Catherine Weatbrook has a finely tuned ear for the frustrations of the Seattle City Council District No. 6.
THE Ballard and Fremont neighborhoods have received an inordinate amount of focus of the residential development boom, bringing vitality and many headaches.
The new Seattle City Council district elections gives those neighborhoods a chance to vote in a strong representative and to inject some common sense into land-use planning. In Seattle City Council District No. 6, Catherine Weatbrook is the better choice.
The Times recommends:
Seattle City Council District 6
Strengths: Engineering background to problems; pragmatic
Weatbrook, a longtime Ballard neighborhood activist and co-chair of Seattle’s City Neighborhood Council, has a finely tuned ear to citizens’ frustrations. She brings an engineering background to problems and is more pragmatic than her opponent, incumbent Mike O’Brien.
Voters should take the time to hear her nuanced analysis of the city’s current affordable-housing push. She rightly notes that the mayor’s plan proposes massive upzoning of urban villages, but City Hall has yet to vet it with neighborhoods, the same neighborhoods that played a major role in the creation of those same urban villages in the 1990s.
She is also right that the new proposals are not explicitly tied to transportation infrastructure improvements. Weatbrook wants to pay for those in part with developer impact fees, which O’Brien deprioritizes in favor of a questionably legal linkage fee to pay for affordable housing.
Weatbrook (and The Seattle Times editorial board) opposes the $930 million“Move Seattle” transportation levy on the November ballot because it is too big and lacks accountability. She’s also a staunch supporter of the maritime industry, which built Ballard and has buffered Seattle through boom and bust cycles.
O’Brien has solid attributes as a smart, hardworking councilmember. But he is governed by ideology even at the expense of his constituents — see his role as lead “kayaktivist” against the Shell Arctic oil rig that benefits the maritime workers he should be representing.
The editorial board did not endorse any candidate in the primary for District 6, but now picks Weatbrook because she has become a much stronger candidate and is a clear contrast to O’Brien.
Seattle’s shift to district elections gives voters a fresh chance at a new council. Catherine Weatbrook should be on it.