‘I’m a small-business owner too’: City Councilmember Sara Nelson spends an hour in West Seattle Junction

(WSB photos)

Every part of Seattle actually has three city councilmembers – the district rep, and the two at-large members who represent the entire city. Approaching the midpoint of her first term, at-large Councilmember Sara Nelson visited the West Seattle Junction business district today. Her hourlong mini-tour was doubly relevant, as she chairs the council’s Economic Development, Technology, and City Light Committee, and is a business owner (founding Fremont Brewing with her husband in 2009) – she reminded the proprietors she met today that “I’m a small-business owner too.” Her tour guide was Junction Association executive director Chris Mackay, who first briefed Nelson on the state of The Junction – from public-safety concerns (including the recent hiring of private security) to event planning (with tens of thousands of people expected to converge on The Junction for West Seattle Summer Fest July 14-16. The big job is to keep The Junction “clean, safe, and fun.” They headed out to stops in three businesses – first, The Beer Junction:

Owner Allison has long been on The Junction’s Block Watch committee. She told Nelson the past three years have been especially tough for small-business owners, not just public-safety challenges, but also the 2 1/2-year West Seattle Bridge closure. Both Nelson and the assistant accompanying her said they could help with problems such as better connecting with other city agencies. From there, they headed south to Northwest Art and Frame for a chat with owner Dan:

He told Nelson things were going fairly well – his store started closing earlier, and that eliminated some problems they’d been having in the evening. He also talked about the difficulty of getting police response for thefts; Nelson said she’s working on an easier way to at least file after-the-fact reports. Meantime, she also listened as Dan spoke proudly of his half-century in business and at least one staff member who’d been working there his entire adult life.

Before Nelson’s hourlong visit wrapped up, she also stopped in at My Three Little Birds and heard about how businesses support each other by sharing real-time information on problems; Mackay noted she’s working on getting a better communication tool for businesses to use.

Before Nelson left, we asked about the day’s hottest citywide topic – Tuesday evening’s council vote rejecting the proposal she, Councilmember Alex Pedersen, and City Attorney Ann Davison had put forth to match city code with the new state law on drug possession. What now? we asked. Nelson said she wasn’t ready to talk specifics but “I’m not giving up.”

26 Replies to "'I'm a small-business owner too': City Councilmember Sara Nelson spends an hour in West Seattle Junction"

  • Tracy June 8, 2023 (5:39 am)

    I have a question on the council vote. Why does the city code need to match the state law? Doesn’t the city still need to abide by state law?  

    • Gaslit June 8, 2023 (10:41 am)

      The state law prevails, but passing the ordinance gives a lot more budgetary power to enforce it. The law as it stands is pretty much unenforceable in Seattle without anything behind it. On one hand, bureaucracy isn’t going to solve the problem, on the other a “no” vote led by lame duck council members is laughable. 

    • Matthew Cook June 8, 2023 (10:45 am)

      So the code the council voted on was to allow the City Attorney to be able to charge the gross misdemeanor for public drug use or possession per the state law.  While it is a gross misdemeanor and police can arrest, they won’t if they know no charges can be filed, thus defacto legalization.

    • Scarlett June 8, 2023 (11:53 am)

      No.   Municapalities can refuse to adopt these laws into municipal code with the reasoning that  one size does not fit all. 

      • Adam June 8, 2023 (10:50 pm)

        I don’t believe that amounts to opting out, it just means it won’t be their focus. They wouldn’t allocate funds and resources to fighting it. It would still be illegal as the state law applies to the whole state. Municipalities could try and fight it the same as states fought to allow legal weed in their states even though federal law pre-empts state law with regards to drugs. The federal law is still that weed is illegal, they just choose to not fight it in states that voted to legalize or decriminalize. But they could reverse course any day. So if the city council doesn’t vote to make a city-wide law, there just won’t be attention on it here. You can still be arrested, prosecuted, and convicted for it, however. 

  • LivesInWS June 8, 2023 (6:29 am)

    “…one staff member who’d been working there his entire adult lives”Wow! Forget the politics; I want to hear about how this staff member got more than 1 life!

