Update: County Council deadlocked on appointment, after 7 hours

(the meeting is now adjourned – as-it-happened updates below)

(photo added 8:42 – all eyes on the door to one of the areas where council members strategized)
ORIGINAL 3:34 PM REPORT: We’re at the King County Council‘s chambers on the 10th floor of the County Courthouse downtown, where county councilmembers are about to move on to the agenda item that will result in their vote on a new councilmember to represent West Seattle and other areas of the 8th District, now that Dow Constantine has become County Executive. You can watch live on Cable Channel 22 or online at the county website; councilmembers have just called a recess until 3:50, at which time they will take up this agenda item. We will publish word of the decision as soon as it’s made, as well as any in-progress toplines, depending on what happens before the vote is taken. 3:53 PM UPDATE: It’s just been announced the recess will continue till 4:30 – they’re waiting for an absent councilmember to arrive. 4:35 PM: And the recess is extended to 4:45. A sizable 34th District Democrats contingent is here to show support for State Sen. Joe McDermott, who the group supports for the job – they’re handing one of these buttons to everyone who arrives to join the show of support:

5:25 PM UPDATE: They’re now out of recess. Joe McDermott‘s name has been proposed as the appointment, for starters. Councilmember Julia Patterson is saying, “This was a difficult choice.” She says that one of the things that made the difference for her is the fact that Sen. McDermott has lived in the 8th District for his whole life, and “the people of the district have leaned on (him) to represent him” over the past 9 years (in his legislative roles). She describes McDermott as a skilled consensus-builder. Now Councilmember Larry Phillips says he concurs with Patterson regarding Sen. McDermott, and appreciates everyone who came forward “to help us sort through this.” Councilmember Larry Gossett expresses appreciation for McDermott’s advocacy for racial and sexual minorities. Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer is now speaking and says he’s been very impressed by Sen. McDermott and even more impressed by all the people who have expressed support for him. But he says he will vote for the caretaker position (which would mean either Drago or Nelson), not “against” McDermott. And the vote to appoint McDermott failed – 4-4 tie (no one spoke against his appointment before the vote).

(that’s video of the first vote, the first deadlock re: appointing McDermott)
There is now a recess (with several councilmembers having gone behind closed doors). In addition to Rep. Nelson and Sen. McDermott, Councilmember Drago is now here.

5:56 PM: It’s just been announced the recess will continue till 6:15. Several other journalists are here; from the politics-watching-specialty world, Erica C. Barnett from PubliCola says the 4 Republican-leaning councilmembers (though the positions are now technically nonpartisan) want to give the job to Drago as a one-year caretaker. We talked with Drago for a few minutes after the recess started; she had just completed her last meeting on the Seattle City Council, after 16 years (she ran for mayor instead of running for re-election). The gallery’s abuzz with how a tie will be broken if the councilmembers stay deadlocked.

6:21 PM: They just announced the recess will continue till 6:45. The lone TV photographer here is packing up.

6:30 PM: Now they are out of recess, and they are nominating Jan Drago. Reagan Dunn says he is leaning toward the caretaker role and believes Drago has the experience. Councilmember Larry Phillips restates his support for Sen. McDermott. The Drago vote deadlocked again. No one proposed an amendment so they’re going to recess again. “Has anyone talked to Greg Nickels?” someone quips, stirring laughter from the otherwise somewhat nerve-wracked audience.

6:54 PM: Still in recess – here’s our video of that second vote, in which the councilmembers deadlocked on the Drago nomination:

7:13 PM: They are out of recess. Dunn is now nominating Dr. Arun Jhaveri , former Burien mayor, “one of the applicants who went through the committee process.” There is a call for another recess, to confer. Someone in the back row suggests frequent candidate Goodspaceguy.

