Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw’s second-floor office in city hall is filled with boxes of documents that will be inherited by her District 7 successor. Her legislative aide — and District 6 Councilmember-elect — Dan Strauss has already claimed a large desk for his future workspace.

Queen Anne News sat down with the three-term city councilmember to talk about her decade on the council, her plans for the future and predictions for what a new council will move forward in 2020.

Bagshaw worked for the King County Prosecutor’s Office from 1994 to 2007, spending the last eight years as chief civil deputy prosecutor, and was first elected to the Seattle City Council in 2009. She said she’s used that legal lens while on the council.

“It’s been very valuable to have that, both in terms of being able to read ordinances or to dive in deeply when something like Judge Robart and police accountability became an issue,” Bagshaw said. “It’s been very helpful to have that law degree in the background, but at the same time this job is very different from being a King County prosecuting attorney.”

Bagshaw was re-elected to the city council in 2013. The city council divided seven seats geographically in 2015, and Bagshaw took nearly 81 percent of the vote in her District 7, which includes Queen Anne, Magnolia, Interbay, Uptown, Belltown, Downtown, First Hill and Pioneer Square.

Looking back on the change, Bagshaw said she sees pros and cons of having district council seats.

“The good thing is that people have got elected that wouldn’t have had a chance region-wide. That representation is very important,” Bagshaw said. “I also think there’s been some — it’s devolved sometimes into an us-versus-them, which I really wanted to avoid.”

Having her first two elections be determined by voters across the city meant hearing a lot of different perspectives, she said, and understanding issues affecting neighborhoods around Seattle.

“I think the elections bring out the ‘What’s in it for me and my neighborhood?' not 'How can we work together as a city to solve our problems?’” Bagshaw said.

She praised District 5 Councilmember Debora Juarez as a great advocate for her constituents living in Seattle’s north end.

All District 7 candidates in the primary and general election made campaign promises to replace the aging Magnolia Bridge, which is something Bagshaw had said she would focus on during her last year on the council.

There is only $10 million in Seattle’s 2020-25 capital improvement program for the project, which could cost upward of $420 million for an in-kind replacement.

“I don’t think it’s a promise that they can keep,” said Bagshaw, who has a folder of her conversations with Magnolia residents going back to 2015. “There is no possible way that, under the current budget, that a $400 million bridge can be paid for by the City of Seattle.”

It would be great to receive state support, Bagshaw said, but neither the state nor city has ranked the Magnolia Bridge’s replacement as a high priority in the past.

“Now, if we had a massive earthquake and that bridge came down, then FEMA money would step in but, short of that, federal money is not something that we can count on, and so that means we’re going to have to go back to another levy and ask people citywide if they would approve replacing that.”

District 7 candidates did acknowledge that replacing the bridge would require a regional partnership of stakeholders.

The issues facing Seattle, and how candidates for seven district seats would address them, were often overshadowed by the level of independent expenditures and investments made by large corporations into political action committees, particularly a $1 million investment by Amazon in mid-October.

Bagshaw raised $227,000 during her first city council race in 2009 — more than any other candidate that year — and received $9,600 in independent expenditure support from the Secure Seattle group in the form of mailers. Her next election campaign in 2013 raised less than $100,000, and she received no independent expenditures. Bagshaw raised a little more than $120,000 in 2015 — the first district race — and received no independent expenditures.

She said she likes the idea of Democracy Vouchers, where voters receive $100 in vouchers to give to participating candidates for their campaigns. While the program has contribution limits, candidates this election cycle received a strong amount of support through independent expenditures, particularly by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy PAC.

CASE actually spent $33,000 against Strauss’ District 6 campaign while the Civic Alliance for a Progressive Economy, formed by Working Washington and other union groups, spent $76,000 to support him in that mid-October timeframe. Bagshaw said she’d seen her legislative aide out working to qualify for the Democracy Voucher program, and then to get the vouchers needed to run his campaign.

“Then, at the last minute, to have that much money dumped on him three weeks before the election, it struck me as completely antithetical to what we are trying to accomplish,” Bagshaw said.

City Councilmember Lorena González is now proposing campaign finance reform legislation that would, among other things, limit qualified donors to giving no more than $5,000 to a PAC to spend for or against a candidate for city office.

Bagshaw chaired the budget committee for a second year, working with fellow councilmembers to pass a record $6.5 billion 2020 budget, up from $5.9 billion in 2019.

“Last year, I was new to it. I didn’t feel I had the handle on it last year that I did this year,” Bagshaw said, “so I got started on this seriously in January of this year, so I’ve been really building toward the success we had during this last budget, in part knowing what my colleagues wanted.”

The District 7 councilmember said the priorities were virtually the same between the council and Mayor Jenny Durkan, but it was important to address individual requests that let each councilmember feel good about putting their stamp on it. The budget passed 8-1. District 3 Councilmember Kshama Sawant has not approved a city budget since starting on the council.

