[UPDATE: As Bruce points out, I forgot the convincing wins for transit in both Okanogan and Grays Harbor Counties. Arguably the best news of the night!]

For someone that shares STB’s assessment of the candidates, Tuesday’s election results were mixed. (See the King, Snohomish, and statewide results). Many of our preferred candidates and measures won, but in the most publicized races our favorites were nearly swept.

King County: All of our picks (Dow Constantine, Rod Dembowski, Dave Upthegrove) won, but none were seriously in doubt.

Seattle: All of our council picks (Conlin, Bagshaw, O’Brien) won. More notably, Ed Murray will be our next Mayor. I honestly have no idea what that will be like, although one would expect a honeymoon period with the Council for whatever it is he wants to do. [CORRECTION 11/16/2013: Kshama Sawant overtook Conlin.]

Bellevue: We earned a split for the moment. Lynne Robinson won, Lyndon Heywood didn’t, and Steve Kasner is trailing Kevin Wallace by less than 500 votes, or a little more than 2%.

Other Cities: Fred Butler is cruising in Issaquah. Our two picks for Federal Way mayor and council are winning handily, as are our two picks for Council each in Kirkland and Lake Forest Park. Jennifer Gregorson is up by 10% for Mayor of Mukilteo.

Legislature: Nathan Schlicher is trailing Republican Jan Angel by about 4%. If that holds, the Republican-dominated Senate coalition would have a two-seat margin.

Measures: Initiative 517, the Eyman measure, went down. Less happily, the advisory vote on closing a sales tax loophole advised a repeal, and Seattle Charter Amendment 19, the districts measure, passed. We’ll get to see if our suspicions about the map are justified; together with Sawant’s strong challenge, it may have helped convince STB favorite Richard Conlin that this term would be his last.

70 Replies to “2013 Election Results Summary”

    1. Excellent news indeed! The percentage of yes votes in Grays Harbor County is even higher than the historic C-TRAN vote in 2005 (the one I was personally involved with).

  1. A feel-good note from the national scene: Terry McAuliffe narrowly defeated a Tea Party candidate to win the Virginia statehouse. Seeing as how governors are becoming increasingly important, this is great news! McAuliffe lives in the DC area, and has a series of transit-friendly positions, including continuing the build-out/expansion of the Silver Line of the DC Metro.

    1. To be more precise, the election of McAuliffe (while hardly ideal) is probably not that harmful to transit, and the defeat of Cuccinelli is great news. It’s sad that Virginia Democrats couldn’t come up with any better candidate, or even run a ham sandwich, which would have won more votes against Cooch.

  2. Great summary!

    I still don’t understand why everyone thinks Conlin will run against Sawant in district #3. He seems like a shoe-in for one of the two at-large seats.

    1. Er, or I could actually read the article, and find out that Conlin actually announced his retirement after this term.

      Well, I guess I’m 50% right ;)

      Still waiting on that comment edit feature! :P

      1. Or you could have read the description on the link without reading the link itself, because I don’t see how “this term would be his last” = “he’s going to run for an at large slot” (hardly “this term is his last”. When I first saw your comment, I thought the link had been edited in later!

        I hope Sawant didn’t give Conlin the willies about being vulnerable; Murray deciding to run for mayor after Sawant’s challenge I could understand, but this to me says more about Sawant’s strength than Conlin’s weakness. Against a weaker candidate like (to take the Stranger’s two super-lukewarm endorsements) Bagshaw or Licata, we’d be looking at Councilwoman Sawant.

        I wonder if Conlin might be gearing up for a run at mayor in four years?

      2. I agree. Against a weaker candidate, Sawant wins easily. Sawant owes much of her success to The Stranger. For some reason, they hate Conlin. I guess it is the Monorail, or maybe the tunnel or maybe something that makes even less sense, but they hate him. Meanwhile, folks who follow the blogs (like this one) and pay attention to density issues think he is great. I would love to see him as mayor and suggested as much to someone who is involved more closely in the political scene (he works for one of the bicycle organizations). He said he likes Conlin, but feels like Conlin hates running things. I think he hates politics (or at least is tired of it) and this race showed it. He ran a pretty poor race. He is very much a behind the scenes, lets get it done type of guy. A true policy wonk that knows that you can’t have everything. I expect him to land a job somewhere where his expertise will be really handy.

      3. Morgan, the link text reads:

        together with Sawant’s strong challenge, it may have helped convince STB favorite Richard Conlin that this term would be his last.

