City Council member Bruce Harrell once again signaled his intention to become Council president when his office dolled out new committee assignments on December 18th. The newly seated council still needs to approve the rosters and officially vote in the new president on January 4th.
Council member Kshama Sawant, who will represent the newly created District 3 in 2016, will again chair the Energy and Environment Committee. It wasn’t her first choice. The socialist city council member previously said she wanted chair the council’s reshaped affordable housing committee.
During her first term in office, Sawant pushed hard for ambitious housing policies like rent control and using the City’s bonding authority to build new affordable apartments. She was the driving force behind the Council’s rent control resolution and a proposed rent control for small businesses. On the energy committee, Sawant worked on a proposal to fund a city-owned Internet service provider pilot project (the plan died in budget negotiations).
Committee chairs play a key role in guiding new legislation. Current Council President Tim Burgess will chair Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods & Finance, where he will mold the recommendations laid out by the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda Committee.
The Council’s most progressive bloc will make up the core of the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee, with a roster that includes incoming member Lisa Herbold as chair and Council members Mike O’Brien and Sawant. Bicycle and mass transit advocates will be happy to see O’Brien secured the chair for Sustainability & Transportation.
Incoming Council member Rob Johnson will chair the important Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee while fellow newcomer Lorena Gonzalez will take over the newly created committee on Gender Equity, Safe Communities & New Americans.
January 4th will also include a ceremonial swearing in for council members. Sawant has called on her supporters to pack the chambers to demand a millionaires tax and 12 weeks paid family leave for all Seattle workers.