The budget includes $100 million for homeless services, which is the largest investment since a state of emergency was declared in Seattle back in November 2015. It includes funding to support mobile rest stops and the creation of more tiny house villages, which have been shown to be more successful than traditional shelter models in transitioning people into permanent housing.

“Siting tiny homes is hard. Neighbors are concerned, and there are reasons,” Bagshaw said. “They love to have their quiet, protected, safe neighborhoods, but what we’ve been saying is that, ‘When all people are a little better off, we’re all better off.’”

Bagshaw said whether that $100 million investment goes any higher in the years to come will depend largely on how things shape up with plans to merge Seattle and King County’s homeless services under a joint authority.

“That’s going to be different in no small part because we’re really including people with lived experiences,” Bagshaw said of creating a regional action plan. “That’s, I think, the biggest difference that we’re going to see is being very inclusive of people whose life experiences are different than those of us who have been blessed to have houses and college educations.”

The details are still being worked out, but the plan would be for Seattle to spend $75 million annually and King County would put $57 million into the authority, which King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles now proposes should be shaped as a governmental agency rather than a public development authority. An interlocal agreement continues to be fleshed out.

Bagshaw said she fully expects the chamber’s failed spending campaign to put pro-business candidates on the council, which only resulted in one win in the general election, to result in another push in 2020 to bring back an employee-hours tax or head tax.

The District 7 councilmember had negotiated a proposal for a head tax on companies reporting more than $20 million in gross receipts, reducing the original figure of $500 per employee to $275 per employee, which would have generated about $47 million annually. The council passed the head tax with a unanimous vote in May 2018, but then repealed it by a 7-2 vote when Amazon and other large corporations backed the chamber’s campaign to kill the tax with a referendum.

“We negotiated with Amazon, we had a handshake,” Bagshaw said of the original head tax, “but there is no question it’s coming back. I met with my colleagues at Amazon recently, and just said, ‘I hope you guys can get ahead of this this time,’ that business and labor can come together and look at what’s the problem we’re trying to solve.”

The money the head tax would have generated would not have covered all of the funding the city needs to address the affordable housing and homelessness crisis, Bagshaw said, adding the $500 per employee tax proposed before would have pushed businesses out of Seattle. She said a funding package is likely what is needed, and a head tax could be part of that, but she’d also like to see an unearned income tax on interest, dividends and capital gains.

Even after the head tax was repealed, Amazon ditched plans to add office space in Seattle’s Rainier Square tower and is now planning on expanding its footprint in Bellevue with a 43-foot tower downtown. Amazon is now also leasing more office space in Macy’s landmark downtown building, having taken the top six floors back in 2017.

Bagshaw said she sees the new city council “marching in early” to put a new head tax on the table in 2020.

Assistant City Attorney Andrew Lewis will be sworn in as District 7’s new city councilmember in January, and will be one of five freshman on the council.

Bagshaw said her advice is that “relationships are everything,” and it’s important to maintain one’s integrity. If you commit to something and later change your mind, she said, you have to provide facts to back up that decision.

The District 7 councilmember points to the facts surrounding a desire for replacing the Magnolia Bridge, and why a local improvement district might be required to reach the required funding, even though Magnolia residents played a big part in funding the existing bridge.

Bagshaw was a member of the Allied Arts of Seattle group that pushed for the removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and a Waterfront for All plan. That $712 million Waterfront for All project is now going to be paid for, in part, with a Waterfront LID. A typical condo owner in the local improvement district is expected to pay a $1,900 median one-time assessment, or $95 per year for 20 years, plus interest. Bagshaw lives a block from the waterfront and is inside the LID. Those major improvements are not set to start until 2021, which means Bagshaw might not miss much construction while she’s away.

Bagshaw is leaving Seattle in January to attend Harvard University under a one-year Advanced Leadership Initiative fellowship.

“The goal is to get people like me, at the north end of their career here, to be able to say, ‘Well what’s next?’” Bagshaw said. “These are people like me who don’t want to just hang it up and go play golf, or bridge, and retire. So, a little of that, and then more social-impact projects.”

Bagshaw has a pilots license, but will be taking a commercial flight to Massachusetts with her husband, Brad.

She expects her son and his family, plus friends living in Madrona, will take turns making use of her downtown condo while she’s away. She said she has no plans to rent it out, having had a bad experience when she and her husband took a sabbatical in 2008 to sail the South Pacific.

“We rented it out and that didn’t turn out as well as one would hope,” she said.

Bagshaw’s 10 years on the Seattle City Council will end with some passion projects not yet completed, but she’s hopeful they will be realized soon. That includes redeveloping Fort Lawton in Magnolia to include affordable housing, as well as fulfilling a promise by the City of Seattle to build Smith Cove Park after King County installed its combined-sewer overflow system.

“I put more money into Smith Cove than I can even muster, and it has taken so long to fix,” she said.

The District 7 councilmember also spent this past summer working with stakeholder groups on a revisedgreenway concept for Thomas Street between South Lake Union and Seattle Center.