        As written, that could be a quote from the Sawant campaign. In fact, immediately after the election, Sawant’s campaign did in fact say something to the effect of, “In 2 years, Conlin will be gone”. The link text does not make it clear that this was a statement from Conlin’s campaign. (Of course, the article itself does make this clear, and it’s my bad for not reading the link before posting!)

        Conlin’s statement said that he won’t seek office again, which seems to rule out a run for mayor. And anyway, if he’s exhausted from campaigning for a city council race, it seems hard to imagine that he’d want to deal with a mayoral campaign.

    2. Apparently Conlin has announced that he will retire versus running in either district 3 or at large in 2015.

    3. Na, apparently he will retire (from the Council) after the term he just won — or so he says at least. So a repeat of this race is unlikely.

      However, if Sawant was to run and win in her district, it probably would indicate the creation of a more fractured and less homogenous city council. This would effectively increase the power of the executive, who is elected at large. So I’m not sure the proponents of district elections will get the effect they are looking for (which is sort of their track record anyhow….).

      1. It’s hard to see as of right now how anyone defeats Sawant in District 3. It’s really too bad, because District 3 is precious — it’s the only seat on the new City Council that’s guaranteed to be pro-urban. I’d love to see another Mike O’Brien in there, a solid progressive who nevertheless has good working relationships with other councilmembers. Instead the seat will be wasted on a bomb-thrower who will lose a lot of 8-1 or 7-2 votes.

        Sawant’s sheer, unnecessary nastiness to Conlin on election night does not bode well for her effectiveness in working with people.

      2. I think the nastiness can be avoided by choosing better deputies to populate her Twitter feed. I don’t think she’s personally anywhere near as rude as her feed made her seem.

      3. I would imagine there are other folks out there who simply sat out this race. People who are involved and really understand what Conlin has done like him. Sawant is pretty smart, but the more I look at her campaign, the more I think she is a bit of a whacko. Consider that many of her positions (a Seattle income tax or rent control) are simply impossible. Who runs on that? Folks that are either nuts, or are counting on the voters being ignorant (while you are at it, why not run on reducing military spending).

        Even folks that didn’t like Conlin may have sat out the race, assuming he was going to win easily. It is hard to beat a sitting representative. This happened four years ago, when Nickels ran for mayor. The only people who challenged him were outside the political mainstream (no city council members or anyone who had ever held political office). Four years later lots of experienced politicians wanted his job.

        I hate the new districts alignment, but the one thing I do like is that there will be lots of hands on campaigning. Without the endorsement of The Stranger, Sawant would have done nothing. In a smaller district, this means a lot less. You can actually talk to the person (or people who know the person who is running) and that means something. Imagine a debate in a local gym — she would struggle (i. e. “That sounds great Kshama, but do you know what office you are running for? Seriously, we can’t do that — it is illegal. You may as well promise voters that you’ll pull our troops out of Afganistan — we all want that, but you can’t do anything about that from this office”).

      4. Zach, she personally said “In two years… goodbye” at her election night event. Not good at all.

      5. In practice, I think that District 6 (Mike O’Brien) will turn out to be a reliably pro-urban seat as well, even with the ridiculous gerrymandering. But we’ll see.

      6. Sawant said she would retire after two years? Is she trying to make a one-time statement rather than staying indefinitely to influence ongoing policy?

      7. Mike: Sawant said that *Conlin* will be gone in two years. The implication was that he wouldn’t win another election, once we have districts. Of course, now Conlin has said that he won’t run again, so her prediction has already come true.

  3. Those advisory votes are written so convolutedly, I have to wonder how many people just don’t vote on them or vote incorrectly.

    1. They’re really low-information as well; their main purpose seems not to be so much the vote itself so much as “These people voted to RAISE YOUR TAXES~! OOGABOOGA!” In other words, putting propaganda against certain state legislators in the voter’s pamphlet. There aren’t even arguments for or against, just lists of legislators and contact information.

      I read the text of an Eyman initiative once (maybe two different ones) and was struck at how much it didn’t read like an actual law. It really tied into Eyman’s “citizen initiative” image, but the result was probably that it was clumsily worded, by not being written the way a professional would write it. These advisory votes feel like a knee-jerk “we should have a say on taxes!” without actually doing what would actually be needed for them to work, meaning they’re even more meaningless than their advisory nature already suggests. (Of course, this being Eyman, this may be intentional, hoping his base will knee-jerk reject taxes without actually knowing anything about them.) Regardless, I skip that part of the ballot because there’s no way I could make an informed decision about them and because voting on them, at all, is an implicit victory for Eyman.