    • WSB June 8, 2023 (9:11 am)


  • Michael R Arnold June 8, 2023 (7:09 am)

    Can we possibly elect 9 Sara Nelson’s to the Seattle city council?

    • tim June 8, 2023 (10:18 am)

      You can count me in.  So nice to see a level headed person on the Council.  More Sara Nelson’s please!  Vote ALL the others out please.

    • Concerned West Seattlite June 8, 2023 (12:37 pm)

      Sara has my support too. Thank you Sara 

    • Amd June 8, 2023 (1:42 pm)

      Yes, council members who advocate endlessly for businesses and never have a single thing to say or any helpful legislation for actual people is definitely a way to bring change to the city.  

    • Admyrl Byrd June 8, 2023 (9:26 pm)

      Sara Nelson would be the mayor we thought we were getting with Bruce Harrell who has seemed to cut’n’run on restoring law and order.

      • Steve Cranberry III June 24, 2023 (8:50 am)

        I’ve noticed that the “OMG LAW AND ORDER” crowd tends to want “order” in the hierarchical sense, and really only the punitive elements of “law” (i.e. yes to harsher punishment, no to “rights for criminals”). Sara Nelson royally sucks and hates the homeless for having the audacity to exist near her.

  • Matthew Cook June 8, 2023 (7:48 am)

    Nice to see a a councilmember engaged and talking with small businesses in our community. Not something you would see with our own Dist. 1 councilmember Lisa Herbold. Tells you everything

    • Lagartija Nick June 8, 2023 (4:53 pm)

      Lisa Herbold did MANY walking tours of West Seattle’s business areas and talked with the owners and staff. Folks like you complained she was “grandstanding” and only there for photo ops. SMH

  • Matthew C June 8, 2023 (7:48 am)

    Nice to see a a councilmember engaged and talking with small businesses in our community. Not something you would see with our own Dist. 1 councilmember Lisa Herbold. Tells you everything

  • Jay June 8, 2023 (9:21 am)

    I know there’s a technical definition of a “small business” but to call Fremont Brewing a “small” business feels a bit misleading, especially to those that don’t know the technical definition or don’t realize how much revenue and headcount Fremont Brewing has.

  • East Coast Cynic June 8, 2023 (10:48 am)

    Hopefully, if there is a changing of the guard in the next election, the council can revisit the legislation.  Many so-called world class cities don’t allow such behavior to go on in their streets.

    • Amd June 8, 2023 (1:43 pm)

      There was a “changing of the guard” at the last election, remember?  Wasn’t Harrell supposed to re-fund the police that were never defunded and turn Seattle into the city everyone thinks it was 20 years ago?

      • Quiz June 8, 2023 (3:50 pm)

        Harrell has been great for Seattle. It will be even better when we have a council that thinks rationally.

        • James June 8, 2023 (4:52 pm)

          You mean the council Harrell was on for over a decade before being mayor? 

          • Amy June 8, 2023 (5:28 pm)


        • Admyrl Byrd June 8, 2023 (9:28 pm)

          Yeah – he was really vocal and persistent on restoring law and order with the criminalization vote last week.  He was all over the place fighting for us.Wait…..

        • Steve Cranberry III June 24, 2023 (8:53 am)

          What has Bruce done other than be a corporate stooge? I know he’s been meddling with the ST3 alignments to make sure the cretins at Amazon stay happy, but…that’s about it, right?

  • Derek June 8, 2023 (3:05 pm)

    Sara Nelson is awful and her business is openly hostile towards the homeless. I do not understand support for her.

  • snowskier June 8, 2023 (3:22 pm)

    Thank you for visiting Sara and for your hard work.  I appreciate having a small business owner on the council who knows what it takes to manage city bureaucracy and feels firsthand the impacts that council choices have on their personal livelihood.  You also earned my respect when finding a way to continue paying all your staff during the worst of covid, keeping people whole during a very hard time to help  them come out intact on the back end of it.  That action spoke volumes about character.

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