The Seattle City Council
, the 9-member legislative body of Seattle, Washington
, consists of nine members elected at large. Each member's term is four years, and there are no limits on the number of terms a member may serve.
Election of city council members occur on odd-numbered years, with either 4 or 5 council members up for election based on position number. The 4 even-numbered positions are up for election November 8, 2009. The 5 odd-numbered positions are up for election November 6, 2011. All council members' terms begin January 1.
Based on the results of the November 2007 elections, the makeup of the council after January 1, 2008 will be:
The council positions are officially non-partisan, and the ballot gives no party designations. However, all current council members are avowed Democrats.
The Seattle City Council picks amongst its peers a council president to serve a 2-year term, beginning January 1
of the year following an election. The function of the council president is to serve as the official head of the city's legislative department. In addition, he/she is tasked with:
- Establishing of committees and appointment of committee chairs and members.
- Presiding over meetings of the full council.
- Assuming the duties and responsibilities of Mayor if the Mayor is absent or incapacitated.
The Seattle City Council has taken several forms over the years. During the years of the Washington Territory
, Seattle was incorporated by the Territorial Legislature as a town from January 14
until January 18
when the legislation was repealed based on a citizens' petition. During this time, Seattle was governed by a Board of Trustees. Seattle was re-incorporated as a city on December 2
. Its original unicameral
legislature, known as the Common Council, was elected at large. At large election was replaced in 1884 by a system of 14 wards
and four members elected at large. The First Home Rule Charter replaced this in 1890 with a bicameral
legislature consisting of a house of delegates and a board of aldermen. In 1896, a new charter returned the city to a unicameral City Council.
The present council structure of nine at-large members dates from 1911. That year, the size of the council was halved to 9 members, and all seats came again to be elected at large; this arrangement survives nearly a century later. Until 1946, all council terms were 2 years; from 1946, terms have been 4 years, with alternating groups of five and four elected every two years.
- Charlie Chong, council member 1995–1997, West Seattle populist
- Arthur A. Denny, council member 1877–1879, leader of the Seattle pioneers known as the Denny Party
- Bailey Gatzert, council member 1872–1873 and 1877–1878, in between was elected the city's first (and, as of 2008, only) Jewish mayor
- Hiram Gill, council member 1898–1902, 1904–1910, then mayor. Famous as an "Open Town" advocate, he later allied with "Closed Town" reformers.
- Bertha Knight Landes, council member 1922–1926, then elected the city's first (and, as of 2008, only) female mayor
- David Levine (Seattle), council member 1931–1962
- Wing Luke, council member 1962–1965, first Asian American elected official in Washington State
- John Miller, council member 1972–1979, later a Republican congressman
- Norm Rice, council member 1978–1989, then elected the city's first (and, as of 2008, only) African American mayor
- Peter Steinbrueck, council member 1997–2007, architect
- Henry Yesler, council member 1884–1885, Seattle pioneer, sawmill-owner, and twice mayor