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Seattle City Council

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Seattle City Council
City Council
Seattle City Council Logo.png
Seattle City Council District map.png
Map of the seven districts effective January 2016
President of the Council
Seattle City Council makeup.svg
Political groups
  Democratic (8)
   Socialist Alternative (1)
  • Committee on Economic Resiliency and Regional Relations
    Energy and Environment Committee
    Government Performance and Finance Committee
    Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee
    Libraries, Utilities and Center Committee
    Parks and Neighborhoods Committee
    Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee
    Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee
    Transportation Committee
Seven Electoral districts and Two At-Large, both with four-year terms
Last election
November 5, 2019
Meeting place
Seattle City Hall 001.jpg
Seattle City Hall
600 Fourth Avenue, Second floor
Seattle, Washington 98104

The Seattle City Council is the legislative body of the city of Seattle, Washington. The Council consists of nine members serving four-year terms, seven of which are elected by electoral districts and two of which are elected in citywide at-large positions; all elections are non-partisan. It has the sole responsibility of approving the city's budget, and develops laws and policies intended to promote the health and safety of Seattle's residents. The Council passes all legislation related to the city's police, firefighting, parks, libraries, and electricity, water supply, solid waste, and drainage utilities. (The mayor of Seattle is not considered part of council.)


Last election: November 2019[1]
District Member Party preference First elected
1 Lisa Herbold Democratic 2015
2 Tammy Morales Democratic 2019
3 Kshama Sawant Socialist Alternative 2013
4 Alex Pedersen Democratic 2019
5 Debora Juarez Democratic 2015
6 Dan Strauss Democratic 2019
7 Andrew J. Lewis Democratic 2019
8 (at-large) Teresa Mosqueda Democratic 2017
9 (at-large) Lorena González Democratic 2015


Election of city council members occur on odd-numbered years, with at-large seats staggered from district seats. City council members' terms begin January 1 although public ceremonies are held on the following Monday.[2] The council positions are officially non-partisan and the ballot gives no party designations.[3] Party identification is based on candidates' voluntary self-identification. Like other elections in Washington, all candidates run together in the primary with the top two progressing to the general election.

Candidates may participate in Seattle's unique democracy voucher program, which provides residents with vouchers to give candidates for public campaign funding.


Results of the 2015 City Council election. Size of circle shows total votes cast in each District or Position. Names and percentages given for top two candidates, and incumbent, in each race.[4]
Results of the 2015 City Council election. Size of circle shows total votes cast in each District or Position. Names and percentages given for top two candidates, and incumbent, in each race.[4]

Beginning in 2015, the geographic outline of the 7 districts and 2 citywide positions are as follows. Some neighborhoods overlap more than one district, indicated with an asterisk*.[5] Redistricting will occur every 10 years starting in fall 2022.[6]

District Neighborhoods
1 West Seattle, Delridge, South Park, Harbor Island, Industrial District*
2 Beacon Hill*, Central District*, Downtown*, Rainier Valley*, Georgetown, Columbia City, Seward Park, Industrial District*
3 Beacon Hill*, Capitol Hill*, Cascade*, Central District*, First Hill*, Montlake, Rainier Valley*
4 Bryant, Cascade*, Fremont, Laurelhurst, Maple Leaf*, Ravenna, Roosevelt, Sand Point, University District, View Ridge, Wallingford*, Wedgwood*
5 Bitter Lake, Broadview, Greenwood*, Haller Lake, Lake City, Maple Leaf*, North Beach/Blue Ridge*, Northgate, Roosevelt*, View Ridge, Wedgwood*
6 Ballard, Crown Hill, Fremont*, Green Lake*, Greenwood*, North Beach/Blue Ridge*, Phinney Ridge, Wallingford*
7 Belltown, Capitol Hill*, Cascade*, Downtown*, First Hill*, Interbay, Magnolia, South Lake Union, Queen Anne
8 At-large position, citywide
9 At-large position, citywide


Seattle was first incorporated as a town by an act of the Territorial Legislature on January 14, 1865. The town charter established a five-member board of trustees to govern Seattle, which appointed citizens to other positions.[7] The act was repealed January 18, 1867, after most of the town's leading citizens petitioned for its dissolution. Seattle was again incorporated, this time as a City, on December 2, 1869. The new unicameral legislature, known as the Common Council, was elected at-large to one year terms.[8] At-large election was replaced in 1884 by a system of 14 wards and four members elected at-large, all elected to two-year terms.[9]

The Home Rule Charter, adopted in 1890, reorganized the city council into a bicameral legislature, with a nine-member Board of Aldermen and a sixteen-member House of Delegates.[10]

District-based elections

In 2013, Seattle voters approved Charter Amendment 19 calling for the nine citywide Seattle City Council positions to be divided into seven district-elected seats and two citywide, at-large seats.[11] The elections for the two at-large seats are held as separate contests, thus results are not proportional.

