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Capitol Hill Community Council elects new 2015/2016 officers

10407343_10153952509378696_3817128998053370908_nTalking about goals of where to go from here instead of frustrations about change seems like a more conducive objective for any community.

This was the common talking point at the Capitol Hill Community Council meeting Thursday night. But the most important item of business was the council’s annual June election. Congratulations — all candidates were approved:

  • President Zachary Pullin
  • Vice President Elliot Helmbrecht
  • Secretary Natalie Curtis
  • Treasurer Mike Archambault
  • At-Large members: Lauren Burgeson, Reiny Cohen, and Jesse Perrin

The council also honored council members Lauren Mathisen and Derek DeWolf for “their support, passion, commitment, and service” over the last year. Pullin wrote about the election and the value of bringing new voices into the conversations shaping the neighborhood in this essay for CHS.

Also on the agenda

  • Michael Wells, executive director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, presented the organization’s Capitol Hill 2020 planIn the past year, we have been talking to a lot of stakeholders all around the neighborhood about the kinds of issue that you all are talking about. About development and cultural identity, and [public] safety,” Wells said.
  • Looking onward onto how to promote positive involvement in the neighborhood, Dylan Cate, who is a community organizer for state representative Brady Walkinshaw, presented “Working Together,” an initiative to get people involved in the politics and community within the neighborhood. Cate’s discussion was about some preliminary planning for the initiative — we’ll have more about the program soon.

The council’s meetings are held on the third Thursday of every month and provides a space for the community to discuss civic issues. You can learn more at

Statements from the new officers are below:

Zachary Pullin [running for President]
Why I want to run: to continue the work of improving the neighborhood, helping neighbors and engaged citizens create shared community, to produce events, programming, and conversations that inspire, motivate, and encourage action and participation, and to help shape the narrative for our neighborhood in this time of rapid change and growth. Plus, I’m really looking forward to implementing and continuing to work internally to create a more sustainable organization (funding, programs, committees, etc).
Brief resume: Zachary is a Chippewa Cree tribal member, graduate of Western Washington University, and currently works at SEIU Healthcare NW Training Partnership. He has an extensive background in community organizing, communications, leadership, training, and connecting movements. A community activist committed to pursuing racial, economic, gender, and social justice through service, Zachary served in Peace Corps and the 2012 Equality Ride. Recently appointed by Mayor Murray to the Seattle Housing Authority, he also serves on the board of the Gender Justice League board, Victory Campaign Board, and 43rd District Democrats. Additionally, he serves as Acting President of the Capitol Hill Community Council and is a member of the NW Two Spirit Society, SPD’s Native American Advisory Council, WA Family Unity Act Workgroup, GSBA’s Public Policy Task Force, Capitol Hill Eco-District’s Equity and Engagement Subcommittee, and Capitol Hill Champion. He was honored to represent the LGBTQ and Native community as 2014 Seattle Pride Parade Grand Marshal. In his spare time, Zachary enjoys freelance writing for local and national publications and catching up on local politics while sipping Porchlight coffee and listening to Nina Simone.
About me: Born in Montana, moved to Spokane (grew up in North Spokane), attended college in Bellingham, and finally returned to the Northwest after traveling with Peace Corps and other opportunities and have called Seattle home for almost 4 years.
Connection to Captiol Hill: Live near First AME, volunteer with a few organizations, and thoroughly enjoy Oddfellows gluten-free biscuits and the Broadway Farmer’s Market!
What I hope to see/work on for 2015-2016: I hope to continue working on fundraising, seeking out grants, increasing participation, identifying partnerships and collaboration opportunities, and producing meaningful events that connects people!

Elliot Helmbrecht [running for Vice President]

After a year of participating on the Capitol Hill Community Council, I have decided to throw my hat in the ring and run to serve in 2015/2016 as the community council’s Vice President. As we continue to grow and transform our role as a council, I want to help expand our outreach to other groups in the neighborhood and throughout the city. I also want to play an active part in building our membership and establishing fundraising opportunities to put the council on a sustainable funding path. We have had many successful events in the last year – the Winter Open House and a neighborhood gentrification conversation – and many more productive community meetings. We are just getting started and I would greatly appreciate your support.

About Elliot: Born and raised in the upper-Midwest, Elliot is comfortable with awkward silences and weird combinations of jell-o desserts. If he sees a dog tied up outside a store he will stop and pet it without asking for permission first – he still has all ten fingers. You might see him running around Capitol Hill looking a little too happy to be running. And he will claim to enjoy hiking but really he’s just a sucker for taking in a good view. Elliot has a favorite viewing spot in every neighborhood of Seattle that he will share with you if you ask.

Mike Archambault [running for Treasurer]

 Natalie Curtis [running for Secretary]
  1. Why I want to run: At Large Member- to help bring the community closer together while still embracing change
  2. Brief resume: B.A in Rehab Studies. Microsoft 2012-2014 Swedish Hospital- 2014-present
  3. About me: Moved from Texas to Seattle 3 year now, wanted to give back and be involved in the community I lived and worked in.
  4. Connection to Capitol Hill: Live on Broadway, work at Swedish, and play on the Hill!
  5. What I hope to see/work on for 2015-2016: Hope to see more diversity as well as affordable housing for all. Also wanting to see the positive changes to the community that still preserve the historic charm.

