? I’ve asked this many times and no one can tell me. Thanks in advance!

    • I expect lots of grandstanding about issues that have nothing to do with her job in district 3. I expect her to travel out of the state to try and further her real goal of being on the national stage. I expect her to deliver on none of the platforms her campaign was based on. I expect her to blame other people and “the system” when she doesn’t get her way. Should I go on?

    • @fuji_apples

      how about an outline of how she plans to accomplish the goals she set forth in her campaign? surely she wouldn’t have made those promises without some sort of game plan on how she might achieve them; right?

      i mean, the seahawks wouldn’t take the field saying they’d win the game without a playbook on how they might make that happen; even if those plays ended up not working.

      i think what people want from sawant is a look at her playbook to understand, since she won the council seat, how she’s going to make her campaign policies reality. personally, i saw nothing from her during the election that made me believe that she could fulfill those promises (and i still don’t) which is why i didn’t vote for her.

  5. Maybe one of Sawant’s supporters can volunteer to help her find 23rd Ave S and Rainier. If any of them can find their way off Capitol Hill either.

  6. Wow. I’m totally surprised at how antagonizing and condescending some of these comments are.

    I voted Sawant and consider myself well-read and researched. Do I know how she’ll accomplish x, y, & z? No. It’s not my job to know. My “job” was to weigh the two candidates and make a decision. Now it’s our collective job to pester our council members to accomplish what they promised.

    • “My “job” was to weigh the two candidates and make a decision.”

      actually, your job was to understand what each candidate was proposing and asking, either yourself or the candidate, how they’ll accomplish what they promise. and THEN voting for the one you thought could actually fulfill on those promises.

      if i told you i could make you a millionaire, all you needed to do was give me $100K of your own money, you’d certainly question me about how i’d do that.

      but your comment speaks volumes about the kind of person that voted for sawant. you saw some catchy slogans and thought, “that’s what i want.” but you didn’t think any further than that when you cast your vote. you didn’t think if those policies could actually be enacted.

      think it’s antagonizing and condescending all you want; it’s not (btw, you can come down off your cross now). it’s called thinking further than a cardboard sign. when someone says they are going to do something for me, before i give them the power to do it, i want to understand, even at a high level, how they are going to do it. even if it’s outside my exact realm of understanding.

      your candidate won the election. fine, we all have to live with that. but it’s well within my, and everyone who comments on this blog and in this district, right to now ask the question of, “how’s it going to happen?” that falls within your “…pester our council members…” comment.

      • I agree completely. I would only add that is shouldn’t be the responsibility of citizens to “pester” an office-holder into following through with campaign promises. If Sawant really meant what she said, and had specific plans to accomplish certain things, then she should be doing that as we speak.

      • “The kind of person who voted for Sawant”
        I was presented with 2 choices and I found more promise with Sawant. Would I personally benefit from an increased minimum wage or affordable rent (lifted from two of her cardboard slogans)? No. I’m part of the techy scene that is making it harder for others to afford living in this district.

        So, zeebleoop, I did not see “some catchy slogans and [think], ‘that’s what i want'”. I saw a candidate with a history of fulfilling campaign promises, and the ability to mobilize marginalized communities to get involved in council races. There are some things that I’m not super pleased with that Sawant has said and done, but when I weighed the two candidates and their track records, I came out in favor of Sawant.

        I agree with you that it’s our right to ask “how’s this going to happen”. What I take issue with is how rude you have been in approaching this subject with individuals who think or vote differently than you.

      • Exactly what campaign promises has Sawant “fulfilled.”? Yes, she did play a role in getting the $15 minimum wage, but she didn’t do that alone….the Mayor, for example, was a significant part of it. And if you think Sawant is capable of instituting rent control and “taxing the rich,” you will be waiting a very long time.