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The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

November 5, 2013 at 7:06 AM

Seattle voters approving City Council districts in initial results

UPDATE, 9:15 p.m.: Faye Garneau felt pretty good Tuesday night about the commanding lead held by a measure to elect Seattle City Council members by geographic  district.

“I’m on my second martini,” Garneau said from the districts-election campaign party at the 125th Street Grill.

A North Seattle business advocate, Garneau contributed $232,447 of the $262,860 raised by the campaign for Charter Amendment 19. She said she had no regrets about spending the money.

Seattle voters had rejected council districts in several previous elections, most recently in 2003.

This time, though, advocates created seven specific districts and showed voters a map with the boundaries for each – something they didn’t do in 2003. The remaining two council members would be elected citywide.

“I think the map made the big difference,” Garneau said. “People could see what district they’d be in.”

Garneau also believes Seattle’s growth played a part. “This was the time to make the change. As we’re growing we need a way to know what the needs are in every section of the city and this is the best way to do it.”

UPDATE, 8:15 p.m.: A measure to elect most Seattle City Council members by geographic district was leading handily in Tuesday’s initial results, 64 to 36 percent..

ORIGINAL POST: Most Seattle City Council members would represent districts of the city under a proposal before voters today.

Charter Amendment 19 seeks to create seven council districts, with two council members representing the city at-large, as all council members now are.

Each of the seven districts would have about 88,000 residents. The districts roughly follow geographic boundaries with West Seattle one district, for example, and South Seattle another.

Proponents said selecting council members by district would give every area of the city a representative familiar with local issues. They also said district candidates would not have to campaign citywide, making it cheaper to run and giving grass-roots candidates a better shot at election.

Opponents say district elections result in divisive politics where every member is looking out for their own district with less focus on citywide problems and priorities. They say the current city council is diverse — three women, two gays, one minority — and its strength means it can be an effective check on the mayor.

Seattle voters had rejected districts in previous elections, most recently in 2003. But unlike the failed 2003 proposal, Charter Amendment 19 showed voters a map of just what the districts would look like, and it retained two at-large seats.

Comments | More in 2014 elections | Topics: district elections, Seattle Charter Amendment 19

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