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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Is There a Human Rights Problem with the New Districts Map?

Posted by on Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Take a look. Where do you live?
  • Seattle Districts Now
  • Take a look. Where do you live? A zoomable version is right here.

Chris Stearns, an attorney who recently served as chair of the Seattle Human Rights Commission, sent an e-mail to colleagues today that raises concerns with the districts measure, Charter Amendment 19. By a 63-36 margin, voters decided to require that the Seattle City Council be elected by seven districts and two-at large seats (currently, all council members are elected at-large).

"Crap," wrote Stearns, "it looks like from the text of Charter Amendment 19 that the Seattle voting district boundaries are already drawn... I think there is an urgent need for someone like the Seattle Human Rights Commission to study the current district lines and investigate whether they will positively or negatively affect minority voting in Seattle."

But this isn't a new issue. As we mentioned back in October, some folks (rather quietly) opposed the districts proposal because it came with a pre-fab map that includes only one district with a majority population of racial minorities (District 2). A coalition of local progressive and labor groups wanted a nine-district map that would include two such districts. (A nine-district proposal failed most recently in 2003).

What matters now is that this is the measure that passed—and it may pit council members against each other! So now is a good moment for everyone to get acquainted with their district. The transition will be a little bumpy, but eventually you'll be voting for city council members every two years.

FINDING YOUR DISTRICT: Wherever your address puts you, that's your new city council district. If you live directly on a street that serves as a district boundary, like a stretch of North 85th Street in Greenwood, the line is in the middle of the street, just like it is for legislative districts.

EVERY COUNCIL SEAT UP FOR ELECTION: Starting in 2015, you'll be voting for one city council member who lives in your district and two at-large council people who represent the entire city (they can live anywhere in town).

STAGGERING ELECTIONS: In 2017, at-large seats will be up for election again, because those seats are voted on the same year as the mayor. Seattle Districts Now spokesman Eugene Wasserman says that was deliberate: "We set it up that people who run at-large have to run when the mayor runs, so if they ran against the mayor they’d have to give up their seat." That means any current council members wanting to run at-large in 2015 would have to run again two years later just to keep the seat.

NEW NORMAL: In 2019, you'll vote just for your district council member, after they've served a four-year term. The first opportunity to redraw district boundaries will come after the 2020 census, when a redistricting commission will be formed to address population shifts reflected by census data. In 2021, you'll vote for the two at-large positions again, rinse, repeat. Got it?

How's this going to affect the current council? Why, I'm so glad you asked! Here's how it stands now:

Tom Rasmussen lives in District 1.
Sally Clark and Bruce Harrell live in District 2.
Richard Conlin lives in District 3.
Jean Godden lives in District 4.
Nobody lives in District 5.
Nick Licata and Mike O'Brien live in District 6.
Tim Burgess and Sally Bagshaw live in District 7.

That means three districts have council members that could—could—run against each other (if they both try to go for the district seat).

Kshama Sawant has already said she'll challenge Richard Conlin in the Capitol Hill district (District 3) where she also lives. And Wasserman says someone on his campaign looked into the primary results by district and said Sawant beat Conlin in their district. (We haven't independently confirmed that yet.) If Sawant did win in 2015, that would mean a person of color would've won a seat that's not in the more racially diverse District 3. Meanwhile, city hall watchers generally assume Godden will retire before she has to run again. Speculatively, I'd think centrist Clark would want to run at-large and leave Harrell to run in the Southeast Seattle district, and perhaps Licata will retire instead of running against fellow progressive O'Brien in their Fremont/Ballard/Green Lake district (District 6). But unless people move to other neighborhoods, it looks impossible for all the incumbents to have seats after the 2015 election.

If the Human Rights Commission—or anyone else—does want to tinker with the map, the soonest they could do it is 2020. At that point we may know if the districts have any impact on the racial composition of the council. As Stearns says, "I am pretty sure that the Amendment 19 proponents drew the boundaries without seriously considering proportionate voting patterns." And it's true—the districts campaign did not draw their map specifically to empower underrepresented populations, as districts are sometimes drawn. But district proponents have long disputed that their map has a race problem. They say districts encourage younger, more diverse candidates who can win races by knocking on doors instead of raising mountains of cash. Wasserman also points out that the state's only majority-minority congressional district so far elected a white man, Adam Smith.


Comments (92) RSS

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@99, One of the first things I look at in a candidate is their endorsement page.

With districts, the endorsements of local organizations and media will increase in significance. You agree with districts "politicians will have a better shot at actually talking to the people." Charter 19 opens the door to make city council members representative and accountable. Of course there's no guarantee people will do it, but that's up to all of us, isn't it?

You predict the district based council will have worse performance from a weaker field. On what evidence do you base this conclusion? You don't think 1/7 of Seattle (population 90,000) can come up with equally or more likely to be elected qualified candidates? What does your assumption say about your opinion of the people in unrepresented communities all over town?

I disagree with your view of the quality of Conlin's policy positions, and at least half of the electorate agree with me, being willing (or eager) to vote for the demonified "socialist." (If Sawant had gone for Democratic District endorsements, she would have won hands down.)

Posted by TobyinFremont on November 9, 2013 at 10:38 PM · Report this
You don't know when to stop.

When (and if) you really want to get to know me instead of your construct of me from internet research, blogs, and one (angry by you) exchange on the street in Ballard, let me know. I'll be happy to talk with you when you can promise to be civil; I am easy to contact off line.

Now I'm done. Ta.
Posted by TobyinFremont on November 9, 2013 at 8:19 PM · Report this
Actually, one last parting shot:

Toby, I know you think my comments (especially the last) are just aimless ad hominem attacks that you can smugly dismiss.

But what you can't bring yourself to see, through your haze of "I've got mine and everyone should aspire to be me" arrogance and selfishness, is that you and your peers have been privileged by generational timing and little else. If you were graduating from law school a generation later, you would be saddled with as much as 30x the debt and emerging into a less financially gratifying market. Your Fremont starter house would be out of reach, priced at perhaps 15x as much as you paid back in the day, thanks more than slightly to the anti-development activities of selfish elders like you. You'd have years of renting in your future, presumably somewhere overpriced or poorly located, again thanks to the selfishness of the Toby Thalers of the world.

