Liberals vs. Liberals? Unions Accuse Districts Campaign of Disenfranchising People of Color


I don't know why the union position has to be a hollow one. Couldn't they just propose a different set of district lines without delaying the progress of this legislation?
I thought this was going to be another gun-control thread!
hey anna, why is mike mcginn blocking police reform with his highly visible 20/20 junk. ask c to ask meinert if he will allow slog to report on this stuff. im figuring tim keck is just some right-wing weirdo recluse by now, like howard hughes.…
I think UFCW has a point. I support the concept of district elections, always have. But there are legitimate flaws to this proposal and they could have the effect of actually making matters worse for people of color.

1) There are only 7 seats elected by district rather than all 9. That means districts are larger than they might otherwise be, which in turn means that the votes of people of color are reduced in strength. With 9 districts you might be able to get two majority-minority districts but with 7 districts, you only get one.

2) The map for the districts was drawn by a UW geography prof without any public input and apparently without taking minority communities or populations into account. That did not inspire confidence in these districts. Future districts would be drawn by a commission after each census, but I do not believe it has any provision for majority-minority concerns to be taken into account when those lines are drawn.

The backers of this proposal are a bunch of white NIMBYs who have never shown much concern for the needs of people of color, so that does not inspire confidence. At the same time, district elections usually winds up empowering progressives and not NIMBYs. But there are flaws with this proposal and those flaws could have been addressed had the backers been willing to have a more open and collaborative process. I'll probably still vote for it, but it's an unnecessarily flawed proposal.
Just what we need: pitting neighborhood against neighborhood in Seattle. Because our city endeveavors aren't fractured enough as-is.
There's only one "minority" on the city council now. What's different?

I'll vote for districts, but it won't make any difference. Paul Allen and the developers will simply buy all of them, and the next mayor just like all the other mayors. The only way to really make districts work is to have twice as many of them. And the salaries of council members should be cut to equal the city's median household income.

Instead of $125,000 they should be paid about $70,000. It would be enough to justify running for the job, but not enough to make it something to hold onto by selling out at every opportunity like they do now.
Indeed, the problem with majority-minority gerrymandering is that, yes, we get a reasonable assurance that a minority will be elected from that district, but the minority population of the other districts is less because we have gerrymandered minorities into a single district (or more than one, but in any case, limited). There are minority members of Congress in Texas who do a fine job of representing their constituents. The rest of the yahoos don't have to listen to the smaller number of minorities in their districts because they are a small minority. Districting has advantages, but if the districts are created to effectively segregate minorities, they lose.-
#5, so instead, we have downtown and well-connected people and interest groups run the city for us. I like districts a lot. The problem with this plan is "not enough districts." Plus we ought to cut their pay. The job is too attractive at $125,000 a year. A pay cut would allow for more council members for the same money, and would make the incumbents less likely to cling to the position at all costs.
I can't find clear confirmation of where the current members live, but it looks like it would be possible for the membership of the council to remain unchanged under this proposal:

District 1: Rasmussen lives in Alki.
District 2: Clark lives in Brighton; Harrell lives in Mt. Baker. One of the two would have to take an at-large position.
District 3: Conlin lived in Madrona ten years ago; does he still?
District 4: Godden lives in View Ridge, and Licata at one time (possibly still?) lives in Wallingford. One would have to take an at-large position.
District 5: I think Bagshaw lives in Lake Forest Park.
District 6: O'Brien lives in Fremont.
District 7: Burgess lives in Queen Anne.

So, I don't really see an argument that this would make the council less diverse, since it might not change it at all. As a reflection of the community, the current council has too many gay people (2/9 vs. 13% in the population), too many white people (8/9 vs. 2/3 in the population), and too many men (6/9).
districts are more progressive, whether the person elected is white, black, whatever, as you don't need as much MONEY to run. districts help open the doors to progrssives of all kinds while at large, what we have now, ensures anyone running needs $300K and spend time dialing for dollars, not doorbelling.

it's hard to see why going from all at large -- which means ZERO majoirty minority districts -- to 7-2 isn't a positive step. one, you get the majority minority district. one is more than zero! and two, all 7 ditricts swin open the door of opportunity to all kinds of progressives. surely a seattle that elected sherry harris and norm rice and richard mciver is doing to elect a minority person from districts outside SE Seattle or the two at large. Bruce Harrel is running for mayor at large he doesn't think he can't win.

oh by the way the 37th district democrats and 11th district democrats endorsed the seattle districts now proposal -- as did the 32d district democrats and 46th district democrats. that's two north of ship canal. and two south. seems pretty balanced.
The 7-2 proposal has one strongly majority minority district. It's flat-out false to imply this map was "created to concentrate minorities in one district". There is no legal way to create more than one minority majority district with a 7-2 system.

