The hole in our government where Tim Burgess used to be. Photo by Joseph Peha, courtesy of Seattle City Council

Sixteen Apply to Fill Burgess’ Council Seat, Including Nick Licata

The Council plans to vote on Friday.

Sixteen people have applied to fill Tim Burgess’ seat on Seattle City Council.

The most notable name on the list of applicants in Nick Licata, who served on Council from 1998 through 2015. Other applicants include Abel Pacheco, who unsuccessfully ran for the Council’s District 4 seat in 2015, former mayoral candidate and public comment troll Alex Tsimerman, and Tsimerman-ally and fellow former mayoral candidate Tiniell Cato. At first glance, Licata looks to be the obvious frontrunner. Tsimerman is currently banned from City Hall for refusing to shut up at City Council meetings. According to City Clerk Monica Martinez Simmons, Tsimerman is still eligible to apply for the interim position, and as an applicant can be escorted by staff to and from public meetings on the appointment.

On Monday, the City Clerk delivered the applications to Council. Tuesday night there will be a forum at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall in the Bertha Knight Landes room where constituents can ask questions to applicants. A meeting for comment by applicants and then the public will be held Wednesday night at 5 p.m. in Council chambers. The Council anticipates voting on whom to select at a special full Council meeting on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m.

Councilmembers initially wanted to eschew public process and pick an interim member as quickly as possible, since the legislative body is currently amid its annual budget process, arguably the most important work it does all year. However, activists under the handle Transparent Seattle successfully lobbied leaders to open the process up to public observation and comment.

Once the council committed to the open process, a lot of names got thrown about as possible candidates, including former mayoral candidates Nikkita Oliver and Jessyn Farrell; former councilmembers Sally Clark and Tom Rasmussen; and Gender Justice League executive director Danni Askini—who has been speaking up for survivors of sexual assault since allegations of abuse first surfaced against Mayor Ed Murray. Before the filing deadline Sunday evening, though, each had announced they would not be applying for the short-term position.

Licata told us previously that he feels he’d be a good fit to join the council amid the complex work of budgeting.

“I’d see my role basically to make sure the Council can get the job done as quickly as possible,” he said, referring to the budget, “particularly in this time of unexpected, rapid changes.”

On Monday, Councilmember Lisa Herbold asked the Clerk to tell applicants that “It’s the council’s expectation that they attend” the Tuesday forum and make themselves available to the public.

The context for this crisis is, of course, the sudden resignation of Murray following allegations that he sexually abused minors decades ago. That triggered a game of musical chairs at City Hall. The interim councilmember will serve until the November general election results are certified on November 28, when they’ll be replaced by either Jon Grant or Teresa Mosqueda.

cjaywork@seattleweekly.com

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