Of course, this presumes you'd even have been smart enough to gain access to your elite educational track in a statistically more competitive environment, which, as I may have mentioned, I wholeheartedly doubt.

Someday, selfish jerks like you will cease to control the political discourse. Don't think the put-upon generation behind you will forget how hard you've worked to sabotage its quality of life.
Posted by d.p. on November 9, 2013 at 3:15 PM · Report this
I made a long comment about charter 19 here:…

The long story short, if you like the way the House of Representatives work, you'll love the new Seattle districts. I don't predict the same level of doom of gloom, just worse performance from a weaker field.

This quote caught my eye "Licata will retire instead of running against fellow progressive O'Brien". What? All of the council members are progressive. But if you think Licata is as progressive as O'Brien on the important issues (like zoning) then you really are out of touch. O'Brien and Conlin have been the leaders (well, mostly Conlin, because he has had the experience) on zoning laws. They are the ones that are basically saying "sorry, we won't require that new building to have parking, and you may have to live next to an apartment instead of a really big house" while the rest of council (especially Licata) tries to please everyone. In other words, if you are a landlord, you must love Licata.

If there is one good thing that comes out of this election, it is that The Stranger editorial staff might reconsider some of their arrogant assumptions. What used to be a great editorial staff has somehow gone the way of The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times has always been a conservative newspaper, but they used to focus more on qualifications, rather than expressed ideology. Now they make wacko recommendations. The Stranger is now just the opposite, but from the left. Oh how I miss the old Seattle P. I., a progressive paper of substance.
Posted by Ross on November 9, 2013 at 9:39 AM · Report this
"I'm done." Good.
Posted by TobyinFremont on November 8, 2013 at 8:56 PM · Report this
Funny thing, Toby, is that you represent your particular version of Seattle quite well: you're a smug, white, self-satisfied moron who has nevertheless been socially promoted to the status of homeowner professional.

Fuck you and your cocktail of idiocy and deceit. I'm done.
Posted by d.p. on November 8, 2013 at 5:24 PM · Report this
"so now you're opposing the fully-vetted, 20-years-in-planning Burke-Gilman completion plan on Shilshole?"

No, I'm not.

Get a life.
Posted by TobyinFremont on November 8, 2013 at 9:12 AM · Report this
God, Toby, so now you're opposing the fully-vetted, 20-years-in-planning Burke-Gilman completion plan on Shilshole? The one that would look essentially identical to the "industrial" segment next to Leary near Fremont? The one designed specifically to segregate bikes and pedestrians from the "truck arterial" they face today?

The one that the sand & gravel company opposes solely because they want to keep using it as their own private parking lot?

You really are a piece of shit for the ages.
Posted by d.p. on November 8, 2013 at 2:04 AM · Report this
Sorry...just to explain the *13* thing. We have 8 wards, 4 at large, and a council chair elected directly by the people (kind of a "super" at-large). With that, the 3 folks representing the dense parts of the city directly (Wells, Graham, and Evans, if you care to look it up) don't stand a chance if they weren't power players. The 4 at-large largely reside in the less-dense parts of the city (Grosso lives near me in a relatively low-density area, though he is progressive-ish; Catania is also pretty progressive...the other two are "old Washington" folks who would probably lynch me for daring not to own a car). The council chair lives in a rich, low-density neighborhood and has a penchant for opposing development (in his official bio, the only accomplishment highlighted in his history is stopping destruction of a rich, low-density community "close to urban amenities and transit," i.e., exactly where we should be putting more density in - it's in Ward 3, if you're looking at that map).
Posted by Ms. D on November 7, 2013 at 6:56 PM · Report this
@88--Seattle will get the council reflecting our collective work together and in opposition--politics. All CA19 does is change the rules to upset the balance of power a little. Shake it up.

I know you think I'm a stupid, evil, anti-growth zealot, and an unhappy NIMBY who doesn't know what the hell he's doing. Oh woe! You're anger driven blindness makes you so effective and credible I can't stand it.

@ 89, I agree, except: I'm a biker and want those bike routes everywhere, just not stupidly located in the same space as truck arterials.
Posted by TobyinFremont on November 7, 2013 at 6:37 PM · Report this
I hate to be the spoilsport, but "cracking" dense neighborhoods when districts are involved is exclusively a function of their density, not usually some subversive tactic to undermine their interests. Each district should represent 1/7 of the population of the city, and if an area is particularly dense, it either has to be cracked into the surrounding areas or a VERY SMALL district has to be created to represent only their interests, surrounded by much larger districts covering the same number of people.

Here in the other Washington, we have the latter situation (…, LOOK HOW SMALL WARD 1 IS!). Downtown districts are dense and very small, while the districts around them are geographically much larger (I'm in 5, which is approximately 4x the size of 1, 2x the size of 6, etc.). Now, it kind of works for us, BUT ONLY because their councilmembers are long-timers and power players. Put some newbie with no political capital at the helm and NO bike lanes or transit or whatnot get built, because 3/13 isn't even close to a majority (seriously, all 3 of the dense/progressive councilmembers are either making legit runs at mayor in this next election or have in the past, if you doubt they're power players). Honestly, it would probably be better for proliferating the "good stuff" to the other districts if there was a large, vocal minority in districts with opposing interests, since they could make a lot of noise about their councilmember ignoring them if they didn't get what they wanted. Already, vocal minorities (the NIMBYs) wield significant power, but if our councilmember was forced to represent a large, but minority, group of well-to-do people who want progress, it could turn the tables. They could be noisy enough to avoid being ignored, and the councilmember could be forced to "play fair" by building just as many bike lanes in the poorer, less-dense communities a la "see, I got you exactly as much as I got them." Rather than what we have now, where our councilmember ends up opposing a bank (A FUCKING BANK) because "the neighborhood is already over-developed" (NOT EVEN FUCKING CLOSE...there are suburbs denser and with more retail than my district...and, to add insult to injury, we're only *10* minutes via transit from downtown (I can even bike it in 20 minutes), so we SHOULD have more density!), while Mr. Power Player gets a mile of bike lane built in his district every month.
Posted by Ms. D on November 7, 2013 at 6:37 PM · Report this
...oh, and when I called Faye this morning to congratulate her on winning and thank her for risking so much of her own money on something she believed in, she asked if I'd be willing to run for Council in District 5. Who knew I was dealing with such a kingmaker?