7:22 PM UPDATE: They’re out of recess to discuss this, the third nomination motion. Councilmember von Reichbauer is asking if Rep. Zack Hudgins had ever said definitively whether he would run for the permanent job. “That opens a whole new view of the candidates,” he said. They’re taking a quick break to call him to clarify whether he’s interested in the caretaker role or not. Meantime, here’s more context on Dr. Jhaveri. Much buzz in the gallery about whether pizza should have been ordered for delivery – some of the 34th District Democrats members here to support Sen. McDermott have been here since the council meeting began at 1:30 pm (McDermott was here at 9:30 when the council Committee of the Whole first took up the motion).

7:41 PM: Councilmember Dunn came out to the Chambers and muttered loudly, “They’re going down the list.” (Here, by the way, is the original list of 11 nominees, culled to 4 by a panel of community members – Rep. Nelson, Sen. McDermott, Rep. Hudgins, Councilmember Drago, all of whom were interviewed by the council last Monday.

8:03 PM: Still in recess … 8:11 PM: Most of the council came out of the door to the right of their half-moon dais, and trooped over to go into the door at the left. … 8:26 PM: After 7 hours, Rep. Nelson just left (has to catch a ferry home). No hint of how much longer the recess will last. Meantime, Councilmember Drago has just gone into the closed-door gathering. 9:02 PM: Members are trooping back and forth between the left and right doors. Dunn just strode from left to right smiling, wagging his finger and proclaiming “I got an idea!” … 9:35 PM: Hour 7 now. Still in recess. Conserving remaining battery power so check @westseattleblog for updates till they reconvene (the iPhone’s not dead yet).

9:39 PM: Had to turn the computer right back on – now they’re reconvening. Dunn withdraws amendment for Hudgins, saying that while he was willing to be a caretaker, it might affect his legislative status. Now Pete von Reichbauer is proposing consideration (hasn’t moved this yet, just suggesting) of a cooling-off period while the council is in recess. He explains the impasse, saying there are technicalities that would keep them from bringing up McDermott or Drago again. Councilmember Larry Phillips says, “We are deadlocked at this point … we will go on to deliberate another day … I hope everybody has a good holiday.” Reagan Dunn suggested that they ask the review committee for two more names to suggest. The council does not reconvene till January 4. Bob Ferguson says he’s “optimistic” this will be resolved then. “Sometimes in government and politics there are deadlocks, and for tonight there’s a deadlock, ultimately we will reach a consensus on a deadlock.”

9:53 PM: 34th District Democrats chair Tim Nuse says, “It’s very disappointing. The district needs representation. We’ve got the right choice with Sen. McDermott … (for now) they’ve clearly put politics ahead of the interests of the public. But we stayed here all night, we’ll be working for the next two weeks, and when they reconvene, this room will be packed.”

34 Replies to "Update: County Council deadlocked on appointment, after 7 hours"

  • seven December 14, 2009 (6:20 pm)


  • Ken December 14, 2009 (6:24 pm)

    For perspective:
    The Republican leaning council members (stealth republicans) want the caretaker position so that they can run a stealth republican for the “non partisan” position without having to run against an incumbent in the position.

    Some otherwise very smart people have finally realized how they were taken in by the vote a while back to make the county council positions “non partisan”.
    Enjoy the show.

  • funkietoo December 14, 2009 (6:32 pm)

    Well stated Ken. That is exactly what the [non]stealth republicans are trying to set up. Their position has nothing to do with who is the best choice for District 8 (a very left-leaning district). I want a permanant council member that wants to represent our District and if Joe does well, then we the voters will vote him back in.

  • Jeremiah December 14, 2009 (6:43 pm)

    I’m sorry, von Reichbauer’s vote was against Joe.

  • Denny December 14, 2009 (6:46 pm)

    This is dumb. 4 non partisans voting against 4 non partisans. I know kindergartners who can make a decision…Maybe they should stay in recess

  • WSB December 14, 2009 (6:57 pm)

    Jeremiah, yes, it was, but he contended it was not a vote personally against or for someone. Semantics, but also a quote/paraphrase, as we attempt to give some flavor on what’s happening here … TR
    one more contextual point on this, CM von Reichbauer has made the point multiple times tonight that he “and others” made a “policy choice” to support an interim councilmember.

