Sally Bagshaw. Photo courtesy of Reelect Sally Bagshaw/Facebook
Sally Bagshaw. Photo courtesy of Reelect Sally Bagshaw/Facebook
1
2
3

Seattle voters passed a measure in 2013 to establish City Council districts, so that the council representatives could better serve the differing neighborhood priorities throughout the city. But that doesn’t mean there’s a one-size-fits-all approach for what the citizens of District 7 want from their City Council representative.

The remapped District 7 includes the varied demographics of downtown, Queen Anne, Magnolia, Uptown, Belltown, South Lake Union and Pioneer Square. There are three candidates for the seat: six-year Position 4 incumbent Sally Bagshaw, 64; Deborah Zech Artis, 62, a Boeing employee of more than 20 years; and Google software engineer Gus Hartmann, 39. Each hail from different neighborhoods — Bagshaw, from downtown; Hartmann, from Belltown; and Zech Artis, from Queen Anne — with different priorities and skillsets.

 

Reasons for running

Bagshaw, who won the 2009 and 2013 elections by wide margins, takes on two competitors with no governmental experience. The former King County prosecutor didn’t support the districting format change, saying there are no other major cities that have successfully divided into ward politics.

However, she said she believes the new format will allow candidates to focus more closely on individual issues in the districts, even if that means there will be challenges for the city to function as a regional body.

“We’ll make it good,” she said. “You’ve got to move on; the voters voted. I’ll do my darnedest to make sure it is as effective for everyone as possible.”

Zech Artis and Hartmann, on the other hand, decided to run precisely because of the formatting change.

Zech Artis said she wants to streamline city government and believes government employees should be more responsible to the citizens paying their salaries through taxes. She said the District 7 councilmember’s focus needs to be on more than just parks, putting emphasis on roads, transportation, affordable housing and homelessness.

“We just talk and don’t really do anything,” she said. “I’m a problem-solver. I see a problem and I figure out a way to get it fixed.”

Hartmann said someone like him competing against an incumbent in the old at-large system would be “insane” and decided to run hours before deadline, in part because he didn’t think an incumbent should run unopposed. He understands that his winning is “a pretty big hypothetical,” but he hopes to push some issues he wants in the discussion.

“I’m willing to put the time, money and energy to do this because, otherwise, questions don’t even get asked,” he said. “I think it’s worth the effort.”

 

Challenges

Considering there’s an expected 100,000 new people moving to Seattle within the next few decades, Bagshaw said her goal is to make sure the neighborhoods partner together to take their fair share of the growth. She advocates for a comprehensive transportation network that provides dedicated spaces for freight, cars, buses, pedestrians and bicycles.

Bagshaw is also pushing for passage of the Move Seattle campaign that will be on November’s ballot: “We can’t grow by 100,000 or more people and not come up with some good positive options,” she said.

Zech Artis said growth needs to be channeled through upzoning in certain areas and ensuring there are plans in place to bring the “right kinds of businesses” to town, such as grocery stores.

She said that the Mercer Street corridor project has made some streets more dangerous and believes the first task for fixing the transportation issues are modifying the stagnant bus routes.

Zech Artis said the increased car and pedestrian traffic that will likely come from Expedia’s move to Interbay brings up safety concerns. Overall, she called Seattle roads “horrible”: “The roads in the mountains are better than the ones we have in Seattle, and it’s embarrassing.”

Hartmann plans to focus on the Westlake Cycle Track, providing a path for a safe cycling route from downtown to connect with the Burke-Gilman Trail, while also adding more protective bike lanes. He wants to increase walkability and agrees with extending light rail to Ballard.

Hartmann said transplants in downtown, South Lake Union and Belltown don’t want to drive, and he wants to tackle “simple quality-of-life issues.” An example, he said, is retiming pedestrian signals at Sixth Avenue and Denny Way and not requiring developers to close sidewalks during construction.

“It’s small, it’s cheap, but it’s a little thing that’s an annoyance every day,” he said. “We are failing to be a walkable neighborhood, and that’s clearly what the new residents want.”

 

Neighborhood needs

Even though Zech Artis is a longtime Queen Anne resident, she said she will “absolutely not” prioritize the neighborhood on the council: “You cannot segregate yourself. When I’m in the office, I will be in [all of] those neighborhoods on a regular basis, having open-forum meetings…. I’m not just focusing on one place.”

With that said, she noted that Belltown has been “kind of taken care of,” while downtown, Magnolia and Uptown have been relatively ignored.

Zech Artis said Queen Anne is majorly impacted by the “Mercer mess” and that the “bike lanes are killing us.” She added that Queen Anne’s population boom is putting stress on the schools and public facilities. She said Magnolia’s major concern is getting in and out of the neighborhood in a timely matter, especially considering the impending need for an upgrade of the Magnolia Bridge.

Zech Artis plans to hold frequent community meetings around the district to gather input. She knows the neighborhoods have differing needs and plans to cater to each.

“Each geographic areas have unique needs and requirements,” she said. “It’s a matter of a lot of talking.”

Bagshaw believes congestion is one of the biggest issues facing Queen Anne and Magnolia, along with the ability of residents to drive in and out of the neighborhoods and, specifically in Queen Anne, find parking.

Bagshaw said the relationships she’s built within the City Council will be crucial to accomplishing neighborhood priorities: “Relationships in politics are everything. The good news is I’ve spent six years developing relationships. The goal is to be respectful to each and respect them, as well. I would ask for their support and would expect the same from them.”

Hartmann, a Belltown resident since 1998, said his focus would be on “the fastest-changing parts of the district” — specifically South Lake Union, downtown and Belltown — as opposed to Queen Anne and Magnolia: “Those (Queen Anne and Magnolia) are not the parts of town I’m most worried about. If there are things they need and the council would do them, I would strongly advocate for them.”

He said he didn’t yet know the biggest issues facing the two neighborhoods but that he didn’t believe it would be difficult to sway attention that way because they are more established, civically engaged areas.

On the other hand, the new arrivals in South Lake Union, Belltown and downtown, he said, don’t have a voice: “To pretend that South Lake Union and Belltown aren’t going to be developing is somewhere between naïve and misguided.”

Hartmann said he is a better representation than the other candidates of how the city’s demographics as a whole have changed over recent years. He said he is “well-placed” to work on developing the increasingly changing neighborhoods in Belltown, South Lake Union and downtown.

“Queen Anne and Magnolia are pretty happy with how they are,” he said. “I’m not proposing we bulldoze everyone on top of Queen Anne and put up towers. Queen Anne has a good sense of community. It has accomplished being that sense of neighborhood, and the newer, emerging ones don’t have that yet, and I’d like to be a part of that.”

To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.