Posted by Mr. X on November 7, 2013 at 5:57 PM · Report this
I don't always agree with Faye Garneau, but she's actually a pretty good egg. I don't think she expects to gain anything personally out of this, and instead supported the District campaign to leave what she thought was a better small-d democratic legacy for Seattle. But if it also politically disempowers d.p and his fellow "New Urbanist" travelers in this echo chamber and over at the Seattle Transit Blog, so much the better.

Districts won (and McGinn lost) because your density/bicycle uber alles agenda isn't popular with solid majority of Seattle voters, and they're fed up with having it rammed down their throats in an at-large system. Deal.

Posted by Mr. X on November 7, 2013 at 5:10 PM · Report this
Hey, Toby. I was waiting for you roll in to do some gloating over the con you just pulled.

But apparently, you're incapable of restraining your straw-man approach, obfuscations of your cohort's records, inaccurate attempts to cite precedent, and conflation of "more democratic Seattle City Council" with "more anti-growth zealots who think just like me" long enough to rest on your laurels.

Congratulations. You'll get the Council you bought, and you still won't be happy.
Posted by d.p. on November 7, 2013 at 2:15 PM · Report this
@86--Except some (many?) posters are still not really paying much attention. For example, @82 and @85 have Conlin running in 2015 but he's already said he's not. Makes you wonder about the rest of the blather...
Posted by TobyinFremont on November 7, 2013 at 11:51 AM · Report this
@85: What? Stranger readers are finally waking up to the possibilities of District Elections!?

It only took 85 comments.
Posted by J.R. on November 7, 2013 at 11:42 AM · Report this
Cascadian 85
Worst case in 2015:

Rasmussen, Clark, Sawant, some Laurelhurst NIMBY, some North Seattle NIMBY, a Fremont/Ballard NIMBY, Burgess, and Licata and Peter Steinbrueck as the at-large members.

Best case in 2015: Rasmussen, a progressive minority candidate TBD in the 2nd, Sawant, a U-District urbanist/youth member in the 4th, McGinn in the 5th, O'Brien in the 6th, Burgess or Bagshaw in the 7th, Conlin in one at-large, and a progressive urbanist newbie TBD in the second at-large.

Rather than whining about what is already done, progressive urbanists need to rally behind the good candidates available (Conlin, McGinn, O'Brien, Sawant) and those yet to be found (in the 4th, in district 2 to push Harrell in a progressive direction, and in the at-large districts). We could actually improve things quite a bit.
Posted by Cascadian on November 7, 2013 at 11:37 AM · Report this
@51: Garneau has made no secret of her desire to influence future elections and to buy herself disproportionate control.

Where do you pull this crap out of?

copious social-media spamming

Is your kettle black?

@57: authors of this change spent their pre-election days and nights on blogs like this one, swearing up and down that they had a "pan-ideological coalition" (not true) and that they were guided only by equal representation and immaculate neutrality (also not true).

The point of Charter 19 is to maximize participation and empowerment in governance by the governed.

It's called democracy. Try it; you might like it.
Posted by TobyinFremont on November 7, 2013 at 11:20 AM · Report this
@45--You're very right and very wrong:

Right that coalition politicking to recruit and push progressive/liberal/minority candidates started yesterday.

Wrong that the "Queen of Aurora Avenue" is going to be a major factor in District 5 (or any other district). First, she cannot put six figures into those campaigns because it's illegal, and Second, she got what she wanted--a more democratic Seattle City Council. Small d and large R are not inherently inconsistent, at least not in the 1950s world that she grew up in.
Posted by TobyinFremont on November 7, 2013 at 11:01 AM · Report this
Cascadian 82
I think both extremes of this debate are overreacting. You really need to look at the incumbents and the individual districts to see how it will shake out.

District 1: Tom Rasmussen could easily run and hold the seat as the effective incumbent.

District 2: Harrell v. Clark. Harrell has more support and is a good match for the district. Clark would have an uphill battle. So I'd expect her to try for one of the at-large seats.

District 3: Sawant's a good bet. Conlin's smart; he'll run for one of the at-large districts instead.

District 4: Godden will retire, setting up a battle between someone representing the university population and someone representing Laurelhurst. Even if the NIMBY Laurelhurst candidate wins, is that really that much of a departure from Godden?

District 5: Currently unrepresented. Probably this goes to a North End SFH NIMBY business puppet. But give an outside chance to a McGinn candidacy.

District 6: O'Brien v. Licata. This would be close, I think.

District 7: Burgess v. Bagshaw. Does it really matter?

At large, 8 and 9: Probably taken by Conlin and Clark, or people who are roughly equivalent.

On balance, I don't see a deep shift in any clear direction. Maybe a couple more NIMBYish neighborhood types, but they'll be balanced by lefty Sawant. I suppose it could be bad if Conlin tries to run for the 3rd instead of the at-large, and loses, since he's actually one of the better members for transit and development issues.

You could argue that the current incumbents won't have an advantage and that in a wide-open election, there could be a more dramatic shift. But I think name recognition of current council members, plus the lack of campaign finance rules allowing them to stockpile money, means they will tend to stay in office. The real question is what happens when the current members retire.
Posted by Cascadian on November 7, 2013 at 10:38 AM · Report this
@7 are you ready for a more conservative seattle? because thats what we will get

That's only true if leftists, minorities, youth, etc. sit out the 2015 election. Experience in San Francisco and other liberal cities tells us the opposite is what is likely to happen: districts result in a more demographically diverse and liberal council because the council better reflects the demographics and liberal values of the majority of residents all around town.

