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Improve Seattle Council
Some election years, a fever sweeps the city, producing big change on the Seattle City Council. This year, the climate seems milder, with few burning issues or miniscandals.
That said, there may be some turnover because of the high quality of certain candidates.
In Position 7, Tim Burgess receives The Times' endorsement over incumbent Councilman David Della.
Burgess brings an impressive background in law enforcement, journalism, community activism and advertising work for nonprofit organizations.
While Della and The Times have aligned on key issues, Burgess has the leadership qualities and civic résumé this page has sought for some time.
A former Seattle police detective, Burgess is a past chairman of the Queen Anne Community Council and the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission. He co-founded an advertising firm in 1985, focusing on nonprofit groups.
In guest columns for this paper, Burgess traced the corrupting influence of strip-club contributions to City Council members with power over zoning decisions. Strippergate and other tumults cost several council members their seats in 2003, with Della ousting then-incumbent Heidi Wills.
Burgess has been characterized as too Republican, evangelical and anti-abortion, labels that don't ring true. While having contributed to individual Republicans and penned a faith-based-values op-ed in The Times, Burgess describes himself as a progressive Democrat who is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. More to the point, his police, business and neighborhood background will be an asset on the council.
We have agreed with Della, not Burgess, on matters such as replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a new aerial structure, and licensing nightclubs. But Della is not the leader Burgess can, and will, be.
For Position 3, the open seat, Seattle voters are most fortunate to have two very strong candidates, Venus Velázquez, a public-relations expert, and Bruce Harrell, a lawyer.
Both candidates are highly qualified and would bring terrific new energy to the council. Our choice is Harrell, because of his lengthy community involvement and more methodical approach to problem solving.
Harrell has been involved in University of Washington alumni affairs. He brings direct council experience, having worked early in his career for highly respected former Councilmember Paul Kraabel.
Harrell has been active in our community and has demonstrated an ability to work complex issues as an attorney for business and nonprofit organizations.
He seems more inclined to steer clear of some of the sillier things the council does.
Velázquez is feisty and well-versed; she has done solid work on social issues and on behalf of neighborhoods.
In the end, Harrell would do a better job building consensus through the art of persuading and cajoling colleagues.
For Position 1, the seat currently held by Jean Godden, the case could be made for change, but challenger Joe Szwaja has not made a compelling reason to oust the incumbent, despite his strong record of community service.
Godden gets the endorsement, with a caveat: She needs to be more thoughtful about her work because some of her favorite actions are not impressive. For example, she brags about dreaming up the idea of the overpriced downtown tunnel, while 70 percent of Seattle voters opposed it.
Godden worked hard on energy matters and residents will thank her for lowering residential electricity rates by 8 percent. Yet some energy experts believe the rate reductions are too steep.
Godden has championed the popular traveling bookmobile, fighting to save it when it was threatened by budget cuts.
On the downside, Godden is beholden to the nightclub lobby, and on its behalf introduced a silly amendment to delay a vote on a reasonable license until a year from now, effectively killing a sensible solution to a real problem.
In Position 9, Sally Clark is endorsed to retain the council seat she has held since January 2006, when she replaced Jim Compton. Her past experience as a legislative aide and department staffer and her current work as a council member place her far ahead of newcomer Judy Fenton. Clark has earned a full four-year term.
MONDAY: Seattle charter amendments
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