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Friday, January 27, 2006

Your New City Council Member, For Real

Posted by on January 27 at 14:33 PM

Defying expectations (and, in several cases, council members’ own predictions) that the city council would choose a woman of color to replace Jim Compton, the council went with former Tina Podlodowski aide and current Lifelong AIDS Alliance community resources director Sally Clark, one of six finalists for the position.

Council members said they were swayed by Clark’s impressive performance at her interview, and by the unequivocally positive reviews she received from colleagues and former employers. Several also said they were impressed by the “mature, responsible” way Clark responded to news that the five minority candidates for the position (all of them, in other words, but her) had banded together in an informal social group they called the “sisterhood”. Clark told the Times: “I think it’s great and I would love to have dinner with them. But I feel I’ve amassed my own support group and I’ve been busy enough doing my due diligence and studying issues.”

Clark received the largest number of points in the initial round of voting, and was one of four finalists to receive nominations. (Venus Velazquez and Ven Knox didn’t make the cut). The council deadlocked 4-4 on Sharon Maeda and Stella Chao, and finally voted 6-2 for Clark,, with David Della and Richard McIver voting no. Then, as a gesture of confidence, they took another vote to make it unanimous.

After the vote, council president Nick Licata said Clark was the only finalist who didn’t “raise red flags” with at least one council member. “Every other candidate had a myriad of concerns, most of them really minor,” Licata said. Jan Drago said that when she checked Clark’s references, “it was just astonishing - all of her former bosses were just profusely positive.”

Council members and staff seemed surprised but mostly pleased at the council’s choice. (Because it wasn’t a straight up-or-down vote, a straightforward count of council members’ top choices wouldn’t necessarily indicate who would get the position.) Drago said she had expected the job to go to Dolores Sibonga, who served on the council throughout the ’80s. Meanwhile, a bleary-eyed Tom Rasmussen, who had been up all night at the One-Night Count of the homeless, said he “never would have predicted it. Never, never, never.”

Clark is the first out lesbian member of the council since Podlodowski, who served on the council from 1996 to 1999. And she is the first young woman on the council since Judy Nicastro and Heidi Wills, who both lost their seats in 2003.

Even as council members were absorbing the news about Clark, the gay-rights bill passed in Olympia, prompting Drago to yell to Podlodowski, to whom she was talking on her cell phone, “Oh my God! What a day!” The council will swear in Clark on February 6.

CommentsRSS icon

Ours? I believe its actually the
Seattle city council members' new
council member.


First openly gay councilperson since Tina Podlodowski?

First young woman councilperson since Judy Nicastro?

Jeez, you're certainly stretching for "firsts" for Sally Clark. . .

First boyishly handsome lesbian city council member?

Uh...maybe first Council member specifically chosen because she wasn't a man?

Start the countdown....How long till Josh does a column about how he predicted this would happen, no matter that he didn't?


Sally Clark is smart as a whip and looks great on TV--at least, on SEA-TV which is where I caught her excellent--and very telegenic--responses during last Thursday's panel interviews.
She will be terrific.

The Stranger is so good at so many things, but, quit the carping. She will be excellent!

Gail Chiarello
Semi-Finalist for City Council

I think you may be misconstruing the point.

Sally Clark may or may not be a worthy choice; personally I have no opinion but she is not the issue.

The issue is the racist & sexist manner by which the City Council chose her and the five other finalists.

i think the council did the right thing and picked the right person. their problem was they actually told the public that they wanted a women of color...or at the very least, a woman. if they wouldn't have set out that criteria but still narrowed the pool to 6 women, they would have been lauded for their progressive politics. instead they're being threatened with a lawsuit. for all those disgruntled white guys, there's always an election around the corner. run, little white guys. run.

-a white guy, who's not disgruntled

Wrong? Never.

Okay, I am afraid of dogs.

You see nothig wrong with basing such a decision (as the City Council just made) on race and sex?
I don't see how you can square that with the gay civil rights bill, which aims for a bias-free society.

Again, I think an important point
continues to be missed. This person was selected not necessarily because she will be a good representative
of the citizens of Seattle on the
city council. She was selected because the council members felt she would largely be non-threatening to their positions and efforts. Listen and read what the council members said about Clark after her confirmation. None
or very little of it was about Clark and the city's residents. It was all about the council members' expectations of Clark's relationship
with them. Ask the average Seattlite who Sally Clark is and you'll likely get a blank stare...of course, you may have gotten the same reaction regarding other council members previously selected by this process.

My concern is that the council is
acting and progressively being viewed as insular and remote from the city residents.

The time for district representation
on the city council is long past due.
This secretive and council-centered selection process of a new council member confirms the need to have city residents select their own representative council member.

--- Jensen

It looks like you really had a nice time.

Holla and Happy Thanksgiving.

It looks like you really had a nice time.

Hi there! Your site is cool!

It looks like you really had a nice time.

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