(UPDATED TUESDAY AFTERNOON with text of Councilmember Herbold’s speech)
3:43 PM: We’re at Seattle City Hall, where a hour and a half of oaths of office and speeches by the nine members of the City Council and their subsequent short business meeting have just concluded. Above, District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold was the first to take the oath, administered by former City Councilmember Nick Licata, for whom she worked for more than a decade and a half; her daughter, grandchildren, and husband joined her for the occasion, as shown in our video above; below, her subsequent four-minute speech, in which she vowed to ensure no one is “left behind”:
We’ll replace our phone video with better-quality versions of the clips, and more details, including key points of what was said by her new colleagues – including Councilmember Lorena González, a West Seattleite elected to citywide Position 9 – when we’re back at HQ a bit later.
5:01 PM: Here’s the archived Seattle Channel video of the entire event, all nine councilmembers (by district/position number, so Herbold was first, González last):
ADDED 7:38 PM: Photos – Councilmember Herbold’s mom Donna fastening the official city pin on her daughter:
Her grandchildren Jamaya and Jamil and husband Bob with her at the post-ceremony photo op:
And outside the post-meeting reception at the Bertha Knight Landes Room at City Hall, her entire group, also including daughter Megan at right:
In her speech, Councilmember Herbold spoke of income inequality, and the stark effect of housing unaffordability – the declining percentage of Seattle workers who are able to live in the city. Those who help make our region’s prosperity happen should have the chance to prosper too, she declared. She vowed “to pass laws to ensure that those who benefit most from the prosperity also invest in a fair deal for our city.” That includes impact fees and protection for renters “from some of the excesses of a very hot housing market,” she said. And on another money-related note, she thanked volunteers for helping her win “despite being outspent three to one.”
ADDED 8:05 PM: Councilmember González had been sworn in back in November, since her position was to succeed temporary appointee John Okamoto, so this was a second ceremony. City Clerk Monica Martinez Simmons led her through the oath, and partner Cameron was at her side:
You can see her speech at 1 hour, 10 minutes into the Seattle Channel clip above. “It’s my most sincere wish, hope, and resolution that this group of determined people will … put our heads together to solve Seattle’s most pressing issues” – gender and income inequality, homelessness, lack of affordable housing, “much more. … We must make this city a better place to live, work, and play. … We must be a voice for those so often forced into the shadows, only to be silenced. We must make this city the progressive beacon of our nation – where unfettered opportunity and shared prosperity for the working class, communities of color, immigrants, and refugees is the rule, not the exception.” 2015 was a year of change, she noted, but 2016 must be “a year of action.”
Councilmembers González and Herbold are two of the five women who make this a female-majority Seattle City Council for the first time in almost two decades. That, and the new makeup of the council – seven district representatives, two at-large, when all members had previously been at large for a century – are part of what the official news release trumpets. That and key points of other councilmembers’ speeches, ahead:
All nine Seattle City Councilmembers took their oaths of office in the traditional inauguration ceremony in City Council Chambers today, following their successful victories in last November’s election. Newly elected Councilmembers Lorena Gonzalez, Lisa Herbold, Rob Johnson and Debora Juarez joined returning re-elected Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Tim Burgess, Bruce Harrell, Mike O’Brien and Kshama Sawant in taking their seats at the Council dais.
Family, friends, colleagues and community members filled the Seattle City Council chambers to celebrate the new and returning local government leadership. Each elected official was sworn in by someone of their choice and gave brief remarks.
Following their oaths, Councilmembers elected Councilmember Bruce Harrell to the position of Council President. Harrell has served as Seattle City Councilmember since 2008 and most recently chaired the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee. The Council President is the presiding officer of the Council, sets the Full Council agenda, assigns legislation to committees and is the primary point of contact for external agencies. When the Mayor is absent from the City or incapacitated, the Council President assumes the duties and responsibilities of the Mayor.
Today’s historic oath of office ceremony ushered in first district-based representation system since 1910. Seven of the Councilmembers will now each represent a geographical district, while two Councilmembers will each represent the entire city:
District 1 (West Seattle, South Park): Councilmember Lisa Herbold
District 2 (Southeast Seattle): Council President Bruce Harrell
District 3 (Central Area, Capitol Hill): Councilmember Kshama Sawant
District 4 (Ravenna, Wallingford): Councilmember Rob Johnson
District 5 (North Seattle): Councilmember Debora Juarez
District 6 (Fremont, Ballard): Councilmember Mike O’Brien
District 7 (Downtown, Magnolia): Councilmember Sally Bagshaw
At-Large (city-wide): Councilmember Tim Burgess
At-Large (city-wide): Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez
Click here for an interactive tool to help find which Council district you live in.
