|What we have now
We currently elect all nine Seattle City Councilmembers "at large". This means our Councilmembers, the legislative branch of our city's government, are not responsible to votes in any specific district. 47 of the top 50 US cities by population, along with our county, state, and federal governments, elect their legislative branch by districts. Seattle is only one of three that do elects our legislative branch in an "at large" fashion.
The Seattle Districts Now "7-2" proposal
We will still have nine Seattle City Councilmembers, but seven of them will be elected from geographic districts. The other two will be elected to "at large" positions. The seven Councilmembers elected by districts have to live in their districts. Click here to read the full text of the submitted Charter Amendment.
Charter Amendment 19 on the November ballot
The Seattle City Charter is like our city's constitution. The Charter must be amended to implement the 7-2 proposal. We gathered over 45,000 signatures from Seattle voters to put Charter Amendment 19 on the November of 2013 ballot.
The Initial Districts Are Established by Charter Amendment
The initial district boundaries for the 7 districts were created by Dr. Richard Morrill, Professor Emeritus of Geography at the University of Washington, following the rules set out in state and federal law. The boundaries follow neighborhood lines and geographic features as much as possible. 2010 Census data were used to balance population between the districts, just like in the recent redistricting at the state and federal level. No district differs in population from any other district by more than one percent.
A broadly representative commission may adjust district boundaries after each full Census (the next one is in 2020). This "redistricting" is similar to what happens at the state and federal level after each full Census. There will be only two elections of districted Councilmembers before there is a chance to adjust the map.
How the Transition Will Work
If voters approve our proposed Charter Amendment in the 2013 election, we will begin the transition to the 7-2 system at the next city election in 2015. In 2015, all nine Councilmembers will be up for a vote. The seven districted Councilmembers will be elected to 4-year terms. The two at-large Councilmembers will be elected to two-year terms. In 2017, the two at-large seats will be elected to four-year terms. This places the at-large Councilmembers on the same election cycle as the Mayor and City Attorney. The goal is to allow residents to vote on at least part of the Council at each city election.
The chart below shows the next few elections after the 7-2 system passes.
Other Provisions The Charter Amendment clarifies candidates must be residents of the city (and their district if running for a district position) from 120 days before filing all the way through their term. For a look at each district, its boundaries, and for your district, click here
|Seattle City Councilmembers are not currently elected by districts. This means your community has no specific Councilmember to represent your interests.
Seattle is the among the only cities in America over 500,000 population who does not elect Councilmembers by district.
The Seattle School Board, King County Council, our State Legislature, and the United States Congress all represent specific districts. Only the Seattle City Council does not.
Electing by district means your community will be specifically represented on our City Council.