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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Seattle Districts Now Kicks Off Their Signature-Gathering Campaign

Posted by on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 1:05 PM

Democracy in action.
  • Democracy in action.
Last night, in the basement of the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, a passel of neighborhood activists gathered at tables to coordinate and celebrate the beginning of the Seattle Districts Now signature-gathering campaign. Their goal: 30,943 valid signatures in the next six months, which will ensure their amendment to the city charter reaches the November ballot.

If it passes, Seattle would elect its city council in a hybrid system of both district and at-large council seats.

As we've reported in the past, this is slightly different from previous attempts to get city council district elections. For one thing, they've already designed a district map, so voters know exactly what general boundaries they're voting on. Each district has a population within 1 percent of each other district, and they'd be redistricted based on the census every 10 years. Also, they're keeping two seats at-large, so the entire council wouldn't be based on neighborhoods. They call this "the best of both worlds."

Last night, talk focused heavily on articulating arguments to make district elections sound exciting to registered voters. Here were the two main ones:

• District elections would make it easier for younger, less monied, less politically connected candidates to run. This hybrid system would "reestablish the face-to-face, grassroots style of politics," said spokesman Cleveland Stockmeyer. It could inspire candidates to knock on doors to get votes, instead of the current method of "[spending] hours on the phone with people with the most money." There was a lot of talk about reducing the influence of the well-heeled Downtown Seattle Association.

• District-elected candidates would be much more accountable to voters. Check out this graphic, which is on the bottom of their flyer (full PDF of the flyer here):

From the Seattle Districts Now flyer.
  • From the Seattle Districts Now flyer.

A council member would have to live in their district, Stockmeyer explained. "You represent specific people, and you're accountable to them."

The petitions should hit the streets by March 1, and the campaign is using a mix of paid signature gatherers and an organized volunteer effort, led by the activists in the room, to get their 30,000-plus names on paper.


Comments (10) RSS

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30,000 is a lot of signature. Anyone want to join the uprising?
Posted by Zander on February 21, 2013 at 6:32 PM · Report this
@7: Single family housing stock makes up 70 percent of the zoned land in the city. I'm not sure how you draw the lines to get even one district like the one you want.

@1: The One-person, one-vote rule makes it impossible to disenfranchise anyone under any voting system. Even white people.
Posted by J.R. on February 21, 2013 at 4:56 PM · Report this
@6 I'm not kidding.
Posted by Phinneyed on February 21, 2013 at 4:35 PM · Report this
The problem I'm having with this is the way the districts are drawn is that all the districts seem to ensure single family residences are the majority of housing stock in each district.

I predict if this passes as written, we'll have more of an anti-density push than we currently have, which will drive the cost of housing to San Francisco levels.
Posted by ProstSeattle on February 21, 2013 at 4:02 PM · Report this
@1 FTW
Posted by hmmmmm on February 21, 2013 at 3:16 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 5
I cannot wait to put my signature down.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on February 21, 2013 at 2:54 PM · Report this
Josh Bis 4
How about we just call the at large winners co-mayors and be done with it?
Posted by Josh Bis on February 21, 2013 at 2:39 PM · Report this
the idiot formerly known as kk 3
Like all of you, I have so many younger, less monied, less politically connected legislative district candidates knocking on my door, I'm not sure if I can take any more.
Posted by the idiot formerly known as kk on February 21, 2013 at 2:24 PM · Report this
I predict that the Stranger, which has become a complete tool of the downtown developers, will oppose this. It'll be fun to watch the verbal acrobatics as they do so.
Posted by Unbrainwashed on February 21, 2013 at 2:03 PM · Report this
It would be nice to have council members who listen to the long underserved districts north of the Ship Canal.
Posted by Phinneyed on February 21, 2013 at 1:19 PM · Report this

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