Posted by TobyinFremont on November 7, 2013 at 10:19 AM · Report this
Councilmember in another district not doing the right thing for you? When the next election comes along, send $200 to his/her opponent, and go over and doorbell a precinct or two for that opponent. Far more effective than merely voting against him/her if you lived in that district. Councilmembers who regularly stiff non-constituents will be in for surprises

And Charlie Mas, School Board districts are drawn up by incumbent school board members, and the lines divide more neighborhoods than they should. Best outcome would be for school board elections to follow the new city council districts. When city districts are redrawn after the next census, it will occur in an open process under an independent commission, unlike the private and secretive process used by the school district.

Posted by Citizen R on November 7, 2013 at 10:05 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 79
Again, that's silly. For one, three choices is hardly "pretty much out of luck," even by that standard. Have you ever had to get to a fourth member after being ignored by the first three? Secondly, you think big-moneyed interests didn't already have the ear of all nine members? City-wide races are clearly more costly than they would be for a district 1/7th the size.

I'd say you're letting the perfect be the enemy of the good by bringing these up, but the all at-large model already did not mesh up with they way you're presenting them.

Anyway, what's done is done. The topic was actually whether these new district boundaries were fairly drawn or not, which I have little to say about, other than what I've already said.
Posted by Matt from Denver on November 7, 2013 at 10:04 AM · Report this
DOUG. 78
@76: "Pretty much out of luck" is not the same as "out of options". "Pretty much out of luck" means that your options have dwindled from 9 to 3.

And how responsive will those two at-large Councilmembers be to your needs, especially if your needs are not the same as the big-moneyed interests that probably got those two Councilmembers elected citywide in the first place?
Posted by DOUG. on November 7, 2013 at 9:27 AM · Report this

If they want real change, this might lead the way to Seattle Secession!

Districts #1, #2, (#3, #7), (#4, #5, #6) are four distinct cities in their own unique as Bellevue, Issquah, Kent, Renton.

Each rightly sized city would slim down from a 600,000 person Leviathan to a manageable 120K.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on November 7, 2013 at 9:05 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 76
@ 74, "But what if this single, local representative is not responsive to your needs? You're pretty much out of luck. Also, you have absolutely no say in who is elected to six of the nine seats on the City Council, further limiting your power in representational government."

That's silly. That's when you go to the at-large seat next. So you're NOT out of options if your local person is unresponsive. (I generally have to do that because my councilperson here in Denver is pretty conservative, NIMBY type.) You contradicted yourself when you at least pointed out that you would have three.
Posted by Matt from Denver on November 7, 2013 at 9:04 AM · Report this
People are saying that #2 is the only minority majority district, but I think that is wrong. If you look closer at the east half of #1 they are heavily minority districts, and they are much denser that they affluent west Seattle neighborhoods. What about Highpoint, White Center, Delridge, and South Park. If district #1 isn't majority minority now it will be soon with all the affordable housing being built in those areas.
Posted by wl on November 7, 2013 at 8:28 AM · Report this
DOUG. 74
@70: When looking for a system of representative democracy where grassroots campaigns have a shot at unseating incumbents, I don't think you should use the United States House of Representatives as your model of success.

@73: Check out my Voter's Guide. Scroll down to Amendment 19. I addressed that very issue.
Posted by DOUG. on November 7, 2013 at 8:22 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 73
@ 55/65, that's like saying that a full 434 members of Congress don't represent you, or 48 senators don't represent you. It's nonsense.

In any politically defined region like a city, there are smaller portions with unique needs. The all at-large model does not serve that well. One person is much better at understanding your needs (both as an individual and a resident of a particular neighborhood) than nine people looking after an entire city.

Serious question here. When you had a municipal issue and you wanted to contact the city council, how did you go about doing that? Did you contact every council member's office, hoping one would get back to you? Or would you pick one, employing your own unique criteria for determining which one would be most sympathetic to your position?
Posted by Matt from Denver on November 7, 2013 at 7:38 AM · Report this
Rotten666 72
I'm with Pol Pot on this one. People need to relax and see how this thing that shakes out.

Posted by Rotten666 on November 7, 2013 at 7:38 AM · Report this
I'm sure someone already has an answer for this, but why aren't the seven city council districts the same as the seven school board director districts? They're kinda close, but not a perfect match.
Posted by Charlie Mas on November 7, 2013 at 7:25 AM · Report this
Doug @55, yep, I won't get to vote for 2/3rds of my City Council. Just like I don't get to vote for 48/49ths of the State Legislature, or 434/435ths of the US Congress. It's called representative democracy.

You may feel like you have the power now to "vote them out" but you don't. The at-large system is gamed for incumbents. Your theoretical power to vote bad guys doesn't work when incumbents are challenged only by obvious incompetents -- the situation this week with Bagshaw and Licata.

Serious challengers for City Council have regularly steered clear of incumbents, giving them a free pass. By empowering grassroots campaign strategies, challenging incumbents will be much less daunting.

As I'm fond of saying, it's better to be listened to by one than ignored by nine. Most ordinary citizens will be better off politically under the new system. The only ones who might be getting a slightly cooler reception in City Hall will be the Chris Hansens of the world. Nothing wrong with that.
Posted by Citizen R on November 7, 2013 at 5:31 AM · Report this
The chairing of committees is rotational, so means nothing, and Rasmussen's supposed bravity in "interfering" with other committess is BS.
Posted by sarah70 on November 7, 2013 at 12:20 AM · Report this
I don't really care about impressing you, @63. But for the record, I actually argued against the racial "packing" that's been done between the I.D. and Rainier Beach. And I've now emphasized thrice that grouping areas with similar population and economic-activity densities will yield you much better representation than any race- or class-based grouping. So I'm not sure where the fuck you're pulling your accusations of racism from.

