City Hall

Districts Group Regroups

By Erica C. Barnett September 26, 2012

Seattle Districts Now, a group that ran an unsuccessful effort to turn all Seattle City Council seats into geographically-based positions in 2003 (an earlier district-election proposal failed in 1995), has re-formed and is pushing a hybrid districts/at-large system, with seven city council members elected by district, and two elected citywide. (Currently, if you didn't realize it, all nine council members are elected citywide.)

For voters, the new system would mean that instead of choosing all nine council members, they would only vote for three---one representing the district where they live, and two representing the entire city.

The group, which will announce its plans in a press conference tomorrow morning, is headed up by three business representatives and one low-income housing activists. The business reps are Faye Garneau, director of the Aurora Avenue Merchants Association, who fought for years against bus lanes on Aurora; Fremont Dock owner Suzie Burke, who fought, most recently, against a bike lane on Stone Way in Fremont; Eugene Wasserman, one of the plaintiffs suing to stop the city from completing the "Missing Link" of the Burke-Gilman Trail; and Seattle Displacement Coalition founder John Fox, who has steadfastly fought against pro-density legislation, from Yesler Terrace to Roosevelt to, well, the entire city.

In their press release, the district proponents argue that district elections will "ensure city council members are closer to the people they represent and that voters better know their city council members," adding that the at-large council disproportionately represents "certain" parts of the city.

All three of the chairs of the districts group live in the north end of the city (as do, incidentally, a third of the members of the current city council.) The group also argues that district elections will reduce the cost of council campaigns.

Seattle Districts Now has not yet reported any contributions or expenditures to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission.
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