Abel Pacheco Jr., Seattles newest city council member, being sworn in Monday afternoon.
Abel Pacheco Jr., Seattle's newest city council member, being sworn in Monday afternoon. Lester Black

The Seattle City Council voted Monday afternoon to confirm community activist Abel Pacheco Jr. to the Seattle City Council, making him Seattle's newest council member. Pacheco is filling a seat left empty by former Councilmember Rob Johnson.

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Pacheco, slowly speaking as he held back tears, told the council following his confirmation that he wanted to thank his parents. "It is through their love that has inspired everything that they have done," Pacheco said.

Council President Bruce Harrell told the council Monday before the vote that whichever is selected, they are expected to be a “caretaker” of the council seat and agree not to run for reelection this November. Pacheco is currently a candidate for office in District 4 but he said following his vote that he would no longer seek election.

Pacheco told reporters following his confirmation that he would “tentatively” support bringing taller buildings to the Ave in the University District, one of the more contentious issues for the Northeast Seattle district.

11 candidates applied and were eligible to take the position and four names were nominated by the City Council on Monday: David A. Goldberg, Sherae Lascelles, Abel Pacheco, Jr., and Brooke Brod. After those four names were nominated the council then started voting in rounds, with the first candidate receiving five total votes taking the prize of being Seattle’s next council member.

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Abel Pacheco was one vote away from securing the seat in the first round, receiving votes from Lisa Herbold, Deborah Juarez, Teresa Mosqueda, and Harrell. But he lost Herbold’s support in round two and then lost Harrell’s support in round three. But in the fourth round, Pacheco regained his momentum, getting the support from Sally Bagshaw and regaining votes from Herbold and Harrell.

Lorena Gonzalez and Lisa Herbold congratulating Pacheco Monday.
Lorena Gonzalez and Lisa Herbold congratulating Pacheco Monday. Lester Black

Pacheco’s term will last until a new District 4 candidate wins this year’s November City Council elections. He will have a chance to be far more than a placeholder for the next seven months. Not only will he be a full voting member of the city’s lawmaking body, Pacheco will also have influence over the city’s 2020 budget, giving him power that will last longer than his term on the council. This was the case the last time the council appointed a replacement member when they selected Kirsten Harris-Talley to fill a vacant spot on the council in 2017. Harris-Talley went on to propose the council’s ill-fated head tax, which the council passed but ultimately rescinded after Amazon and other big businesses attacked the modest tax to fund homelessness.

Pacheco works for a STEM tutoring program and unsuccessfully ran for City Council in 2015. This is his second time running for an interim position on the board after he unsuccessfully ran for the Tim Burgess’s old seat in 2017. Burgess left his seat to become mayor after former Mayor Ed Murray resigned following a series of sexual assault allegations against him.

Johnson quit the council this month to take a job with Seattle’s new professional hockey team. The new NHL team will play at the city-owned KeyArena stadium after Johnson and the rest of the council negotiated a deal worth over a billion dollars with the team’s ownership.