  • clark5080 December 14, 2009 (7:38 pm)

    so do you really believe that the 4 D’s on the council would not be doing the same thing if it was an R who was being replaced?

    Dow was about as partisan as you could get int he election

  • Chris Porter December 14, 2009 (8:45 pm)

    There is my Leadership team supporting Joe. McDermott. U knew this was going to be difficult and the county council would gave trouble doing what makes sense for the people and not doing what gives the best political advantage. This just stinks. It takes less time to deliver a baby.

  • neighbor lady December 14, 2009 (8:54 pm)

    It may take longer to deliver a baby, but at least it’s less messy and less painful than this seems to be, and there’s usually a happy outcome for all involved. Let’s make them all watch birth videos until they make a decision. That should speed things up.

  • AdmiralWayish December 14, 2009 (8:58 pm)

    TR, isn’t there a wreck somewhere or children doing something adorable that could excuse you from this? Quick, where’s my jury summons?

    • WSB December 14, 2009 (9:12 pm)

      I’m in it for the long haul now. But about to start adding something else to the site. By the way, your comment was just read aloud here in the gallery – the 34th District faithful are now about to start doing the wave … TR

  • jeannie December 14, 2009 (9:18 pm)

    Adding my hands to the 34th District wave! Thanks for the thorough coverage. This seems like a classic example of Seattle politics at work. Glad you’re able to stay awake during these endless procedings.

  • Denny December 14, 2009 (9:22 pm)

    Thanks for sticking around. The shenanigans aren’t on the public access channel. Just a screen saying MKCC “will return in a moment” with some light jazz music. Not sure which will make me sick first – “watching” the inaction of people who’ve had a month to sort this out or listening to the elevator music.

    • WSB December 14, 2009 (9:26 pm)

      this is a REALLY REALLY long recess. For the SECOND time, Chair Dunn has emerged declaring “I’ve got an idea.” Meantime, laughter heard from offstage, left. And the 34th DDs have broken their hunger strike – somebody brought in a bowl of candy. I’ll be here for the duration but cross your fingers the last battery won’t die first!

  • Leslie December 14, 2009 (9:25 pm)

    So please tell me how in any way this disrespect of the 8th District is acceptable?

    How so called “non-partianship” makes it acceptable for Ds like Drago and Hudgins to be played for pawns by the Rs on the Council?

    Truly, have we no shame left? Is the desire so great for a paycheck (apparently Zack) or to stay on stage (apparently Jan) so great as to walk over one (Joe) to negate all those people who helped them get where they are now?

    So much for solidarity – so much for party unity.

    Jan Zach – do the right thing – pls withdraw now

    Thank you – this an ambarassment. What coalitions could you possibly build and effective legislation pass after this embarassing debacle?

    Stunned – truly stunned


  • Tibor Horvath December 14, 2009 (9:41 pm)

    Just FYI – Councilmember Dunn is NOT chair of the King County Council. The Chair is CM Bob Ferguson (Dist 1 – North Seattle, Shoreline out to Woodinville). Dunn is Chair of the Committee of the Whole, which met earlier today. He became Chair of COW when CM Ferguson became Chair of the Council, when Dow Constantine became King County Executive.

    • WSB December 14, 2009 (10:49 pm)

      Tibor, I realized that before the meeting was over and think I have already fixed the incidences where I made the error, sorry about that – TR

  • Denny December 14, 2009 (9:52 pm)


  • wseye December 14, 2009 (9:54 pm)


  • chilly December 14, 2009 (10:08 pm)

    just got off the phone with someone in the know, and he pointed out that either Joe or Drago can have their name resubmitted if one of the council members who voted no on their appointment makes a motion to vote on them again.

