EDITORIAL | Clark leaves council, city in a fix

Just as the Seattle City Council is making heavy decisions about developer fees, affordable housing and renters’ rights, among other issues, Councilmember Sally Clark announced her resignation, effective Sunday, April 12. She will become the University of Washington’s (UW) director of regional and community relations in May, a position she was initially supposed to take at the end of the year, when her term expires.

UW wants to use Clark’s experience working with neighborhoods, governments and civic groups to publicize its community contributions, says Seattle P-I’s Joel Connelly. Clark has worked in city government since 1997, as a City Council office staff member and in the Department of Neighborhoods, before being appointed to the council in 2006. She has worked heavily on issues relating to housing and economic development.

The City Council hopes to fill Clark’s position with someone who won’t seek election this fall but has the experience to “hit the ground running” and help the council make some significant decisions related to housing (the council committee Clark chairs) before then, Councilmember Tim Burgess told the Seattle Weekly. A quick process — that sounds akin to a high school student-body election — will find Clark’s replacement before April 27.

With such a short timeframe, the council is unlikely to fill Clark’s seat with someone comparable. The “caretaker” Burgess seeks is expected to step in for just a few months yet immediately shape city policy, which doesn’t bode well for the council’s constituents.

Based on Clark’s accelerated schedule to depart the council, UW’s public relations “crisis” must be worse than anyone realized — perhaps it has something to do with the controversial University District Business Improvement Area? Seattle’s crises of transportation, development, homelessness, wage inequality and race relations will just need to wait.