I don't know Garneau personally, but I do know that enforcing homeowner supremacy throughout the map will have adverse consequences for many non-white and non-wealthy populations. So perhaps your accusations are woefully misplaced.
Posted by d.p. on November 6, 2013 at 11:38 PM · Report this
DOUG. 65
@59: Not true. You can currently vote for (or against) all nine of your Councilmembers. They represent you regardless of where they live.
Posted by DOUG. on November 6, 2013 at 11:08 PM · Report this
Relax everyone. Let's see who rises from the froth to successfully represent their districts. Don't like the current geographical configuration of the districts?
Stop complaining and change them. You have that

Frankly, I think this is going to become rather interesting experiment, and it is hilarious to read the foreboding comments of the characters who regularly post on Slop.
Posted by Fairhaven on November 6, 2013 at 11:05 PM · Report this
@57- you're a tiresome, condescending crank. And yes, you are arguing for racial and class gerrymandering if you're arguing to group Madison Park, Laurelhurst and Wedgwood together because they have more in common with each other than with Yesler Terrace. (Your words, not mine). You're arguing for racial gerrymandering when you assert that the CD and Rainier Valley should be a district because they share "routine interaction", whatever the fuck that means.
I agree with you that the original backer has less than altruistic motivations for sponsoring the initiative. However, I don't think it will work out quite the way she planned, and, frankly, I think you're a bigger dick than her. At least she's not openly racist.
Posted by Pol Pot on November 6, 2013 at 11:00 PM · Report this
The thought of Jean Godden trying to defend her past representation of the University District and Wallingford does give me a cheshire cat grin.

I guess all the City Council people will just have to go on a ropes course and do trust falls on "teambuilding" retreats until they learn to do what's good for the city overall while also representing any unique needs from those in their district.
Posted by ChefJoe on November 6, 2013 at 10:48 PM · Report this
@55- I'll be represented by three members? Awesome! That's a 300% improvement over the current situation, where me and my district 5 neighbors have no one representing us, so, yay!
Seriously, you do get that district reps won't be operating in a complete vacuum, right?
Posted by Pol Pot on November 6, 2013 at 10:45 PM · Report this
I would love for McGinn to run in Dist. 5. I think we have enough non-rich people in Lake City and Northgate to outvote the View Ridgers.
Posted by sarah70 on November 6, 2013 at 10:42 PM · Report this
@54: If the young "progressives" of this city are really as dense and credulous as you all seem to be, then we deserve to get screwed by the results of this change, as we inevitably will.

I'm not arguing for "gerrymandering districts along class and racial lines." I'm merely arguing against the willful subjugation of urban-neighborhood voters with urban-neighborhood needs, and against an entrenched-by-design NIMBY majority with veto power over everything.

It remains telling that the designers of this map and authors of this change spent their pre-election days and nights on blogs like this one, swearing up and down that they had a "pan-ideological coalition" (not true) and that they were guided only by equal representation and immaculate neutrality (also not true). When anyone dared challenge their narrative, or their "grassroots-ness", they freaked out and responded with a barrage of strawmen and distortions of their own records. They pulled out all the stops to discredit their skeptics and maintain control over the discourse.

They succeeded. You're stupid. We're fucked.
Posted by d.p. on November 6, 2013 at 10:41 PM · Report this
seatackled 56
Pioneer Square and Magnolia are in the same district. Real Change gets to be part of Magnolia.
Posted by seatackled on November 6, 2013 at 10:35 PM · Report this
DOUG. 55
Regardless of how and where the lines are drawn, the fact remains that every citizen of Seattle will now be represented by just three members of the City Council. A full two-thirds of the "your" City Council will not represent you, and you will not have the power to vote them out. This is a step backwards.
Posted by DOUG. on November 6, 2013 at 10:31 PM · Report this
@51- lord, you are tiresome. All you're arguing for is gerrymandering districts along class and racial lines. Put all the like minded white folks (Madison Park, Laurelhurst, Wedgwood) in one district, despite there being no logical, geographic connection between them. (Does montlake stay in Capitol Hill, or ?) Group all the CD and Rainier Valley together, because, you know, brown people, who can all identify with Yesler Terrace, apparently. (Except that in a few short years, the Terrace becomes yuppy condos... What then?)
You're a serious crank. Stop pretending you have a valid point. You don't.
Posted by Pol Pot on November 6, 2013 at 10:19 PM · Report this
The only way to create more than one majority-minority district would be by absolutely torturing the district boundary lines -- like regularly occurs in legislative and congressional redistricting -- districts where many people can't figure out which district they live in by looking at the map. Straight and logical boundary lines make much more sense.

And the reality is that most Seattle voters don't vote by race, and minority candidates like Sawant are electable in districts that are majority white.

Much ado about nothing here, folks. Time to accept the results, the overwhelming results, and move on. City Council will be more diverse politically, and likely ethnically too.

Good news all around (except for the tired incumbents who will need to find something else to occupy their time)
Posted by Citizen R on November 6, 2013 at 10:02 PM · Report this
@48, hello fellow District 5 denizen. Maybe Nick Licata will move up here to represent us.
Posted by ChefJoe on November 6, 2013 at 10:00 PM · Report this
Want to hear something hilarious, @35? Outgoing mayor and certified NIMBY-bogeyman Mike McGinn... is a resident of District 5.

Of course, he lives close to the Greenwood Urban Village, yet another neighborhood divided-and-conquered by your map!

As for your strawman... no one denied that there's lots of suburban landscape and suburban culture in this city, and no one ever tried to deny you fair representation. But this proposal and this map, explicitly gerrymandered by your friends, aims to deny representation to others.

Garneau has made no secret of her desire to influence future elections and to buy herself disproportionate control. It's as telling that you endorse her intentions as it is that you were "in the room" when this map was drawn.


