Should West Seattle have its own City Councilmember? New elect-by-districts push

Right now, there is one West Seattle resident on the Seattle City CouncilTom Rasmussen. However, he, like each of the other 8 councilmembers, represents the entire city – since they all are elected “at large.” Every so often, a proposal to change that comes up, and a new one is to be unveiled tomorrow: Seattle Districts Now plans a media event Thursday morning in the U-District to formally announce its campaign, which it says already has the support of 90 “community leaders” citywide. Its proposed city-charter amendment – which would require about 31,000 signatures to get before voters next year – would create seven districts, each electing one representative, and two at-large members. Our partners at The Seattle Times have drawn up a map of the proposed districts; all of West Seattle would comprise one district.

12 Replies to "Should West Seattle have its own City Councilmember? New elect-by-districts push"

  • visitor September 26, 2012 (3:23 pm)

    This proposal comes up every few years. I can remember back at least ten years when there were rumblings about dividing Seattle into districts for regional city council representation (I think during the Charlie Chong years)

    The reason I don’t like it is because we currently have direct access to every council member – there are three or four I like to contact occasionally for various causes.

    If we went to districts, I (and all other WEst Seattle residents) would have direct access to only one, and it may be someone who is not an effective council member, as I can think of at least one, and probably two, on the council now.

    If the ineffective council member chairs a committee that’s important, s/he can do a lot of damage – the same way a good council member can do much good.

    I wouldn’t want the whole of West Seattle in the hands of one single council member. And BTW, I think Tom Rasmussen is the BEST! And I will vote for him every time. My thoughts about district representation have nothing to do with him.

  • Mightymoh September 26, 2012 (4:03 pm)

    The main problem with all at-large seats in Seattle is money: You have to run a citywide campaign, which takes a lot of cash. It favors incumbents and people who get their largest donations from wealthy interests like major developers, major corporations, etc. You have to buy TV airtime for sure and direct mail to a large city to keep your name out there during a campaign. There’s no incentive to knocking on doors to meet constituents (like Joe McDermott did when he was running), and the rare “community input” outreach efforts hit West Seattle at random. We’re lucky we have Rasmussen here. It was before my time, but I’ll guess it didn’t hurt to have a mayor from West Seattle. But what happens when no one is from our part of the city?
    This and the new rules about not carrying over campaign funds election-to-election are a good start to stopping ineffective Council Members from staying in their seats term after term. It’s also about time for a city this size.

  • Westsiderepresent September 26, 2012 (6:00 pm)

    Considering how many press conferences/town meetings the Mayor has had here possibly.

  • Mike Flynn September 26, 2012 (6:29 pm)

    Yes, please.

  • J September 26, 2012 (6:35 pm)

    Thank you for setting an example by using the word “comprise” correctly!

  • JoAnne September 26, 2012 (7:51 pm)

    This could threaten the liberal establishment’s power structure. They will never allow it to happen.

  • Been there September 26, 2012 (8:07 pm)

    Not true. This proposal is being spearheaded by two of the most liberal people in Seattle.

  • Lauren September 26, 2012 (8:44 pm)

    West Seattle surely comprises more than 1/8 of Seattle’s residents. I thought we were 1/5 or even 1/4. One council member for the whole peninsula seems absurd.

  • Mightymoh September 26, 2012 (9:40 pm)

    I’m trying to figure out how White Center, which is on that map, could be represented on the City Council when it isn’t part of Seattle.

    • WSB September 26, 2012 (9:56 pm)

      Mightymoh – I noticed that; it’s an error in the Times’s graphic, though there are some who consider the Delridge Triangle area just north of the city limits to be part of White Center – the WC Community Development Association is even located on this side of the line. The district would end on the city boundary, which except for east Arbor Heights and then a dip southward where Holy Family is, runs down the middle of much of the length of Roxbury. – TR

  • JoAnne September 27, 2012 (9:18 am)

    Been there–
    Of course it was proposed by liberals. It would have to be, since there aren’t any conservative leaders in this city.
    However, this idea has been proposed twice before, and each time, the existing liberal establishment has taken it down.
    There is a very powerful core “mafia” in Seattle/King County. What they say goes, and they are not likely to support this after slapping it down twice.

  • D I D September 27, 2012 (12:23 pm)

    It is time for this. The costs of campaigning city wide have grown so high as to create a bunch of static incumbents.
    Plus, the at large, city wide system we have now allows a few – usually white and well connected – more than their share of access to City Council members because they have the time and luxury to go to every possible meeting and run elbows with the rest of the well connected’s so it ends up being a very uncreative and entrenched system of group think. These well connected people also wind up being unelected, de facto ‘ junior city council members’ for the part of the city they live in. Delridge and West Seattle has just such a person and it becomes an unaccountable power trip which can, and has been detrimental to democracy.

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