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Seattle’s new district-based City Council ready to be sworn in

Sawant on election night (Image: CHS)

Sawant on election night (Image: CHS)

The nine Seattle City Council members that will represent the city’s seven new districts and two at-large seats will take their ceremonial oath of office on Monday. In their first meeting of 2016, the five returning members and four newcomers will also vote on the Council president and on their council committee assignments.

Here is the new council roster if you need a refresher:p2173538

District 1: Lisa Herbold
District 2: Bruce Harrell
District 3: Kshama Sawant
District 4: Rob Johnson
District 5: Debora Juarez
District 6: Mike O’Brien
District 7: Sally Bagshaw
Position 8: Tim Burgess
Position 9: Lorena Gonzalez

After a decisive victory in November, Sawant will be the first to lead District 3 which is anchored by Capitol Hill and the Central District. In the coming months the new Council members will need figure out how to best represent their new constituencies. Sawant will have an especially tough challenge in District 3, perhaps the most politically divided district in Seattle.

Harrell has lined up for the Council president position, a quest solidified last month when his office handed out proposed committee assignments. If the new Council approves, Sawant will again chair the Energy and Environment Committee. It wasn’t her first choice. The socialist previously said she wanted chair the council’s reshaped affordable housing committee.

Committee chairs play a key role in guiding new legislation. Current Council President 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, including Sawant, will make up the core of the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development & Arts Committee.

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.

Monday’s meeting will be the first for Johnson, Juarez, and Herbold. Gonzalez took over for John Okamoto’s temporary seat in November and has been attending meetings since. The seven district Council members were all elected to four year terms in in November. The two at-large seats will be up for grabs again in 2017, along with mayor, and will shift to four years terms thereafter.

Sawant has already staked out many of her priorities heading into 2016. Near the top of the list will be convening a task force to study small business rent control after the Council approved a “statement of legislative intent” to do so. Affordable housing was a major issue in the campaign and Sawant will be looking to get the most progressive outcomes from the HALA process.

More ambitious goals for Sawant include building political movements for 12 weeks of paid family leave for all Seattle workers, a tax on millionaires, and rent control. Most district Council members, including Sawant, have also said they would open offices within their districts.

Herbold and O’Brien will likely be Sawant’s strongest allies on Council. Having Jon Grant as a colleague would have been a major advantage for Sawant’s most progressive proposals, but he lost handily in his race against Burgess.

Aside from the new districts, the 2016 Council will have some other unique attributes. There will be two Latinas, a majority of women, and four people of color.council-cmtes-600x464

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10 thoughts on “Seattle’s new district-based City Council ready to be sworn in

  1. Here’s hoping the system works as intended and the district Councillors make a concerted effort to represent their individual districts and engage with the residents.

  2. Why, with the “O” face picture. Could you have not found or taken a better picture of Sawant? i’m not a huge fan but this is super condescending and lame to represent politicians this way and is an obvious affront. It’s a tired meme.

    • I do like Sawant, and I don’t mind the picture. Yes, I’ve seen some needlessly unflattering ones, but at least she isn’t being made to look downright weird here. And exhorting an audience is what she does.

  3. With her call to “pack the Council chambers” with her supporters, it sounds like Sawant will be hijacking the proceedings to loudly push for her various issues. She is free to be an advocate for what she believes in, but there is a time and a place for that, and it’s not at the swearing-in ceremony for Council members.

    • You know, any of the other candidates are free to pack the chamber with the people they’ve inspired.

      I”m sure that all of them have put forth policy that inspires folks to come down to city hall during the day.

      • Donald Trump inspires certain people too with his speeches and unrealistic proposals. In both cases, it doesn’t necessarily make it good policy.

      • Sawant is a scourge on the people of Seattle. Elected by a bunch of whining losers that are upset they work at businesses frequented by folks that made better life choices instead of Seattle Central and pot.

        I’m the first to jump on people who give them a hard time at work – I can’t stand rude folks, but this whole “war” on the “rich” has to end. Sawant should go back to India, but even there – she’s a third class citizen.

      • So a majority of District 3 residents are whining losers? What are you doing here, then? And what would a “better life choice” than Seattle Central be for someone from a poor or lower-middle family who can’t hope to pay for UW? Just curious.