Each seat is filled in two-step process - a primary election is held in August, with the two most popular candidates going on to a general election in November.[12]

The partial transition to districts started with 2013's elections for Positions 2, 4, 6, and 8 being truncated, two-year terms.[13]

The first primary based on the new combined district/at-large system was held August 4, 2015. The first city council election based on the new system was held on November 3, 2015.[14]

2015's election cycle featured all nine seats, except the seven district positions were elected to full, four-year terms and the two at-large positions would be for truncated, two-year terms.[13][15]

The seven district seats are up for election again in 2023; the two at-large seats are up for election again in 2021.


  • 1869–1883 – Seven at-large Council members elected for one-year terms.
  • 1884 – Nine Council members elected: three from each of the three wards, elected to two-year terms.
  • 1886 – One ward added, Council reduced to eight members: two elected from each ward for two-years terms.
  • 1890 – The Home Rule Charter established eight wards and bicameral legislature. A Board of Delegates composed of nine at-large members was elected for four-year terms. House of Delegates had 16 members – Two from each ward, elected for two-year terms.
  • 1892 – One ward added to make nine. Both houses to have nine members – all elected from wards.
  • 1896 – New Home Rule Charter reestablished unicameral legislature with nine wards. One Council member elected from each ward for two years and four elected at large for four-year terms.
  • 1905 – Two wards added to make 11. One Council member from each with four at-large – 15 council members total.
  • 1907 – The Charter was amended twice during the year, the first time adding two more wards, increasing the size of Council to 17. Later, another ward was added (to make 14), increasing Council to 18 members.
  • 1910 – The Charter was amended to abolish wards, reduce Council to nine at-large positions elected to three-year terms. This took effect in 1911 and remained constant until 1946. The 1910 Charter amendments also made the elections non-partisan. Prior to that candidates for Council (and other City offices) ran on party tickets.
  • 1946 – The new Charter created the four-year term.[16]
  • 2013 – City voters pass measure changing councilmember elections to a mostly-district-based scheme.
  • 2015 – First councilmember elections held under new combined district/at-large scheme.


The Council chamber
The Council chamber

In 2006, Seattle City Council salaries exceeded $100,000 for the first time. This made Seattle's city council among the highest paid in the United States, behind only Los Angeles and Philadelphia.[17]

In 2010, Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Richard Conlin, Nick Licata and Mike O'Brien earn $117,533.52 annually. Councilmembers who were re-elected in 2011, Tim Burgess, Sally J. Clark, Jean Godden, Bruce Harrell, and Tom Rasmussen, will earn an annual salary of $119,976.48, effective January 1, 2012. Their salary will remain at this level through December 31, 2015.

In January 2017, salaries of councilmembers are authorized to be $59.08 per hour (councilmembers are paid monthly salaries, however the published compensation plan are presented as hourly rates). This is equivalent to an annualized pay of $123,359.04[18]

As of April 2018, salaries of councilmembers are authorized to be $62.11 per hour, an increase of 5% from 2017. This is equivalent to an annualized pay of $129,685.68.[19]

Council President

The Seattle City Council picks among its peers a Council President to serve a two-year term, beginning January 1 of the year following an election. The Council President serves as the official head of the City's legislative department. In addition, they are tasked with:

  • Establishing of committees and appointment of committee chairs and members.
  • Presiding over meetings of the full council.
  • Assuming the duties and responsibilities of Mayor if the Mayor is absent or incapacitated.

