In the race for Seattle City Council Position 8, Fremont Brewing co-founder Sara Nelson is the most qualified. Nelson’s progressive ideology syncs with the city’s values, and her experience would make the council more effective.

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Among a strong group of candidates running for Seattle City Council Position 8, Sara Nelson stands out as the most qualified.

The Times recommends:

Sara Nelson


Seattle City Council Position 8

Strengths: Sara Nelson knows the mechanics of City Hall as well as its practical impacts on businesses. She strikes the right balance between growth and livability, and progressive ideas and fiscal responsibility.

Nelson is a smart, experienced and pragmatic progressive aligned with the city’s values, and her business and legislative experience will improve the effectiveness of the City Council."

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A Green Lake progressive and environmentalist, Nelson covers much of the same ideological territory as her opponents. Yet Nelson has a greater depth of experience and breadth of perspective, plus a refreshing candor about the city’s challenges.

Her challengers are all activists contributing to the community and public affairs, but the council is already stacked with ambitious activists.

What Seattle’s council could use is more pragmatic representatives like Nelson — people who want to help the city they love by sharing their expertise, with no plans to advance a political career or serve a particular constituency.

Nelson, who has a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Washington, is a former legislative aide to Councilman Richard Conlin. That experience gives her a better understanding of the mechanics of City Hall than anyone in the race. She has developed legislation, built consensus and gotten laws passed.

Conlin told this board that Nelson “was absolutely instrumental in doing a lot of work at the council … and a person I could rely on.”

Nelson went on to co-found Fremont Brewing — launching a startup, building a successful business and creating jobs. The brewery has been an industry leader in sustainable, environmentally-responsible business practices.

This gives her perspective the City Council needs as it works to create new opportunities for workers and entrepreneurs and support iconic local companies.

On the Seattle City Council, she would also bring a refreshing focus on fiscal responsibility and ensure that Seattle is wisely spending its $5.6 billion annual budget.

This perspective is badly needed in addressing Seattle’s response to its homeless crisis. City consultants have said the city has poorly managed the broad web of vendors delivering its homelessness services and makes spending decisions based on political connections, not cost-benefit analysis. Nelson, displaying her experience and pragmatism, suggests the council require a fiscal note explaining the costs of policy proposals before they are voted upon.

The City Council could also use Nelson’s business-savvy oversight on projects such as the central-waterfront reconstruction and the proposed new North Precinct police facility.

Like pretty much every Seattle candidate on the ballot, Nelson said mass transit should be expanded as fast as possible, and the city should find creative ways to respond to the affordable housing challenge.

And like others, Nelson favors dense urban growth, particularly as a way to prevent sprawl into rural areas. But unlike other candidates, Nelson is willing to listen to neighborhoods concerned about the pace and consequences of growth. She is the only candidate to raise Seattle’s tree canopy, endangered by rapid development.

Finding the right balance — between growth and livability — in Seattle’s historic boom times requires an open mind and leaders who aren’t beholden to ideologically-driven advocacy groups. Nelson nicely fits the bill.

Nelson would be a worthy replacement for retiring council member Tim Burgess, who has provided a much needed voice of moderation.

Nelson is a smart, experienced and pragmatic progressive aligned with the city’s values, and her business and legislative experience will improve the effectiveness of the City Council.