Jan 2, 2024 - Politics

Seattle City Council turnover is highest in 100+ years

Illustration of Seattle City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The new Seattle City Council is the least experienced in modern history, with the most new members in over a century.

Why it matters: Six of nine council members taking office this month are doing so for the first time, meaning that city politics are bound to change. The only question is how much.

By the numbers: The last time the council had this many fresh faces was in 1908, when eight of 18 council members were new, according to City Council staff.

  • To find a year when a similar or higher percentage of council seats turned over, you'd have to go back to the late 1800s, according to an internal analysis shared with Axios.
  • "Suffice it to say, it's been a very long time," council spokesperson Joseph Peha told Axios.

Catch up quick: Most of this year's turnover is due to four council incumbents not seeking re-election.

  • Another council member, Andrew Lewis, lost in November to Bob Kettle, a retired naval officer.
  • The sixth departing member, Teresa Mosqueda, was elected to the King County Council. She plans to formally resign from her Seattle council seat Tuesday, leaving the position vacant.

The latest: Most of the new council members, except Mosqueda's yet-to-be-chosen replacement, are being sworn in Tuesday at City Hall.

What we're watching: One of the biggest issues before this year's council is how to resolve a budget shortfall of over $200 million that's projected for 2025.

  • With so many new members, it's not clear how the council will approach that problem.
  • Several of the new council members expressed reservations about raising taxes, and emphasized the need to closely audit the city's spending before looking at new revenue.

What's next: The council still needs to appoint someone to fill Mosqueda's seat, something the city charter directs them to do within 20 days.

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