How Redistricting Would Change Seattle's Political Landscape

Oct 21, 2013

What We Have Now

Seattle has nine at-large city council positions. The council members are responsible to all 600,000+ city residents.

Pros: Council members try to solve problems in ways that benefit all taxpayers. Supporters say it's a more holistic approach that lays a strong foundation for future growth.

Cons: Voters say they don’t have a voice and don’t know who to go to when they have a problem in their neighborhood.

How Things Would Change If Amendment Passes

If approved by Seattle voters, Charter Amendment 19 would create a system in which seven city council members would each represent a district. Council members would be elected by the voters in their own district.

Two council seats would remain citywide at-large positions. This new system would be phased in starting in 2015.

Pros: Voters would know which city council person represents their district, and each council person would have an office in his or her district. 

The system could encourage younger candidates to enter races because they would only need to win in that area—about 80,000 votes—instead of in a citywide race.

Cons: Critics are concerned district seats might lead to a system of “favors” that are specific to neighborhoods rather than governing in a way that’s best for the city as a whole. Think “pork projects” that get tucked into congressional bills.