Today at 2 pm, the Seattle City Council will vote on who gets a temporary spot on the dais to fill Tim Burgess's old seat. Burgess is currently serving as interim mayor after the resignation of Ed Murray in the wake of sexual abuse allegations. A new mayor and a new council member will be sworn in on November 28, when election results are certified. Until then, the council needs someone to keep the seat warm and help craft the 2018 budget.
Sixteen people applied and there were a couple clear frontrunners: Nick Licata (served on the council for 17 years) and Kirsten Harris-Talley (Block the Bunker/No New Youth Jail organizer, program director at the Progress Alliance). In two public forums this week, Licata and Harris-Talley offered the most detailed answers.
Harris-Talley has backing from the Seattle Peoples Party, the newly formed party that ran Nikkita Oliver for mayor this year. Today, the Peoples Party encouraged its supporters to contact the council with a form email. That email calls Harris-Talley a "stand out candidate with extensive relevant experience in the budgeting processes of government and non-profits." She also won the straw poll at a Tuesday forum hosted by the Peoples Party, Transit Riders Union, and others. Support from those groups means she could get the vote of more left-leaning council members like Kshama Sawant and Mike O'Brien. UPDATE: Council Member Lorena González says she'll vote for Harris-Talley.
Licata, meanwhile, has literally run the council's budgeting process before. He'll likely have support from his former aide, Lisa Herbold. And he seems an easy enough choice for council members like Rob Johnson who've emphasized the need for someone who can "hit the ground running."
But the council's centrists may not like either of these choices. Members like Sally Bagshaw and Debora Juarez have clashed publicly with Block the Bunker/No New Youth Jail activists. Licata was a member of the council's lefty populist block (along with Sawant and O'Brien) and supported taxes on business when he was on the council. That could leave them looking for someone else, like Abel Pacheco.
Pacheco unsuccessfully ran for council in 2015. He previously worked for the Seattle Police Foundation, whose mission is to raise "support and awareness for the Seattle Police Department." However, at a council hearing Wednesday, he recounted being wrongfully arrested after calling for assistance from police and pledged to work toward police accountability if appointed. Pacheco now works for a tutoring program at the University of Washington that encourages people traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields to pursue those fields.