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.
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.