@31: For starters, unlike the "stupid fucking credulous hacks" at The Stranger's endorsement meeting, I wouldn't vote for a deeply flawed proposal in the first place. The intent of this amendment was obvious to anyone who cared to dig past the shiny leaflets and copious social-media spamming.

Secondly, I wouldn't vote for apportioned districts in any city where the City Council was empowered to wield a budgetary bludgeon so as to run roughshod over the executive on any and all matters of consequence. Most cities with district-based councils still have mayors making final decisions. The councilors work to focus attention on matters of consequence in their districts, but when the chips fall, the executive is in charge of making sure that decisions pan out well for all citizens. District councilors gain influence through collaboration, not obstruction. This distinction was missed or ignored by all those screaming in comment threads about "district councils being the norm everywhere".

But if you absolutely must have districts, I would submit (as have others before me) that the layout of our city would make a map with nine districts much harder to pack-and-crack than a map with seven.

And if you absolutely musthave seven districts, you'd get a fairer result by approaching them semi-concentrically rather than as giant pie slices. Downtown and adjacent urban areas would be their own district, rather than being carved into parts of three. The Central District would wind up with Leschi and much of the Rainier Valley, with whom they share a great deal of routine interaction. Madison Park would likely share representation with Laurelhurst and Wedgwood, with whom they have far more in common than they have with Yesler Terrace. And the Ballard-Fremont-Wallingford corridor would certainly wind up in a single district, rather than split in half.

The proposal that passed -- thanks to its proponents' lies and exploitation of low-information voters, and to The Stranger's pathological hatred of the present council and stupid fucking credulous hackery -- is a Trojan Horse of immense proportions. So no, I'm not just "picking nits".
Posted by d.p. on November 6, 2013 at 9:46 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 50

Yea I am sure you live near all kinds of minorities and poors up there on lilly white Phinny Ridge.


I agree with The love Miss Vel-DuRay.

Maybe we could have a City Senate made up of the large districts and a city House of Representivites for the smaller neighborhoods. The more local the better.

We can siphon the money from Welfare.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on November 6, 2013 at 9:21 PM · Report this
DOUG. 49
@48: They had a mayor. Until yesterday.
Posted by DOUG. on November 6, 2013 at 9:21 PM · Report this
MrBaker 48
"Nobody lives in District 5."
Nobody represents District 5, and we noticed.

I get the complaining that some folks might not like where a line was drawn, or that it didn't weight power in your favor, but you will get zero sympathy from anybody in north Seattle.

The 60 (sixty) blocks that run from 85th up to the city limits doesn't have a single council rep right now.

Now, maybe all of Seattle can benefit from being Seattle.
Posted by MrBaker on November 6, 2013 at 9:14 PM · Report this
raindrop 46
@41: 30! Wow. Okay. You know of course, that it would cost the city tens of thousands more to process those many seats on the city council, their staffing, elections, materials, etc. At what point is their a diminishing rate of return between the most granular level of representation (30) and the overall needs of the city and the funds available to meet city's necessary expenditures?
Posted by raindrop on November 6, 2013 at 9:11 PM · Report this
Faye Garneau ad Eugene Wasserman have pulled a fast one on us liberal do-gooders. They want a more conservative government and have paid to make the map that will make that happen. I do not know why anyone trusts them to want or do otherwise. The current Council has many faults and shortcomings, but it is generally committed to a liberal interpretation of governing. This map is set up to elect at least 2-4 well connected conservatives to the Council. Conlin is not running in 2015. Godden won't run again, Licata probably is out (as he should be after 18 years), but that goes to O'Brien, unless he opts to go to Citywide. With #5 open, that's at least 3 open seats. It may be time for a serious slate or two of allies to form and learn ward politics to collaboratively run the district/citywide campaign and fend off the Queen of Aurora Ave.
Posted by Strategic Advisor on November 6, 2013 at 9:10 PM · Report this
@42- what do non-stupid people of intelligence think when you open your slack-jawed cake hole? They think that you should keep your fucking mouth shut, that's what.
Posted by Pol Pot on November 6, 2013 at 9:08 PM · Report this
@34- Seattle will end up with a less progressive council than Bellevue? Really? Now you're just jabbering incoherently.
It is likely Sawant will represent Capitol Hill in the first round. Even if there were no other progressives elected city wide, you already lose that argument.
Yes NIMBYs will represent the Queen Anne/Magnolia district. And they should, because that is who lives there. That is sort of the point. There will be a lot of tension in the district representing the U-district and its wealthy neighbors to the east. That is not, inherently, a bad thing. There will be some victories for both sides. That is the nature of democracy. I find it difficult to believe the district representing Rainier Valley will be inherently anti-progressive, as you suggest.
There are faults in the mapping, and they should be openly discussed and dealt with. However, on a macro level, most of the boundaries are a logical starting point.
You and dp are just engaging in groundless speculation and pointless fear mongering.
Posted by Pol Pot on November 6, 2013 at 9:05 PM · Report this
raindrop 42
What do non-white people of color think when progressive white liberals self-bash their own race? Do they think, "I appreciate your guilty historical perspective, but it's time to move on" -- or do they think, "hey there - don't be so hard on yourself" -- or do they think "yes, all gringos/honkies/whities should feel like you".

In my own extended mixed race family - it was definitely one of the first two.
Posted by raindrop on November 6, 2013 at 8:46 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 41
The city has something like 30 official neighborhoods, complete with boundaries. I think every one of those neighborhoods should have their own representative. It would be excellent.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on November 6, 2013 at 8:46 PM · Report this
raindrop 40
@38: More bike lanes? Seriously? Have you driven Roosevelt Way from Northgate to the U District lately? The bike lane/sharrow is a schizophrenic paint job with (with old trial and errors still showing) meandering from side-to-side. Many street arterials are similar. We don't need more bike lanes, just competent bikers.
Posted by raindrop on November 6, 2013 at 8:25 PM · Report this
raindrop 39
@30: Single family dwellings is urban. What, you want to deprive a family living in an apodment the choice to move up to a house?
Posted by raindrop on November 6, 2013 at 8:17 PM · Report this
Fnarf 38
@33, you seem to be under the impression that all district arrangements are identical. The problem with this scheme isn't that it's districts; it's that the lines have been drawn deliberately to split neighborhoods off from their near fellows, in order to fuck over most of the people who supported this plan. It's divide and conquer. You're getting more NIMBYs, less transit, fewer bike lanes, less development, more white people, more poor people shoved out into the suburbs. That's what you wanted, right?
Posted by Fnarf on November 6, 2013 at 8:13 PM · Report this
JonnoN 37
Mike McGinn for District 5!

