The data provide a glimpse into how voters throughout the city live and work – vital information for the dozens of candidates campaigning for nine council seats in this new system. Two members still will be elected citywide.
What would happen if you divvied up Seattle’s electorate into seven, equally populated parts?
We’re about to find out.
In 2013, voters approved a district-based City Council system, which carves Seattle into seven new geopolitical entities. The boundaries, which were drawn by demographer and University of Washington professor emeritus Richard Morrill, are based on the natural geography of the city, and a simple headcount — each district contained about 87,000 people at the time the map was drawn (but closer to 90,000 today).
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It isn’t surprising that, demographically, the districts create some rather unlikely pairings. Downtown apartment dwellers will rub shoulders with the gentry of Magnolia at future District 7 meetings. And in District 4, ramen-eating kids from the University District could learn about the issues facing their well-heeled neighbors from Laurelhurst.
How this will all play out politically remains to be seen, but for all you armchair political analysts, we’ve created a new tool that lets you explore demographic data in our seven City Council districts. The tool allows you to compare the districts on a color-coded map, or to zoom in on any individual district for more detailed demographic data.
What kind of things can you glean from the tool?
A lot of the data won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s lived in Seattle for more than a couple weeks. Sure, District 6 (Ballard, etc.) is really white and District 2 (Rainier Valley) isn’t. And District 3 (Capitol Hill) residents are the heaviest users of public transit, just like you’d expect. But did you know that District 1 (West Seattle) has the most divorced residents in the city, or that District 5 (Northgate, etc.) is Seattle’s carpooling capital?
A couple notes on the tool: The data I used are 2014 estimates from Nielsen. I created the seven district geographies by aggregating census block groups.