Copyright 2000 Park Projects. Please feel free to use the article and photos below in your research. Be sure to quote the Jet City Maven as your source.

Your city council - an insider's view


In some cities, councilmembers are elected by district. Then they each compete to try to make their own part of the city the best.

In Seattle, the mayor and councilmembers are elected "at large," from the whole city. That means each of your city councilmembers is responsible to serve the whole city.

The mayor's job is to establish the vision or goals for the city and to be the chief executive officer who makes government work. On City Council, our job is not so much the "vision" thing as making sure city life is safe, varied, and satisfying to citizens and visitors.

If government is working effectively, I believe you should hardly notice it. You just expect that clean water comes out of your tap, the lights come on when you flip the switch, traffic signs and stoplights keep drivers in line, and your kids can go play in the park.

As the new techno-wealth drives up the cost of Seattle living, each of your councilmembers is making special efforts to ensure that a lively urban experience is accessible to folks across all income levels.

I'm delighted that so many Seattle neighborhoods are having garden tours this year - not just tony places like Madison Park, but quirkier venues like Georgetown and the Central Area. Greenwood and Ballard have Artwalks. That's the kind of fun urban experience we like to foster.

Councilmember Judy Nicastro is focusing on renters in the city. What can we do to stabilize rents and improve options for apartment dwellers?

Councilmember Richard Conlin ensures that neighborhoods can plan and implement projects and programs that make different parts of the city interesting and unique. Fremont has its troll, Greenwood has Greenhouse Park, Ballard has Bergen Plaza. Richard is also a staunch supporter of everything we do - like the Neighborhood Matching Fund - to increase citizen participation.

Jim Compton chairs the Public Safety and Technology Committee. In addition to ensuring that every Seattle neighborhood is safe, Jim has a goal of making the new communications technology available to all. That means wiring all our community centers and libraries for Internet access.

Richard McIver is fighting for our share of federal, state and regional dollars to bring our road system and transit services up to speed. Bike lanes, trails like the Burke-Gilman, and sidewalks are part of the long-term plan. Everyone should be able to get around in Seattle, whether you ride a bike, bus, or BMW.

Peter Steinbrueck watches out for the very poor and is developing an initiative to link the homeless - including the homeless youth in the University District - with the services they need to achieve self-sufficiency.

Councilmember Heidi Wills and I chair the committees that oversee the city's electric and water utilities. Utility rates are about the only element of your cost of living that city government really can control. And we believe you're entitled to reliable, high-quality service for the rates you pay.

As Council President, I try to knit together the efforts of my Council colleagues so that the whole city succeeds. Over the next couple of months, I'll tell you about some of the initiatives of individual councilmembers and why I feel privileged to work with this team.

Margaret Pageler is president of the Seattle City Council. Cartoons are by Mandy Morrissette.