10:18 AM: West Seattle-residing City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen has just announced he’s changed his mind about running to stay on the council. Here’s his statement. The field of candidates for West Seattle’s City Council District 1 seat is now down to three, with the first forum less than 2 weeks away. More to come.
10:29 AM: Rasmussen has been on the council since 2004 (here’s his bio), and currently chairs the Transportation Committee. His statement (linked above) says in part, “This wasn’t an easy decision but, it is the right one. It is now time to direct my efforts toward the same causes I have always been most passionate about — in exciting new ways.” He is the second councilmember to announce this week that he’s not running to stay on the council, which has all nine seats going to voters this fall, seven for the new districts, two at large. Nick Licata made his not-running announcement on Wednesday.
11:04 AM: Mayor Murray‘s statement:
Councilmember Rasmussen has been deeply engaged in public life as long as I can remember. As an advocate for seniors, human services, parks and innovative transportation solutions, Tom demonstrates active and effective leadership for our City. He was instrumental in our successful campaign last year to expand bus transit – for which I’m very grateful. I am especially thankful for his partnership in our effort to secure civil rights and marriage equality for the LGBT community. Seattle is losing a major champion on the council, but we know his community activism will find new outlets as he writes his next chapter.
11:14 AM: We contacted Councilmember Rasmussen to ask about his decision. In a phone interview a short time ago, he told us it was “very difficult – I love my job, I love working with the community and in the community, but I was torn” between spending the next year doing that job AND campaigning, or focusing on the work. He points out he still has almost a full year left in office, and he vows that he won’t be “slacking off” – most days, he says, he’s “out of the house by 5, back after 6” (back on Wednesday night, he was at the Delridge District Council meeting, which ran until 9) and after his final year, he looks forward to a “more balanced” life.
He says he felt the need to announce this early because he was receiving donations and offers of volunteering, endorsements, and other campaign help already, and because “other folks who might be interested can step up.” No, he’s not endorsing a candidate yet, but says he’ll be looking for one who also will be out in the community – “you can’t just sit in your office, you have to be a problem-solver.” As quoted above, he said he hopes to focus more on the causes for which he has long worked; we asked which might be his major focus in post-council life, and he said that “working on issues relating to seniors and people with disabilities is really fundamental.”