About 100 people have applied for a vacant Seattle City Council position, deluging City Hall with résumés in the hours before...

Share story

About 100 people have applied for a vacant Seattle City Council position, deluging City Hall with résumés in the hours before Friday’s deadline.


As of Thursday, just 28 people had applied. But all day Friday, the procrastinators rolled in, some waiting until minutes before the 5 p.m. cutoff — and in one case, three minutes past.


“I feel we have a strong field of candidates. I’m happy about that,” City Council President Jan Drago said after the late flood of applicants brought the field roughly equal to the number who applied the last time a council vacancy occurred in 1997.


The list to replace Jim Compton included no major surprises, but plenty of people were drawn to the rare shot at winning a council seat — at least temporarily — without running in an election.


While it is too early to pick a frontrunner, the lobbying has begun.


Local activist groups this week sent letters urging the council to appoint a racial minority. Some council members agreed diversity should be a consideration.


“We need another female, and it would help to have another person of color,” said Councilman David Della, who is Filipino American. (Councilman Richard McIver, who is African American, is the only other racial minority currently on the council.)


Choosing the next Seattle City Council member



Jim Compton’s resignation took effect Friday, giving the remaining eight council members 20 days to vote on a successor. If a majority can’t decide on a replacement within that time, the council must vote every business day until a majority does agree.

Whoever gets the job will serve most of this next year; the position will be up for election in November. The winner of that election will serve the remainder of Compton’s term, which runs through 2007.


In 2007, the position will be up for grabs again. The winner of that election will earn a full, four-year term.


The contenders include three former council members and several recent candidates, government insiders, neighborhood activists, a blogger, small-business owners and local Democratic Party stalwarts.


Some said they would only be interested in serving as a “caretaker” for the remainder of this year, leaving the seat open for an election this fall.


Those interested in that limited role included former council members Dolores Sibonga and Sue Donaldson, as well as Sam Sperry, a former Seattle Post-Intelligencer editor.


It is not yet clear whether the council will opt for the “caretaker” approach or pick someone who wants the job long-term.


Some of the contenders drawing early interest from council members are veterans of local government.


They included: Ven Knox, former director of the city’s Human Services Department; Ed Pottharst, a Department of Neighborhoods employee who ran for King County Council last year; David Hopkins, a transportation adviser to King County Executive Ron Sims; Javier Valdez, a Seattle City Light employee and Democratic activist; and Russ Brubaker, assistant director of the state Department of Revenue.


Others who drew initial approving nods from council members include Joann Francis, an attorney and former Sound Transit executive; Darryl Smith, president of the Rainier Chamber of Commerce, who ran for council in 2003; Stella Chao, director of the International District Housing Alliance; Sharon Maeda, president of a media consulting firm; and Sara Patton, an environmental activist.


Several recent unsuccessful council candidates also applied, including Robert Rosencrantz, Darlene Madenwald and Ángel Bolaños.


Former City Councilman John Manning also submitted his name, but Drago and other council members said he would be a long shot. Manning resigned from the council in 1996 after his second domestic-violence-related arrest.


Many local activists applied, including the Rev. Harriett Walden, a longtime activist and founder of Mothers For Police Accountability, and the Rev. David Bloom, a longtime advocate for homeless people. Tim Durkan, an aide to Mayor Greg Nickels and part of a politically connected family, also applied.


Liberal blogger David Goldstein also tossed his name in Friday, joking in his application letter that “as a woman of color I would add much needed diversity of experience and perspective to the Seattle City Council … that is, if I was a woman of color. Unfortunately, I’m just some middle aged Jewish guy…. “


Drago said the council will start deliberating next week on how to narrow the field. The council might select a group of finalists to be interviewed or allow all applicants a chance to make their case.


Whoever gets the seat may not hold it long.


The winner would have to run for election this fall to serve the remainder of Compton’s term, which ends in 2007. The winner of that election would have to run again in 2007 to get a full, four-year term.


Local political consultant John Wyble said he has advised council aspirants to consider a run for Compton’s seat in this fall’s election even if they fail to win the council appointment.


Wyble said he didn’t think the council’s pick would have a huge advantage when it comes to future elections.


“I don’t see this as a particularly strong set of candidates. None of these folks is going to scare anybody off,” he said.


Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or jbrunner@seattletimes.com