The average age of a Seattle City Council member is 64—sixtyfuckingfour—and that's 16 years older than the council's average age was in 1990. Our elderly "leaders" have shown little gumption for the most pressing needs of a growing city: accelerating the completion of light rail across Seattle, funding the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans to safely connect our neighborhoods, or encouraging developers to build microhousing, workforce housing, and low-income housing so working-class people can live in this town. One possible reason they've turned their backs on the real needs of people who live in this city: The same roughly 20 donors max out contributions to council incumbents every election, and the same council members are safety reelected and reelected and reelected—thanks to the prohibitive cost of running citywide for a council seat. As long as they adhere to the agenda of the wealthy folks who do business at city hall and fund their campaigns—developers, major real-estate owners, people with contracts with the city—city council incumbents have lifetime job security.
In this environment, qualified newcomers don't even run for office because they can't raise the quarter million dollars needed to compete.
City of Seattle Proposition 1 would smash that dynamic.
It would establish a public campaign financing system in which participating political candidates must raise at least $10 (and no more than $50) from 600 Seattle residents. Those funds would then be publicly matched six-to-one, giving each candidate no more than $245,000 to spend on his or her bid for office. It would be paid for by the smallest property tax in Seattle history (averaging less than $7 annually for a $400,000 home). In other cities, public campaign financing has led to more women, young people, and minority candidates running for office. Approve this measure, or resign yourself to watching another decade of our current council members suckling at their caviar feeding tubes as they slowly die on the dais.