      1. I hate giving Eyman victories, especially considering his anti-transit views and his elitism…

        But I voted to repeal almost all of the tax exemptions. We need to close tax loopholes in this state to start having the conversation about tax reform.

      2. Uh, if you voted to “repeal” then you voted to keep the tax exemptions, which is what Eyman wants. Vote to “maintain” to increase tax revenue.

    2. That confusing wording was actually added by law–a new Eyman-esque initiative mandating it was passed, I think last year. It was another one of those ALEC-backed issues (hello, Jan Angel).

      Says a lot about your positions if you feel that have to mandate intentionally confusing wording to have any hope of getting them passed. “If you can’t dazzle ’em with brilliance, baffle ’em with bullshit” indeed.

    3. Apparently the advisory vote is the remaining fragment of an Eyman initiative after all the other parts were struck down. So it may have made more sense in the context of the rest of the initiative. In the meantime it wastes paper to print all those names and addresses. And they’ve got to be the most confusing measures that were ever put on Washington ballots: where your vote doesn’t do anything, and where voting yes preseves the status quo and affirms the legislature’s action. Normally yes means to change something.

      1. A good example is advisory vote 5, concerning dental plan tax loopholes. It passed both the House and Senate with only a single no vote, but failed spectacularly with almost 66% voting to repeal the repeal (or whatever wording you want to use).

        So our legislature already has times of being a do-nothing legislature (especially recently). Now when they actually do something, voters repeal it, making the political process even dumber.

        Granted the advisory votes have been going on for at least one election cycle. Is there a sunset clause in Eyman’s amendment for these to go away and let the legislature do the job we voted them in for?

  4. In Kenmore, we just elected Nigel Herbig to the city council. He ran on a platform of aggressive sidewalk expansion, and won by a landslide (it helps that his opponent, Pat O’Brien, mostly ran as a rabble-rouser). It’s worth noting that Mr. Herbig works for Jessyn Farrell, a 46th district representative and transit advocate.

    It’s a small result for the overall transportation landscape in the area, but it will hopefully result in making Kenmore more pedestrian-friendly.

    1. The thing that rubbed me the wrong way most about his argument was his claim that the new strategy (calculating required shared open space per-unit, 170/130/100/85 for 3bd/2bd/1bd/studio, instead of the old flat-rate per square foot) will incentivize builders to build lots of tiny closet studios. It does not incentivize tiny studios. He argues instead for a common requirement for 1bd and studio units, set between the proposed 1bd and 2bd requirement. He is wrong. The 4-tier requirements incentivize builders to knock out walls and convert what would have been a cramped 1bd into a moderately sized studio, or what would have been a cramped 3bd into a generously sized 2bd, thus creating the kind of “high-end units” he’s afraid the rules would hurt. The primary demand in Burien is for 2bd anyway, and any builder who ignores demand in an attempt to min-max the zoning is shooting themselves in the foot.

      Meanwhile, across city limits in West Seattle, buildings are being constructed with only 40sqft of common open space per unit, and the sky isn’t falling there.

      1. And in most of the world’s great cities, the amount of “common open space” pushing the buildings away from the streets approaches zero.

      2. Isn’t a “common open space” known as a park? Shouldn’t all residents pay for parks? (OK — I have no idea what the reasoning is behind the initiative, but I can’t help but think it is misguided).

      3. I’ll never cease to be amazed how American tourists flock to Paris and Barcelona, send postcards raving about the heart-racing romance they find at the meeting point of charm and bustle, and then return home to permanently enshrine the exact opposite.

      4. Isn’t a “common open space” known as a park?

        In this context, it’s referring to courtyards, lawns, rooftop patios, pools, and the like. It’s “common space” because it’s accessible to all the residents, but most of it is typically private to the complex (although there’s nothing specifically prohibiting it from all being public). The previous common space requirements that the council overturned were aggressive enough to basically mandate the “tower in a park” design philosophy on any project that would approach the limits of the (modest) height envelope – and thus no one was building.

        In the rest of Burien, developers have an option to contribute to nearby city parks & recreation facilities in lieu of building the common space. This option was removed from the downtown zoning, because the council has no plans or desire for any downtown park purchases or expansions beyond the shiny new Town Square Park.