Jesse Perrin [running for At-Large member]

Why I want to run:  I am interested in running for this position to provide leadership to the council in engaging residents around important issue-areas to make Capitol Hill an affordable and livable area for everyone.  Homelessness, rising housing costs, and gentrification are pressing issues for the area and can be addressed with inclusive engagement and outreach. Capitol Hill also has a thriving neighborhood with strengths including small businesses, active individuals, and dynamic organizations.  I hope to connect these issues and identify neighborhood strengths for the entirety of Capitol Hill.

Brief resume: Jesse is Southern-born and raised and recent transplant to Seattle.  Jesse has extensive experience in community organizing and movement building to eradicate inequities facing multi-communities.  Soon, he will be graduating with a Masters in Policy and Administration from the School of Social Work with recent experience working in the Seattle Mayor’s policy shop.

About me: I was born and raised in rural Georgia to a working class family.  After high school graduation, I moved to Atlanta and received my Bachelor’s in Sociology and then relocated to Seattle to pursue my graduate degree.  Seattle has also provided me my husband Julien and amazing dog Petunia.  I enjoy watching movies, building community, debating politics, and traveling.

Connection to CH: Capitol Hill was the neighborhood I resided in for my initial two years in Seattle. Being in graduate school, I decided to relocate to better my match my limited income.  I will always call Capitol Hill home and I look forward to making it my permanent address to live and play.  The LGBTQ visibility is a big connection for me and I hope to see the neighborhood continue to be full of rainbow flags and community!

What you hope to see/work on for 2015-2016: I hope to further collaborate with other organizations in the neighborhood on different projects and programs.  I believe this will forge better relationships and create more participation with the council. I hope to continue the focus on important issue areas and providing multiple views to better engage the community.  Promoting LGBTQ visibility and the voices of poor people will also be a priority for my role in the council.  And providing free kittens to everyone!

Reiny Cohen [running for At-Large member] Over the course of my life, Capitol Hill has drawn me in over and over again. As a teenager it provided respite from the hells of suburban high school life, in my early 20’s it was a great place to go on dates, in my late 20’s I started taking in the culture, and just before my 30th birthday I finally got to call Capitol Hill my home. For the first time in my life I felt like I belonged somewhere, that I was accepted, and that my values finally lined up with my physical surroundings.

I am running for Council Member At Large because I passionately care about this community. Rents are skyrocketing, hate crimes are on the rise, broadway businesses are flipping over all the time. I think it’s vital to the spirit of the neighborhood to keep Capitol Hill accessible to people of varying income levels and backgrounds, and that it remain a safe haven for people of all types. I care about access to public transportation, walkable streets, and access to parks. I want our community to be safe, inviting, affordable, and thriving.

I care the most about the rising cost of living on the hill. It’s nearly impossible to buy a house on the median income, and rents are out of control. In 2010 I paid $800/mo for a 500 sq/ft apartment. Today I pay 40% more than that for a much smaller space. Keeping our neighborhood affordable for the young, creative, LGBTQ, hipster population is critical to the character of Capitol Hill. It crushes me to think that when I inevitably move in with my partner, even with 2 incomes we won’t be able to afford a space large enough to house us both. I’m not satisfied by sitting on the sidelines and complaining about it, I want to jump in and do something.

More about me: I grew up in Kirkland Wa, and fled to the city as fast as I could. I worked in the Seattle radio industry both on and off the air for 15 years, before jumping in to political communications. As an adult I took classes at both North Seattle Community College and Seattle Central, but was forced to quit when costs became prohibitive. I am currently Communications Director for Washington United for Fair Revenue, a 100+ member coalition united in the fight for fair revenue solutions to our state budget. I am also the Program Director for Institute for a Democratic Future, a 6 month young adults civics program. I recently, unceremoniously, came tumbling out of the closet at the age of 34, which explains why, for years, you’ve been able to find me around Capitol Hill belting out karaoke at Rock Box and Crescent, “woo-ing” at drag shows, and shopping at Trendy Wendy.

 Lauren Burgeson [running for At-Large member]
Bio: Lauren has been a resident of Capitol Hill since 2012, having moved here from Pittsburgh, PA to attend Seattle University. She received a B.A. in Public Affairs and Urban Studies during her time there and contributed to the research of some amazing professors as they studied housing policies as they relate to racial segregation and the impact of property tax delinquency for low-income earners and city budgets. Outside of school, she has also taken positions with advocacy organizations and notable elected officials in Seattle, learning a lot about the city’s local political climate. When she’s not working, she spends a lot of time going to various music and art shows around Capitol Hill and supporting some of her amazing friends. She likes to view herself as a bridge between two communities in the neighborhood, the civic and the arts.

Why I’m running: I have been attending CHCC meetings off and on since I moved here and would like to make more of contribution to the neighborhood. I can’t imagine living anywhere else in Seattle and love living so close to all of my favorite restaurants, businesses, neighbors, and friends. I’m really interested in finding solutions to a lot of the pressure that Capitol Hill’s growth is placing on the neighborhood.
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