Sally Clark, who has been on the Seattle City Council since 2006, joins Nick Licata and Tom Rasmussen in announcing they won’t run again, setting up a shake-up in Seattle politics.
Sally Clark, a member of the Seattle City Council for nearly a decade and its former president, won’t seek re-election this year, she said Wednesday.
Clark is the third council member in less than a month to opt against a 2015 run. Nick Licata bowed out on Jan. 21 and Tom Rasmussen followed on Jan. 23.
Tapped by the council in January 2006 to replace Councilmember Jim Compton, who had resigned, and first elected later that year, Clark has frustrated some constituents with her cautious approach to legislating. But she’s earned the admiration of others by working hard on wonky issues behind the scenes of city government.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who first met Clark when both were activists working in the LGBT community, in a statement Wednesday called the council member “the best kind of policymaker, a leader who will dig deep into issues to bring clarity to the opaque.”
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Like Licata and Rasmussen, Clark — who formerly worked as a council aide and who once directed community resources at Seattle’s Lifelong AIDS Alliance — will finish out the year.
But her announcement will shake up Seattle’s political landscape. Until Wednesday morning, Clark was campaigning for Council Position 9 — in one of two races that will be decided by voters citywide. The council’s seven other seats are moving in 2015 to election by geographic district.
Each of the council’s current members, other than Licata, Rasmussen and Clark, are running for re-election. But Clark’s choice means that three races have no sitting council members in the mix.
Just an hour and a half after Clark dropped out, Murray’s legal counsel, M. Lorena González, declared her candidacy for Position 9, joining three other candidates: Bill Bradburd, Terry Hofman and David Ishii.
And Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who said last month he would campaign in the 6th District, which includes the Fremont neighborhood where he lives, found himself rethinking his choice.
“Councilmember O’Brien is talking with supporters and his family about running citywide after the unexpected resignation of Councilmember Sally Clark,” said John Wyble, an O’Brien campaign consultant.
Council President Tim Burgess is campaigning for Position 8, the other citywide seat.
When Licata, who lives in the 6th District, said he wouldn’t seek re-election, he noted that he didn’t want to run against O’Brien, nor against Burgess or Clark. Licata didn’t immediately return a phone call Wednesday afternoon.
The seven district seats will carry four four-year terms. The two citywide seats will carry two-year terms initially, then move to four-year terms starting with the 2017 election.
Funds wouldn’t have been a problem for Clark, whose campaign is shutting down with more than $31,000 in cash on hand.
Like Licata and Rasmussen, she went along with the plan to replace downtown Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep-bore tunnel. But Clark didn’t mention that project’s well-publicized troubles in explaining herself Wednesday.
She said her mind changed when she realized she was thinking more about “what happens after the next two-year term” than she was thinking about the term itself.
“The campaign is going fine,” Clark said. “But how valuable can I be if I’m not 100 percent into it?”
The 48-year-old said she doesn’t yet have a new job lined up.
In a statement, Clark said she’s proud that she helped to launch a banking program for low-income households as an alternative to payday lenders and check-cashing shops, and that she worked to require paid sick leave and higher wages for workers.
“I’ve been honored to work with amazing, creative, passionate advocates across many disciplines and many neighborhoods in Seattle,” she said, adding: “We’ve done that by widening and deepening opportunities for prosperity, broadening involvement in decision-making and making city government work smarter.”
Information in this article, originally published Feb. 18, 2015, was corrected Feb. 19. 2015. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark once directed Seattle’s Lifelong AIDS Alliance. In fact, she directed community resources at the organization.