      5. Typically open-space-in-parcel requirements allow the space to either be public (open to the street) or available to residents only (interior courtyards and rooftops). The argument being that residents need “space” in the neighborhood, and an interior courtyard fulfills that need.

      6. The Town Square condos, built under the old rules, right as the real-estate bubble was popping, is a prime example of this. An entire block of street-facing retail and underground parking, a central open landscaped courtyard, and 6 stories of condos around the perimeter with balconies on both sides.

        But the central courtyard (and rooftop patio, and fitness room….) weren’t enough to completely satisfy common space requirements – they went to the (now removed) fee-in-lieu option and contributed a significant amount to the building of Town Square Park across the street in order to complete their requirements.

      7. Thanks for the clarification. That is what I thought. It is a stupid rule. If you want nice open space (e. g. parks) pay for parks. Have everyone pay for it. Don’t force the builder to make half ass parks that people aren’t even sure are parks.

  5. I’m not too concerned about the districts after seeing the Seattle Times map. If you were to ask anyone how to divide Seattle into six parts the most natural way, West Seattle would be one and southeast Seattle would be another. Then you’d expect one or two in the middle and two or three in the north. The most surprising thing is that rectangle of Wallingford going with the university district while north of it splits at I-5. But on the other hand, Wallingford does identify more with the U-District than with Ballard. The far north district is odd, but then the alternative of extending three districts from the ship canal to the city limits is odd in a different way. The north Seattle district seems to cut Greenwood in half, or at least separate Greenwood from north Greenwood. Suspicious minds might say that was the intention, especially considering that the liberal McGinn rabble hail from Greenwood.

    As to the concerns of single-family areas becoming overinfluential, I’d say there’s a moderate risk of that but not necessarily high. Most of the existing councilmembers already live in the far edges of single-family areas, so they could hardly get more so. And less density also means less voters; e.g., my apartment building has probably ninety people, and it would take several single-family blocks to equal that number. Plus you’d have to discount children in those houses who are not eligible voters. The inner districts are roughly half multifamily and half single-family, which means the multifamily share will still be a significant portion of the vote. In the far north district, it looks like Northgate mall is included, so that’s one urban area which will become more so over time. That’ll prevent it from being essentially all single-family. And the multifamily people of north Greenwood/Broadview will no doubt make their voices heard, and that area is also growing.

    I think long-term demographical and attitudinal trends are favorable to density and transit, especially if we articulate better that a cap on density does not lower rents but raises them, as more people squeeze into the few convenient places that are left. So even if this district thing slows down growth and prevents eliminating parking spaces, I don’t think that can last forever; it will gradually wear down anyway.

    1. Finding natural divisions is just one of the many problems that can occur with sort of thing. The worse part of this change is that it didn’t really get the debate it deserved. The mayoral race, and even the race between Sawant and Conlin got more press. But this thing is huge for Seattle. It could easily change the dynamics of the city way more than either of those races. A quick look at the House of Representatives gives you an idea of why electing by districts can be problematic:

      1) There is gerrymandering, or even “natural gerrymandering” (a term I just made up, although I’m sure someone else has thought of it). In the last election, more people voted for a Democrat for Congress than a Republican. But Republicans won more races. Before you assume that this is because crooks wrote the boundaries (gerrymandered them) consider the way the parties align themselves. Urban areas are overwhelmingly Democratic. Drawing “natural” boundaries often means drawing lines around a city. If you want “mixed” districts; districts that are roughly split 50/50 along party lines, then you have to get very creative if you want the districts to be contiguous. For example, In King County you would have districts that look like weird pizza slices — taking a bit of the heavily Democratic Seattle, while stretching outward to the rural areas. The end result is that more “normal” district boundaries (based on natural, historic or legal divisions) end up concentrating left leaning folks in a handful of districts, and allowing right leaning folks to control (with a smaller margin) more districts.

      2) Crappy representatives. Imagine picking the 100 best blues players in the country. You would, no doubt, get a bunch from Chicago and the South. Now, imagine that you first draw up 100 districts (so that each district has roughly the same number of people) and then pick your best blues player from each district. Now the second best blues musician from Chicago is replaced by some guy from Spokane. Even if there isn’t a natural concentration, it means lesser talent. Norm Rice would make a fine representative (better than most of the guys in the House right now) but he will never run because McDermott holds that seat. You can add a lot of other talented people to that list as well. The opposite happens as well. Right now, if there is someone that is doing a terrible job at the city council (or is too far to the right or left for your taste) then anyone in the city can run against that person. With this change, you have to find someone who is in that district. Want to know why Reichert still has his job (in a left leaning district)? The Democratic party can’t find anyone good enough to run in that area.