Today’s inaugural ceremony also marked a series of notable firsts in Seattle local government history:
First Enrolled Native American Councilmember – Debora Juarez
First Latina Councilmembers – Lorena Gonzalez and Debora Juarez
First Japanese American/African American Council President and first African American Council President since Council President Sam Smith in 1986-1989 – Bruce Harrell
First Female Majority City Council since 1998 – Sally Bagshaw, Lorena Gonzalez Lisa Herbold, Debora Juarez and Kshama Sawant
Councilmembers also took their first votes in their 2016-2017 term and assigned committee chairs. Each Councilmember is responsible for heading a Council committee and managing legislation related to that committee’s focus:
Council President Bruce Harrell, Chair: Education, Equity and Governance
Councilmember Tim Burgess, Chair: Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, Chair: Human Services and Public Health
Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez, Chair: Gender Equity, Safe Communities and New Americans
Councilmember Lisa Herbold: Chair: Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts
Councilmember Rob Johnson, Chair: Planning, Land Use and Zoning
Councilmember Debora Juarez, Chair: Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Waterfront
Councilmember Mike O’Brien, Chair: Sustainability and Transportation
Councilmember Kshama Sawant, Chair: Energy and Environment
ADDED TUESDAY AFTERNOON: We’ve received the text of Councilmember Herbold’s speech, for anyone who’d like to read it rather than watching the video:
Thank you. Council colleagues, distinguished guests, family and friends – I’m honored to serve as the first Councilmember for the FIRST District of West Seattle and South Park.
I’d like to begin with a bit of trivia about me. My 1st real job at 13 was also at a City Hall – but as a janitor! I was placed there through the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, a jobs program for low income youth, started by President Jimmy Carter. And, thirty-some odd years later, I’m still working at City Hall. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I can’t seem to leave the place.
Some might say that I’m living proof of how government can make a difference in people’s lives. I prefer to say – with a special shout out to our custodians – that I’ve known first hand a couple of very important jobs at city hall!
18 years serving Seattle residents, working for Councilmember Licata, and my prior work as a community organizer has given me a strong sense of to whom we must do a better job listening.
I just – week before last – attended a meeting with Councilmembers Gonzalez and Harrell comprised of folks working to ensure that those who have made mistakes, but paid their debt to society, or were only accused, but never convicted of a crime – should be able to access housing in Seattle. The message from this meeting wasn’t only that we need to ensure that landlords are making decisions based upon people’s suitability to rent – but also that as policymakers we need to do a better job of taking our cues from those we hope to serve.
Seattle voters delivered the same message in passing district elections.
We must make sure people aren’t left behind. Only the top 5% of our region’s earners have seen their wages rebound to pre-recession levels. Where 10 years ago more than 50% of our workforce lived in Seattle, today only 40% does. The people who make our city prosper must also have the chance to prosper themselves.
In that spirit, I will work to pass laws to ensure that those who benefit most from that prosperity also invest in a fair deal for our city. Let’s pass developer impact fees to insure that growth helps pay for mobility improvements. Let’s set regulations that protect renters from some of the excesses of a hot housing market. We also must be persistent advocates for responsive and accountable policing and employment practices for all of our communities.
I say “we” because I’ve only gotten this far with the help of many in this room today. Many thanks to the hundred plus volunteers who lent their energy to our effort and affirmed our shared values and aspirations.
Together we won this election despite being outspent 3-1. If we continue to mobilize like we have over the last 10 months we can make sure that our voices challenge the status quo where change is needed most. I’ll only be able to succeed with you by my side.
Special thanks to my family, especially my mother, husband, and daughter. Your unwavering support has made what seemed impossible, possible.
And as for my teacher the last 18 years, Nick Licata, he embodies all of the best qualities of a dedicated public servant, egoless leader, and brilliant strategist. Nick, I will do my best to remember your advice to see the world as it should be, to understand that political and social change is a marathon made of incremental steps, and to have fun!
I take this oath in gratitude and service to each of you.
And we did get our higher-quality video of her oath and speech uploaded – you can watch it on YouTube here.