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,
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.