      3) Politicians will only represent their area, instead of the greater needs of the country (or city, in this case). Deliver for your district and folks might overlook your other failings (such as the fact that you are an idiot).

      The only benefit I see with this alignment is that politicians will have a better shot at actually talking to the people. So, someone who is not very good at raising money, or gaining the endorsement of the newspapers (or other organizations) but really good at talking to people face to face will stand a chance. By and large, I don’t see this as much progress, though, because I don’t think it happens very often. If you can’t convince two ridiculously divergent newspapers (The Seattle Times and The Stranger, who chose different candidates for every contested city wide race) or public organizations (including the members of this blog) how are you going to convince your neighbors. One of the first things I look at in a candidate is their endorsement page. As much as people say otherwise, races for city council are won or lost based on them.

    2. Mike, you need to look at the parts of the district boundaries that are not along natural divisions, and then you’ll understand what Dick Morrill — a brilliant guy; I took his Geography of Inequality class and loved it — was doing. Your District 4/6 example is a good one. Instead of splitting the boundary north/south, he put urban Wallingford in with mostly SFH (outside the U-District) District 4, and lumped SFH Green Lake in with urban Fremont and Ballard. In both cases it results in a SFH majority, although District 6 is close and will eventually tip.

      Likewise, the inner ring — the ID, inner Capitol Hill, and Belltown — was cracked between Districts 2, 3, and 7. That allows District 7 to be SFH majority, when it might not have been otherwise, and lumps the very urban ID in with a SFH majority in Southeast Seattle.

      Districts 1 and 5 were bound to be SFH majority. Districts 4 and 2 probably were going to be as well. But with only minor changes, we could have had urban-majority districts in 6 and 7, not just 3. That would have made the at-large members an urban/SFH swing vote. Instead we have an impregnable SFH majority.

      1. I keep finding more things to distrust about this map, David.

        In that Slog thread, the familiar complaint that none of today’s councilmembers is from District 5 kept rearing its head. Eventually, I zoomed in on the District 5 boundaries, and realized that the mayor-until-two-days-ago himself lives within the district!

        This is the case, of course, only because central Greenwood has been meticulously carved up — the district boundary literally bisects the urban village neighborhood north of 85th Street. Yet more evidence of “divide and conquer”.

      2. Good eye, d.p. That strikes me as a long-term play, for after 6 becomes urban. After 2020 or so, 5 is going to have a very large Lake City urban village which is car dealerships today (combined with substantial growth in Bitter Lake), and ensuring that it doesn’t have all of Greenwood as well will keep it from tipping for that much longer.

      3. That strikes me as a long-term play

        After the 2020 census, the current map will not matter. This is only an initial map; the city will be redistricted with the census every decade, just like every other legislative district in the country.

        The only long-term play here was drawing an initial map that matches with the general population’s preconceived ideas of neighborhood identity. That turned out votes for it that wouldn’t have been there if it was just a theoretical, undefined set of districts.

      4. I took the “Geography of Inequality” class too. I was unimpressed when he said buses could be replaced by taxis for much cheaper, and that the BART subsidy wasn’t worth it. How does he thing taxis could be cheaper than buses when buses cost $2.50 for an entire trip but taxis are $2.50 per mile? Even as a nonprofit with public subsidy it would take a lot to get taxis down to the price of buses. And taxis would be overwhelmed in the daytime. Basically he’s anti-transit and anti-urban.

      5. I don’t necessarily have a problem with putting urban areas together with their adjacent single-family areas. Drawing a boundary around urban areas is arguably just as bad gerrymandering, but the other way.

      6. I don’t necessarily have a problem with putting urban areas together with their adjacent single-family areas. Drawing a boundary around urban areas is arguably just as bad gerrymandering, but the other way.

        Exactly. This is why I wouldn’t vote for any districting proposal. Even if you have a perfect algorithm which creates the ideal, geographically compact districts, you still have the problem that your neighbors are not necessarily the people with whom you have the most in common.