The only way to create more than one minority-majority district is to make all nine seats elected by district and do significant gerrymandering that cuts geographic and neighborhood boundaries badly.

If these groups mean what they say and are not merely worried about protecting their turf like TheStranger astutely points out, the group will bring their own 9-district proposal to the ballot in 2013 and we'll see which one wins (see also Austin, TX last year).

(Did I just use "asute" and "Stranger" in the same sentence? Wow.)
Joel: “Couldn't they just propose a different set of district lines without delaying the progress of this legislation?” Getting a charter amendment on the ballot takes a lot of effort. And time. It cannot just be changed with a new set of district lines without re-starting the signature gathering clock.

Junipero: Changing to all 9 districts has been tried repeatedly and lost at the polls. Discussion among numerous interests took place in the first half of 2012, and it was determined that a 7-2 proposal had a better chance of passing. Once you settle on 7 districts, the map basically draws itself. 7 districts cannot be drawn to increase “minority majority” districts; it was this reality that caused UFCW to ask SDN to return to an all 9 proposal. [Demographics: SDN’s district 2 is 67% POC, district 3 is 29%, district 5 is 27%, and district 1 is 26%. Seattle overall is 28%. --2010 Census data]

After some discussions UFCW and allies agree in principle that districts is better than no districts. No “organized opposition” to Seattle Districts Now is apparent, notwithstanding The Stranger’s attempt to gin one up with a leaked two week old email. It is unfortunate that this dirty laundry has been aired; SDN and UFCW have a great deal of overlapping interests and supporters in common—check out the list of endorsers at

“The backers of this proposal are a bunch of white NIMBYs who have never shown much concern for the needs of people of color.” This is simply not true, and not deserving of a response.

Cascadian: SDN’s map was drawn without any consideration of the residence of existing councilmembers. If Charter Amendment No. 19 passes, incumbents will have to decide in 2015 whether to run in the district where they live, for one of the two at large positions, or retire. More importantly, in future redistricting, the process explicitly prohibits “consider[ation of] the residence of any person.”

Study the proposal and learn how it is inherently democratic; it makes retail politics viable. SDN cannot solve all the problems with Seattle's government, but it sure moves in the right direction. Download the petition, get some signatures, and please vote yes on November 5.
Nice to see you finally figured out how districts will fuck over poor people and people of color. Once SE Seattle is safely tucked away by itself, the other 8 can completely ignore it. Does ANY recognizable person who is not white support this? Thought not.
Junipero, the insufferable "young, progressive, urbanist" twit, uses the N-word again.
@13: Because SE Seattle gets so much attention under the current system?
@13: You thought wrong.
The incumbents will stop at nothing to sink districting, including pulling strings with their clients, in this case the UFCW. That said, the current districts plan won't do much, but it's better than nothing.
Why don't the non-"Whites",the Leftists,and the Lower Class Seattlites file a class-or mass-action lawsuit in federal court?After all,at-large voting violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act.(The ACLU successfully sued in Wyoming,Texas,and California, and the NAACP did the same in Georgia ). ---- , ,
@18 - Many of the principals of Seattle Districts Now, including myself, support the Washington Voters Rights Act that would address the issue you raise. HB 1413,… ; passed the House 53-44, died in Senate. The bill reports are worth reading.

Even if HB 1413 passed, it would not likely be able to force change in Seattle City Council elections because it would be very difficult to show "polarized voting... impair[s] the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or to influence the outcome of an election." Demographics and recent voting history in Seattle don't support such a claim. If any reader thinks there is evidence to support such a claim, please post about it.