I'm looking forward to District 1 electing Goodspaceguy ;)
Posted by JonnoN on November 6, 2013 at 8:13 PM · Report this
Wow, District Elections are shaking up Seattle politics bigtime. Let the losers whimper.
Posted by J.R. on November 6, 2013 at 8:10 PM · Report this
@30 If you fly over the city ( or spend some time on Google maps) you'll see the majority of the land is covered by single family houses. Seattle is actually very suburban in many areas. What's more the people in those homes are allowed to vote and do so.

Also, the campaign finance laws are completely different for candidates than they are for measures.

I like the fact that Faye or anyone else will actually have someone they can turn to or scream at in District 5. They've actually never had that since the area was not part of Seattle back in 1910 when we went to the At-Large system. Think about that. They've never had someone to represent them and now they will.
Posted by Zander on November 6, 2013 at 8:08 PM · Report this
Fnarf 34
D.p. @30 etc. is absolutely correct. This map LOOKS "compact" to an uninformed observer but it splits, and is designed to split, neighborhoods with common interests. The big winner is NIMBY single-family homeowners. There will be no minority councilmembers and no councilmembers interested in minority residents at all. Seattle's going to end up with a less progressive council than friggin' Bellevue.
Posted by Fnarf on November 6, 2013 at 8:07 PM · Report this
meanie 33
I agree with DP, I want a district around just my house, that is also spotted with other people who only agree with me scattered about the city. Any attempt to use geographic or urban boundaries is obviously a conspiracy of the nimby plutocratic welfare state to rob me of my rightful riches and services because district voting is totally unheard of anywhere else and is inherently evil (republican)

Also we should start voting for senators at large, because its the only way voting works.
Posted by meanie on November 6, 2013 at 8:02 PM · Report this
mackro 32
I will only approve of this election process if each city council candidate comes up with a fancy City District Costume... a costume that represents the district most succinctly.. which is really the crux of the matter.

What Grandest Hat Of Them All will someone in District 7 wear as opposed to District 1?
Posted by mackro on November 6, 2013 at 7:52 PM · Report this
@24: Do you by any chance have a suggestion for how to draw this map that manages to put the neighborhoods you feel need to be together together, while coming even CLOSE to this map in terms of compactness overall, while staying with balanced populations between districts?

Or are you just picking nits with no clue how to go about making improvements?

Look at the map. You want to take portions of downtown and give them to District 3. Which portions of district 3 do you give away, to which districts, and have you done the population studies to validate those as similar population sizes?
Posted by Hanoumatoi on November 6, 2013 at 7:43 PM · Report this
Yes, @25, I'm sure that the same Dick Morrill who has spent 40 years sowing fears of density, who thinks the picket-fence aesthetic is the capstone human achievement, who has argued against the Urban Growth Boundary as the culprit behind rising housing prices (while preventing any smarter growth within), and who wrote of his desire
"to make preservation of... the existing single-family zoned housing an overriding priority and a criterion by which citizens may evaluate prospective mayoral and Seattle City Council candidates" no way considered "other demographics", aside from his strange definition of adjacency, in drawing his boundary lines.

It must be a complete coincidence that his resulting map fucks over urbanists and renters in all corners of the city.

@23, I am aware of the changes in the demographics of Lake City. Unfortunately, they won't stop Faye Garneau from running roughshod over you, and purchasing herself a regressive Councilperson just as she purchased herself a rewrite of the City Charter.
Posted by d.p. on November 6, 2013 at 7:36 PM · Report this
raindrop 29
@26: Didn't you mean that you find it hard to believe that any *vegans* live outside of districts #2 and #3?
Posted by raindrop on November 6, 2013 at 7:29 PM · Report this
I would like to see the proposed map that somehow results in minorities being majorities in more than one district. Bonus points if they can make minorities a majority in all districts through some special unreal-number math.
Posted by ChefJoe on November 6, 2013 at 7:13 PM · Report this
raku 26
Are these districts drawn by population? I find it hard to believe that people live outside of districts #2 and #3, although I've heard rumors of an albino village that resides in Ballard.
Posted by raku on November 6, 2013 at 6:52 PM · Report this
Chris has not done his homework. Districts have been set up elsewhere as a court ordered remedy to discrimination.

Moreover, I was in the room as professor Morril's map was finalized, the criteria was equal population, geographic divides and as much as possible keeping neighborhoods together. Other demographics were not considered.
Posted by Zander on November 6, 2013 at 6:51 PM · Report this
That was my irony-inflected point, @13. It makes more sense for people to be representatively linked by geographic/housing/economic/lifestyle situations than by race. And that is exactly what this cracked-density map aims to subvert. As @17-@18 and others seem to be figuring out.

@19 is wrong. Matt from freaking Denver is wrong. This map is drawn so that the Magnolia/Queen Anne old guard will have more say than ever. Sand Point and Wedgwood will outvote the U-District. Wallingforders will be isolated from the Fremonters and Ballardians with whom they share the most similar needs. Capitol Hillers: it's not an accident that you share a district with Montlake and Broadmoor, but not with 2/3 of First Hill. And the I.D. gerrymander is both destructive and offensive.

This map will send at least 4 or 5 NIMBYs-supreme to City Hall. And our Council is empowered with a budgetary veto unmatched in other cities.

A lot of us will no longer be represented at all.