        Imagine that you had a city that was perfectly square, and was 64 square miles large. There are 4 districts, each of which are also perfectly square, each with exactly 25% of the city’s population. Each of the four quadrants are separated by a river. In other words, the districts are basically perfect — they have precisely equal population, and create no artificial divisions.

        There’s just one catch. In each district, 49% of voters are from Party A, and 51% of voters are from Party B. So each district will elect a representative from Party B, and you’ll have a one-party legislature, even though nearly half of the city voted for the other party, and *even though no gerrymandering has taken place*.

        Now, it just so happens that the Seattle map *is* gerrymandered, which makes the problem worse. But even a perfect map would still have this problem.

  6. Thinking about districts, I don’t think the situation is dire. It’s too bad Conlin is ready to retire, as I think he would do well running for an at-large position. That would mean three elections in four years (2013, 2015, 2017) so I can see why it’s not palatable for him.

    Here’s the worst case as I see it:
    1-Rasmussen, 2-Clark, 3-Sawant, 4-some NIMBY from Laurelhurst, 5-some North Seattle NIMBY, 6-some Ballard NIMBY, 7-Burgess, 8-Licata, shifting to an at-large seat, 9-Steinbrueck, deciding to rejoin the council in an at-large district.

    That’s pretty dire, actually.

    Here’s the realistic best-case scenario:
    1-Rasmussen, 2-Harrell (or possibly a more progressive alternative, given district demographics), 3-a progressive TBD (though Sawant wouldn’t be too bad if the rest of the council went the right way), 4-a young, pro-urban candidate from the U District, 5-Mike McGinn, rising from the ashes to win over his new district (sure, it’s a stretch), 6-O’Brien, 7-Burgess or Bagshaw (doesn’t matter), 8 and 9: progressives TBD.

    It’s not necessarily the end of the world, if resources are directed at the more winnable seats.

    1. I agree, not the end of the world. It will shake things up big time, though. Oddly enough, one of the arguments used for districts is that it eliminates the effect of “big money” and thus big power brokers. I think it could have the opposite effect. If there really is “big downtown establishment” that is pulling the strings, then they could pull this thing in any number of ways. I don’t think there is, so basically there will be a mess, at least initially, as far as what people will end up doing.

      I think Conlin’s announced departure means that his district is wide open. Anyone who thinks that Sawant is shoe-in just doesn’t have the stomach for politics (or any sense of it). If nothing else, things will be very interesting a couple years from now.

      1. Districting advocates didn’t claim that districts would eliminate the effects of Big Money, only that it would reduce it. That’s because district campaigns empower grassroots campaign strategies like doorbelling and meet-the-candidate coffee parties. For candidates, it’s less dialing for dollars and more handshaking and conversation.

        Yes, Big Money can and will be spent in districts, but its effects will be less decisive. In the 11th Legislative District last year, we had multiple candidates for an open seat in the State House of Representatives. We had a couple of candidates spending big money on slick mailers and such; one candidate also had major independent expenditures on her behalf. Both lost — the guy who got elected was the one with the deepest roots in the community and who knocked on the most doors.

        It was a good outcome. And I expect more results like that in our district city council elections.

      2. How ironic, then, that Charter Amendment 19 was decided on the basis of a single large donor “spending big money on slick mailers and such”, with the campaign taking great pains to evade discussion of the details of its proposal and to obfuscate its history of NIMBYism.

      3. Oh, and there were no doorbellings and no public meetings. The campaign consisted of a few paid campaigners misleading people on social media and riding around illegally planting signs on city property.

    2. O’Brien in 6 would be a fantastic outcome; Burgess in 7 would be a plus (much more than Bagshaw). But you’re just not going to get an urban-friendly candidate in 4 unless some Wallingford resident speaks NIMBY and doesn’t actually mean it. And you’re not going to get one in 5, period.

      1. I am, as it happens, on record as
        “fairly agnostic” on the apodment phenomenon, inasmuch as it tiptoes around our entrenched urbanism problems without fixing any of the root problems:


        While I don’t support the back-door methods by which apodments have been implemented, I do know that Seattle’s strategy of trying to quarantine density into about 7% of the city is a recipe for bad and unsustainable urbanism. This is why every project built in every constrained zone is formulaic, dysfunctional, and awful. This is why historic preservation has been a losing battle in central Capitol Hill — there’s nowhere else that density is allowed to go.