    • WSB December 14, 2009 (10:48 pm)

      Chilly, there also was a question about whether legislation from this year expires so that in essence they’d be starting over. Will be following up.

  • wseye December 14, 2009 (11:09 pm)

    Drago probably has the best chance in a revote. She really is the safe choice for everybody since she is a known quantity and will be retiring after a year on KC Council. All she needs is one vote from the non-partisan Dems on Council. She almost made it today but got advanced too early in the process, when there was still hope for other Dems. If it had been at the end of the evening when everybody else had failed to secure support, I think she would have made it. Timing is everything… or a big part of it.

  • unrepresented December 14, 2009 (11:12 pm)

    WSB–the “policy choice” that Von Reichbauer and the other Republicans made was simply partisan politics at its best. The district is 75% Democratic and they want Joe.

    • WSB December 14, 2009 (11:39 pm)

      Just trying to be clear that I was quoting, not opining.

  • chilly December 15, 2009 (12:57 am)

    “Chilly, there also was a question about whether legislation from this year expires so that in essence they’d be starting over. Will be following up.”

    clarified that the 2009 legislation carries over to January 30th,2010 before it expires.

  • Kathy Keene December 15, 2009 (8:13 am)

    Thank you so much for this blow by blow coverage, it must have been painful to watch. I peeked after our city council meeting and was able to tell everyone what was going on. Burien is watching w/ great interest! We may have a park in our soon to be annexed area of North Highline that Triplett tried to sell at the last min, on the line here.

  • intheneighborhood December 15, 2009 (11:09 am)

    For those of you who keep saying that the Democrats would be doing the same thing to obstruct a replacement for a Republican district, the facts show otherwise. From the Seattle Times, 2/8/2005:

    “Reagan Dunn to fill council vacancy

    With little surprise, the Metropolitan King County Council yesterday appointed attorney Reagan Dunn to fill a vacancy on the council.

    Dunn, 33, is the son of former U.S. Rep. Jennifer Dunn and worked as an attorney for the terrorism and violent-crime unit in the U.S. Justice Department.

    He replaces former Councilman Rob McKenna, who was elected state attorney general in November. Dunn was picked by the Republican Party to fill the open seat, and yesterday he won a unanimous vote for the 6th District seat from the council.”

    Note the word “unanimous”, in respect for the Republicans’ majority in that district.

  • seven December 15, 2009 (4:39 pm)

    Not just politics….you ever tried to order a cup of drip coffee in west seattle while the yup in front of you ponders what size mocha they should get?

    I flippin’ have. We get the politicians we deserve.

  • clark5080 December 15, 2009 (4:42 pm)

    it is a totally different process now that it is non partisan the parties no longer pick replacements

  • Yardvark December 15, 2009 (7:46 pm)

    I’d say they owe us a lap around the chambers for every hour they wasted on this.

    Maybe some pushups too.

    Couldn’t we have just solved this with an online vote?

    Why is this way any better?

  • WSB December 15, 2009 (7:54 pm)

    The walking back and forth (first the quasi-Ds were backstage on the left side, then they all walked over to the right side, then the quasi-Rs walked from one side to another) probably qualified as laps. Doubt it’ll be a rerun in January but in case it is, this time I’m bringing a power cord and a sack lunch – TR

  • Suits are not boring December 16, 2009 (2:05 pm)

    Seven – we don’t have ANY representation right now – because the people from outside West Seattle are playing around. The West Seattle people came with the candidate they want until the election. The others – in this case the “Non-Partisan, former Rs” decided they did not want to honor the choice.

  • seven December 16, 2009 (6:18 pm)

    Constantine lives where and does what now?

  • SeattleJay December 16, 2009 (6:44 pm)

    What a bunch of schmucks.

    Have politicians in King Co. have no clue, and no backbone — just like their counterparts in DC?

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