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Topic: district elections
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November 15, 2013 at 12:01 PM
The apparent victory of Kshama Sawant over incumbent Seattle City Councilman Richard Conlin proves something other than that a socialist can win election in lefty Seattle. It also shows that Seattle Proposition 1, taxpayer financing of city council campaigns, was not necessary.
It’s losing, narrowly, and that’s good. Taxpayers of Seattle, who are taxed heavily already, don’t need to pay for politicians’ campaigns.
The point of taxpayer financing, according to its advocates, is not to allow big money to buy elections. Consider Sawant. She is foreign-born with a foreign name. She had never held elective office. She is a socialist, and proudly says so. And she raised $105,630, according to the latest reports, in individual contributions no larger than $700. The total is less than half of what Conlin raised, but it was enough to beat him.
There were other radicals on the ballot, but they raised nothing. It wasn’t because the doors were shut to them. It was because they didn’t want to do the work.
Public financing is a law for lazy candidates.
The passage of Charter Amendment 19, for the election of most of the council by district, will make it easier for challengers to run, further undermining the case for taxpayer-financed political campaigns.
November 6, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Seattle voters made a series of bold decisions Tuesday night. Not only did they oust a mayor, they rejected public financing for political campaigns (Prop 1) and created a hybrid district system (Charter Amendment 19) that will alter City Council elections beginning in 2015.
Incumbent city council members Nick Licata, Mike O’Brien, Sally Bagshaw and Richard Conlin retained their seats, but prepare for a shake-up at City Hall.
All nine members are currently elected citywide. With a new system consisting of seven district and two at-large positions, voters will be able to elect a candidate who lives in their neighborhood and is more accountable for local concerns. Most other major cities already do this. A similar set-up in Seattle should liven up city council debates, which some observers accuse of being increasingly stale because the current council is ideologically aligned. Members are also hampered by the fact that they each represent the broad interests of more than 600,000 constituents. With districts, they’ll be focused on addressing the needs of about 88,000 residents.
This will be a fascinating change. Among the key questions: Which council members plan to run again under this new system? Will they compete against each other or at-large?
Below is the Seattle Districts Now map. I’ve added text to indicate where current council members live.
Faye Garneau, the north Seattle businesswoman who bankrolled the Seattle Districts Now effort with about $200,000 of her own money, says it was money well-spent if it forces future council members to prioritize and be more responsive to neighborhood concerns outside the downtown core.
“It’s my city. I love it,” she said over the phone Wednesday morning. “I want to leave it better than when I entered it. And I think it will be. ” (more…)