The Seattle City Council’s 2020 power shift includes a new leader, and new committee assignments — including new responsibilities for District 3 representative Kshama Sawant. It also includes a new rule set that could put a kink or two in some of Sawant’s favored legislative strategies while also reducing the number of times many of the body’s committees will meet.
The changes are set to be ratified in votes of the full council Monday afternoon.
First, citywide representative Lorena Gonzalez is set to take up the president’s role leading the council giving her control over the body’s agendas and some extra pull in City Hall.
But, more importantly, she’ll be leading a council set to move at a much different rhythm than in the past.
Seattle political news site C is for Crank reports on proposed changes for how often some committees will meet and changes planned for quorum:
First, every committee must have at least four members (and, in practice, each current committee has five), increasing the size of a quorum from two members to three. Second, the new rules require that at least three members of a committee be present just to hold a committee meeting, a significant shift from previous years, when council members frequently held meetings with only the committee chair present and voting.
“This will force council members to actually show up at meetings, and it will discourage one-off special meetings like council member Kshama Sawant’s frequent ‘pack city hall’ rallies, at which Sawant was often the only council member present,” C is for Crank reports.
As for Sawant’s new committee responsibilities, the longest serving member of the council will head up the Sustainability and Renters’ Rights Committee while also serving on four others: the Community Economic Development Committee, Governance and Education Committee, Public Assets and Native Communities Committee, and the Public Safety and Human Services Committee.
In 2019, Sawant chaired Human Services, Equitable Development & Renter Rights and served as a co-chair on the Select Committee on Homelessness & Housing Affordability while also being part of the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development & Arts and Sustainability & Transportation committees.
Seattle City Council Insight has more on the changes and the rest of the new committee assignments.
UPDATE: The new council — except for Sawant — was sworn in Monday afternoon. Sawant is saving her ceremony for a January 13th inauguration and Tax Amazon event at Washington Hall.
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