Posted by d.p. on November 6, 2013 at 6:51 PM · Report this
@20- thank you. I live in the new district 5, and I think there is a real opportunity for a very progressive, working class candidate to win that district. The density is in the north end of lake city and around northgate, where there are substantial immigrant communities. There are also some pretty big pockets of cheap, rundown rentals north of 125th along lake city way.
Posted by Pol Pot on November 6, 2013 at 6:43 PM · Report this
Also how has at large representation done in terms of producing a council that is accountable to nonwhite voters?
Posted by Trevor on November 6, 2013 at 6:37 PM · Report this
The map has been out for months and he's just not getting around to noticing and wanting to do something about it? Maybe the real problem is that we need a new Human Rights Commissioner.
Posted by pkbrown on November 6, 2013 at 6:37 PM · Report this
Anyone who thinks that everything north of the ship canal is white hasn't been to Lake City or Northgate recently.
Posted by Trevor on November 6, 2013 at 6:34 PM · Report this
stirwise 19
Admittedly, I'm biased to districts because it's how I lived until I was 30, but I'm feeling fairly optimistic about this going forward. I agree with @4 in particular about the map and disagree with @10 about the consequences. It would be helpful to see where the population density lies in the districts, because I suspect that, as a voting block, Western Capitol Hill is more powerful than the Eastern slope, simply because it's more dense. I don't think this will result in a uniformly conservative city council, but will hopefully result in a city council that actually does a decent job of representing the entire city, not just the interests of its most populous neighborhoods.
Again, I'm biased. I really liked my alderman in Chicago, he got shit done in my neighborhood. I have no idea if that will happen in Seattle.
Posted by stirwise on November 6, 2013 at 6:23 PM · Report this
DOUG. 18
I live in Wallingford. Our neighborhood gets fucked by this map. The interests of the U District and Laurelhurst overlap very little with ours.

I can't wait to see who signs up to run in District 4. No doubt it'll be a crew of folks from east of the freeway. I hate Eastsiders!
Posted by DOUG. on November 6, 2013 at 6:17 PM · Report this
The boundaries between districts 7,3 and 2 are a little problematic. Why is eastlake part of Wallingford and the U-district, and SLU folded into Capitol Hill? And why is Chinatown not part of the downtown core? Overall though, I'm happy with the result and look forward to getting rid of do nothing nimrods like Godden and Bagshaw.
Posted by Pol Pot on November 6, 2013 at 6:14 PM · Report this
I wish every state would pass laws/initiatives/whatever, that compel districts to be created with an emphasis on geographic contiguity. That's why I love this map. If it means that my district elects someone more conservative than my preference, fine. People who preferred city-wide elections because it allows the more libel folks to drown out conservative voices are exactly like the gerrymanderers who gave us the current composition of the U.S. House.
Posted by Reader/Poster on November 6, 2013 at 6:07 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 15
@ 7, no, you won't.
Posted by Matt from Denver on November 6, 2013 at 6:07 PM · Report this
@10 As a minority I want someone who shares my values not who looks like me.
Posted by Seattle14 on November 6, 2013 at 6:00 PM · Report this
@7 how so we are still a very democratic city the only district where a moderate democrat might do well is 1,4, and 7.
Posted by Seattle14 on November 6, 2013 at 5:59 PM · Report this
As those of us who actually bothered to look at the map, to review the staggeringly urban-phobic statements of its designer, and to plumb the past NIMBY activities of the initiative's sole funder and few-but-loud active campaigners before voting have been warning for months...

The real and potent danger of this map is its careful use of a "packing and cracking" strategy to dilute the interests of urbanized areas, renters, and populations that don't drive as much. The urban center of our city is "cracked" into three districts, such that First Hill, the western slope of Capitol Hill, and Belltown will have no one looking out for their interests. It does the same to the growth neighborhoods north of the Ship Canal, all of which will be poorly represented, if at all.

That this cracking led to some corollary "packing" -- the I.D. and Little Saigon now inhabit a district that stretches eight miles to the Skyway border, but denies them a symbiosis with people a block from their subway station -- may have been accidental. But Seattle Districts Now never seemed too concerned. All minorities think and vote alike, right?

As far as I can tell, The Stranger's sole reason for endorsing the charter amendment was its hatred for some of the council's incumbents. "The enemy of my enemy must be my friend", right?

Posted by d.p. on November 6, 2013 at 5:40 PM · Report this
Dougsf 9
@3 I agree. The next round of candidates will likely focus their platform on issues that speak directly to their district and overcome some of the apathy a percentage of voters might feel toward city council elections.
Posted by Dougsf on November 6, 2013 at 5:35 PM · Report this
I have to say, for the alleged faults, this district map looks fantastic. This is what districts at all levels should look like. Not gerrymandered, including as much of the natural geographic boundaries as possible, etc.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on November 6, 2013 at 5:34 PM · Report this
California Kid 7
are you ready for a more conservative seattle? because thats what we will get
Posted by California Kid on November 6, 2013 at 5:31 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 6
Thanks for COMPLETELY FUCKING US OVER with an initiative funded by a SINGLE BATSHIT IDIOT, Seattle.
Posted by kk in seattle on November 6, 2013 at 5:30 PM · Report this
seandr 4
the districts campaign did not draw their map specifically to empower underrepresented populations

And they shouldn't. That would be racial gerrymandering, regardless of whether it the Human Rights Commission or rabid Republicans are behind it.
Posted by seandr on November 6, 2013 at 5:24 PM · Report this
There will likely be a significant turnover in city council representation in the coming election cycles. I really can't see many of the current council members reping a district.
Posted by Fairhaven on November 6, 2013 at 5:23 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 2
West Seattle is NUMBER 1!!!

As usual.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on November 6, 2013 at 5:13 PM · Report this
Baconcat 1
Well, of note to Stearns: I live in 3 which simultaneously has the census tract with the most Native Americans (and I live in it helping bump that number up) and the least ndns overall. Weird position to be in.
Posted by Baconcat on November 6, 2013 at 5:09 PM · Report this

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