News Where Have All the Candidates Gone?
posted by March 28 at 16:44 PMon
Erica’s got a story in the new Stranger about this year’s race for City Council Member Peter Steinbrueck’s open seat. (Steinbrueck, elected in 1997, has decided not to seek reelection, so he can be a full-time activist for the surface/transit option on the waterfront.)
One thing we didn’t have room for while profiling the two candidates, Venus Valazquez and Bruce Harrell, was a nagging, larger question: Why are there so few candidates running for City Council this year?
Five out of the nine positions are up this year and so far there are only four candidates running: Valazquez and Herrell for Steinbrueck’s open seat—and Tim Burgess, running against incumbent David Della. Meanwhile:
(Former Council Member John Manning—who had to leave the council in disgrace in 1996 because of domestic violence arrests—is also going to be running against Steinbrueck.)
Tom Rasmussen, Sally Clark, and Jean Godden are still unopposed.
I don’t know if the Seattle Times endless harping about the “Circus Animals Council” worked to the point that the council is no longer considered an important or worthy body; if transportation and education (the two issues everybody’s obsessed with, even though education isn’t on the Council’s docket) seem so hopeless that the public has simply become disengaged; or if the bickering between Mayor Nickels and the council has become so juvenile that no one wants anything to do with City Hall.
But seriously, five seats are up—and the only story so far is that one Council Member (Steinbrueck) decided the council was so irrelevant he’s leaving the council?
I imagine with all the consultants in town talking people into running (so that they’ve got some business), more candidates will file. But it’s nearly April already, and with the primary bumped up to August, filing deadline is June 8—as opposed to late July. Where are all the candidates?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A way to get people more engaged in municipal politics would be to make our council elected by districts—rather than the 9 at-large seats. With districts, candidates wouldn’t be able to get away with their disappearing acts (anybody seen Richard Conlin lately?). They’d have a constituency and accountability. And come election time: Opponents.