Members of the Seattle City Council have always been vulnerable to a proverbial pie in the face, but in recent times they have had to contend with much worse; everything from poop thrown on the lawn to threats to their families. As a result, the job is not nearly as attractive as it once was.

That seems to be the big factor in the decisions of four council incumbents not to run for reelection this year. And a fifth, who still has almost three years to go on her term, has announced she is now running for a quieter seat on the Metropolitan King County Council.

Once upon a time, council members won their jobs, busied themselves with things like zoning, street repairs and business promotion, and stayed on at City Hall for years. That began to change as folks with a more activist style won council seats and pushed a robust agenda of progressive causes, from raising the minimum wage and taxing big businesses to chopping the police budget and addressing global climate issues.

This new style is part of the nationalization of local politics that has happened all over the country. Bitter polarization and rabid partisanship has come along with that shift. Local officials, from school boards to elections workers, have come under attack from culture warriors and QAnon conspiracists. Social media has empowered extremist political forces searching for targets of their ire. The left-leaning council in super-liberal Seattle has offered one of the ripest targets of all.

At least a couple of the novice candidates who have announced their intention to run for City Council positions appear to come from the activist ranks. The old-fashioned good government types who once ran the city have either disappeared or have found better things to do. Which suggests a seat on the Seattle City Council will continue to be a hot one.

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