The appointment, which will run through Nov. 28, means a self-described community builder, who rallied with other activists at City Hall against an expensive new North Precinct police station and a new King County youth jail, will have a role in shaping the 2018 city budget.
The Seattle City Council appointed Kirsten Harris-Talley on Friday to temporarily fill the council’s Position 8 seat, which Tim Burgess left last month to become mayor.
Harris-Talley, a program director at Progress Alliance of Washington, will serve on the council until Nov. 28, when the results of the Nov. 7 election will be certified and the Position 8 winner — Teresa Mosqueda or Jon Grant — will take office.
The appointment means a self-described community builder, who rallied with other activists at City Hall last year against an expensive new North Precinct police station and a new King County youth jail, will have a role in shaping the 2018 city budget.
One flashpoint during budget talks could be a push from some in City Hall to change the way Seattle contracts with organizations that provide homeless services.
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“I’m overwhelmed, I’m excited and most of all ready to get to work,” the 38-year-old Rainier Valley resident said after being sworn in Friday, identifying reproductive justice and police accountability as top priorities as the council begins budget deliberations.
With the appointment requiring votes from five council members, Harris-Talley earned support from Council President Bruce Harrell and Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, M. Lorena González, Mike O’Brien and Kshama Sawant, who praised her professional and community-organizing experience.
Harrell described her as an outspoken advocate for racial equity, while González said the council should recognize the “often undervalued skills” of women leaders and said she was proud to vote for a fellow woman of color.
Sawant warned Harris-Talley there would be pressure from the city’s political establishment to sell out her activist background, urging her to “stay true to supporting the interests of regular people.”
Councilmembers Debora Juarez and Rob Johnson voted for Abel Pacheco, who ran unsuccessfully in 2015 for the seat Johnson ultimately won and who works in the University of Washington’s Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity.
Councilmember Lisa Herbold voted for former Councilmember Nick Licata. Herbold served as an aide to Licata for many years.
Friday’s was the second major appointment in recent weeks. The council last month selected Burgess to serve a short stint as mayor after Ed Murray resigned.
Like Harris-Talley, Burgess will leave office Nov. 28, when election results will be certified and Jenny Durkan or Cary Moon will become mayor.
Burgess didn’t seek re-election to the council this year.