After months of deliberation, local civil-rights leader Larry Gossett has decided to seek re-election for a seventh term to the Metropolitan King County Council.

“I’m definitely running. I had hoped that I would be able to be supportive of another person who would carry on what would be a very important legacy of being a very strong consistent champion of the working class, and poor people of inner-city communities of Seattle,” Gossett said Tuesday.

But he says that person failed to materialize.

Gossett, who recently turned 74, will face at least one declared challenger.

Lawyer and education advocate Girmay Zahilay announced his run for Gossett’s District 2 council seat late last month.

“All of us in Seattle stand on the shoulder of giants like Councilmember Gossett and are truly thankful for his over 25 years of service on the council. We also believe it’s time to pass the baton to the next generation of leadership in King County,” Zahilay said in a statement released through a spokesman.

It will be the first time in 14 years that Gossett will face a challenger, and the first time in more than two decades that he’ll run against someone who also  aligns with the Democratic Party.


Gossett’s opponent also has a head start on fundraising. A campaign filing with the Public Disclosure Commission shows that Zahilay, 31, has raised more than $50,000 in less than a month of campaigning.

First elected in 1993, Gossett has been a mainstay on the council for more than half of its existence. He serves the Seattle neighborhoods of Capitol Hill, Central District and Rainier Valley as well as the unincorporated area of Skyway.

Gossett won his last election in 2015 with 98 percent of the vote.

There had been rumors that Gossett might step down, which Zahilay cited last month as a reason for running. In addition, Gossett has suffered health scares in recent years. In 2013, he suffered a stroke, and detailed its impact on his memory and attention span in an essay for Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action.

Gossett will formally announce his run at a community gathering on April 27.