        Good urbanism is a product of mixing: of peoples, of activities, of movement vectors, of densities, of structures of varying age, size, and appearance. Our density-quarantine will only lead to a dichotomous landscape with polarized politics. The Craftman Swaths that cover more than half this city must be allowed get denser, but not at the expense of every Craftman — change permitted gradually and organically, not forced by the economic pressures inherent in tight upzone boundaries. And not loophole density that obviously arouses too much political ire to scale.

  7. District elections will eliminate the nonsense of the Mayor and the 9 Little Mayors. Most other cities run that way .

    1. Hey, it’s my favorite canard-for-the-credulous, incessantly employed by Toby throughout the campaign!

      “Most other cities” have, at the end of the day, a mayor who can make decisions on behalf of all citizens without being budgetarily vetoed by his Council counterparts.

      We don’t have that. What we have instead is like the U.S. Congress, a recipe for (even incentives toward) obstruction and gridlock. So now we’ll be getting that on every tiny NIMBY matter. Say goodbye to what sliver of a functional city government we have.

      1. What we have that the U.S. Congress doesn’t is log rolling and horse trading. Gridlock in congress began when earmarks were eliminated and legislators could no longer bargain with each other for votes on projects and programs important to specific legislators.

        I think that one or two solidly pro-transit / pro-urban council districts could get more accomplished than the peanutbuttered at-large council seats. District 4 wants a park renovation? District 2 wants TSP. Tit for tat. Historically, it’s how congress accomplished almost everything of note.

      2. Tit for tat? How about: District 4 wants an upzoning proposal to completely exclude their district. District 2 also wants the upzoning proposal to completely exclude their district. Put them together, and you have no upzones anywhere, ever.

        District 3 is the exception, of course… except if Sawant wins, in which case she’ll probably see upzones as giveaways to rich developers, and she’ll fight them just as much as anyone else.

        I suppose one of the more amusing possible outcomes will be if O’Brien gets elected from District 6, and some other pro-urban candidate — McGinn? ;) — gets elected in District 5 simply because no one’s paying attention, and the city ends up passing an upzone proposal which effectively channels all new development into those two districts. I don’t really think the horse-trading will be that bad, but you never know!

  8. Charter Amendment 19 was approved almost 2 to 1 by Seattle voters. It’s time for calmer voices and learning to live with it.

    For voters who don’t want narrow-minded NIMBY candidates elected, don’t support them; I know I won’t. Help recruit and support candidates whom you agree with. Give them a check. Doorbell a couple of precincts (the average city council district is only 135 precincts). Host a meet-the-candidate coffee party for your neighbors. Grassroots strategies are not reserved for NIMBY campaigns; they work for campaigns with a broader vision also.

    I think you will find what I have found doing Seattle politics for too many years. Most voters are pretty reasonable people and not easily categorized. Certainly most are not categorizable as NIMBYs. They are concerned about a whole range of public issues — regional, citywide, and local. The current council format has been great at dealing with regional and citywide matters, but it hasn’t worked for local neighborhood matters.

    District councilmembers will quickly learn that to be effective and be liked in their district, they have to tend to the whole range of constituents’ interests — regional, citywide, and local neighborhood. It’s just bogus to blithely assume that voters are interested only in neighborhood issues and will embrace a candidate who ignores the bigger picture.

    Time to de-stress and make the new system work. (You too, d.p. Time to take a deep breath…)

    1. Help recruit and support candidates whom you agree with. Give them a check. Doorbell a couple of precincts (the average city council district is only 135 precincts).

      Doesn’t the new measure prohibit donating money to a candidate who’s running in a district other than your own? ;)

      Joking aside, I think you raise an interesting point. Supporters of Amendment 19 said that districts will reduce the cost of running for city council. But if everyone continues to donate money to candidates as if they were elected by the whole city — as you seem to be proposing that we do — then we may find that city council races don’t really get any cheaper. At the other extreme, we may find some candidates who refuse to accept money from people outside their district, so as to boost their credibility as a local representative. Realistically, I imagine it will probably be somewhere in between…

    2. The thing is, motivated people vote often, while others stay home. In single-family heavy areas, that translated to NIMBYs voting, and those who would mildly like more housing choices and transit not voting. That argues for NIMBY dominance in single-family areas. But the wildcard is that demographics are changing and attitudes are changing. All parts of the city voted for ST2 except one or two tiny areas, and they may not be as rabidly NIMBY as some people fear. A lot of people see the general citywide benefit of a good transit investment in one area even if it’s not their area. So that may be an influence too.

Comments are closed.