Notable past council members

Table of recent members[22]
Elect. year Pos 1 Pos 2 Pos 3 Pos 4 Pos 5 Pos 6 Pos 7 Pos 8 Pos 9
1991 Sue Donaldson Margaret Pageler Tom Weeks Sherry Harris Cheryl Chow Martha Choe
1993 Jane Noland Jan Drago
1995 John E. Manning Tina Podlodowski
1996 Charlie Chong[note 1]
1997 Richard Conlin Peter Steinbrueck Nick Licata Richard McIver
1999 Judy Nicastro Heidi Wills Jim Compton
2003 Jean Godden Tom Rasmussen David J. Della
2007 Bruce Harrell Tim Burgess Sally J. Clark
2009 Sally Bagshaw Mike O'Brien
2013 Kshama Sawant
- Distr 1 Distr 2 Distr 3 Distr 4 Distr 5 Distr 6 Distr 7 Pos 8 Pos 9
2015 Lisa Herbold Bruce Harrell Kshama Sawant Rob Johnson Debora Juarez Mike O'Brien Sally Bagshaw Tim Burgess Lorena Gonzalez
Kirsten Harris-Talley[note 2]
2017 Abel Pacheco Jr.[note 3] Teresa Mosqueda
2019 Tammy Morales Alex Pedersen Dan Strauss Andrew Lewis
  1. ^ Elected in special election after Tom Weeks resigned to work for Seattle Public Schools.[23]
  2. ^ Appointed to fill vacancy after Tim Burgess became mayor in September 2017
  3. ^ Appointed to fill vacancy following the resignation of Rob Johnson in April 2019.[24]


  1. ^ "November 5, 2019 General Election". King County Elections. April 22, 2019. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  2. ^ "Seattle City Council Members / 1946-2015". Seattle Municipal Archives. Retrieved March 29, 2019. The 1963 State Elections Act (RCW 29.13) mandated ... Terms of office were to begin on the first day of the next year.
  3. ^ "RCW 29A.52.231 Nonpartisan offices specified". Revised Code of Washington. Retrieved March 29, 2019. All city, town, and special purpose district elective offices shall be nonpartisan and the candidates therefor shall be nominated and elected as such.
  4. ^ November 3 General Election results, King County Elections, November 24, 2015
  5. ^ "Seattle City Council Districts - City Clerk -" -
  6. ^ "Districts FAQ". Find Your Council District. Office of the City Clerk. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  7. ^ Lange, Greg; Tate, Cassandra (November 4, 1998). "Legislature incorporates the Town of Seattle for the first time on January 14, 1865". HistoryLink. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
  8. ^ "1869-1882: The Common Council under the First City Charter". Seattle Municipal Archives. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
  9. ^ "1884-1890: Ward System Established". Seattle Municipal Archives. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
  10. ^ Charter of The City of Seattle, Commonly Known as The Freeholders' Charter. Seattle: The Northwestern Printing Company. October 1, 1890. p. 9. OCLC 38579564. Retrieved December 5, 2017 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ "SEEC Law & Filer Info" -
  12. ^,_Washington_municipal_elections,_2015
  13. ^ a b "Charter Amendment 19" (PDF). King County Elections. August 5, 2013. p. 7. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  14. ^ "Current and Prior Election Information 1998 - present" - King County Elections -
  15. ^,_Washington_municipal_elections,_2015
  16. ^ Seattle City Council Members, 1869–Present Chronological Listing, Seattle City Archives. Accessed online February 1, 2011.
  17. ^ Brunner, Jim (November 18, 2005). "Seattle's council members among highest-paid in U.S." The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on January 10, 2006. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  18. ^ "2017 Salary Schedule and Compensation Plan" - Seattle Department of Human Resources -
  19. ^ "2018 Salary Schedule and Compensation Plan" - Seattle Department of Human Resources -
  20. ^ "1910-1946 - CityArchives |". Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  21. ^ "Great Northern Tunnel -- Seattle". Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  22. ^ "General and Special Elections - CityArchives |". Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  23. ^ Roberts, Gregory (April 27, 2007). "Charlie Chong, 1926-2007: Former councilman blazed trail in City Hall". The Seattle P-I. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  24. ^ Beekman, Daniel (April 22, 2019). "Seattle City Council appoints Abel Pacheco to succeed Rob Johnson". The Seattle Times. Retrieved April 22, 2019.

External links


  • Hugh DeLacy Papers. 1938–1985. 4.87 cubic feet (11 boxes, 1 map tube, 1 package). Contains records from DeLacy's service with the Seattle City Council from 1938–1939.
  • Frederick G. Hamley Papers. 1933–1963. 6.83 cubic feet. Contains records from Hamley's service with the Seattle City Council from 1935–1936.
  • Austin E. Griffiths Papers. 1891–1952. 11.73 cubic feet (25 boxes). Contains records from Griffiths' career as Settle city councilman from 1910–1913.
This page was last edited on 29 March 2021, at 06:33
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