The Seattle City Council will give more thought to a change that would allow council members to take part in legislative decisions in which they have a financial interest. A vote had been scheduled for Monday.
The Seattle City Council will take more time to consider a measure that would allow council members to take part in legislative matters in which they have a personal financial interest.
But in light of concerns raised by Councilmember Tim Burgess, Council President Bruce Harrell is sending the measure back to the committee for further discussion, he said Monday morning.
Under Seattle’s ethics code, council members are required to recuse themselves from legislative matters in which they have a financial interest.
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But if the proposed change were adopted, they would need only to publicly disclose their conflict.
Proponents have said the measure is needed because seven of the council’s nine members represent geographic districts.
The argument is that disqualifying council members over their financial interests could have the effect of denying their constituents an equal voice.
For example, if Councilmember Sally Bagshaw had to recuse herself from a legislative matter related to downtown Seattle because of a personal conflict, her constituents would have no District 7 representation in the matter.
The council does have two members who represent the entire city, and Burgess has criticized the proposed change, saying it would lower the city’s ethical standards.
There’s already an exception to the recusal requirement: When a council member shares a conflict of interest with a substantial segment of the city’s population, he or she doesn’t need to be disqualified.
Burgess has suggested that the exception could be extended to include council members sharing a conflict with a substantial segment of their district’s population.
Monday’s planned full-council vote had been postponed from June 6.