On the night that Andrew Lewis, an assistant city attorney, won the primary, he took the mic and shouted a message of triumph to the crowd: "We need a change," he said. "This isn't a retirement job. This is a job for a new generation of leadership." Lewis was running against Jim Pugel, a 60-year-old retired cop, for the District 7 city council seat, which covers downtown and Queen Anne.
The initial ballot drop on election night showed Lewis trailing Pugel. But by Friday, after late voters' ballots had been counted, Lewis had left Pugel in the dust. At 29 years old, Lewis has become the youngest elected council member in Seattle history, a title previously held by Heidi Wills, who was 31 when she was elected in 1999. Abel Pacheco, the currently serving interim District 4 council member, is also 31 years old.
Even though, according to city archivist Anne Frantilla, "there is not one place that I know of where the birth dates of council members are listed," The Stranger has obtained the ages of the other council members. It's looking like this will be the youngest city council maybe ever. But, again, can we really know that without birth-date records? Maybe not.
Currently, the average age of the city council is 51. After the new members take office, the average age will go down to 44. Soon, there will be only one baby boomer (people born from 1946 to 1964) on the council. That's 60-year-old Debora Juarez. So if you're going to make "OK, boomer" jokes at anyone on the council, it better be Juarez.
Despite there being 170,000 people age 55 and older in the greater Seattle area, according to the Seattle Times, their representation is faltering. Gen Xers will make up the majority of the council. And millennials like Lewis are finally breaking into the political fray—along with his new city council colleague Dan Strauss, age 33.
What does this mean? Will more politicians be down to text instead of call? Will office hours be conducted via live video on Tik Tok? Will the water feature in City Hall start running red for socialism?
But seriously, Lewis and Strauss are actually more moderate than some of their older colleagues. Lewis has made it abundantly clear that he is by no means a socialist. He told this to Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat, where the headline of the article was literally "I am not a socialist."
Lewis self-identifies as a "labor Democrat" and is stalwartly opposed to a tax on Amazon, à la the head tax. Strauss remains a "maybe" on that one.
They may be youngbloods, but their election has given progressives across the city pause. Will Lewis and Strauss join District 4's Alex Pedersen to form a more moderate voting bloc? All three have already stated that they are opposed to Kshama Sawant's rent-control bid.
There's still a lot we don't know. But aside from Pacheco filling in this year, there hasn't been any millennial representation on the council. Lewis is a renter, and because he is a millennial (and also because of law school, life, and this city being expensive) he is worth, according to the financial forms he submitted to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, a whopping $5,000. Too much avocado toast, eh, Andrew?