Sally Clark has joined the exodus of longtime Seattle City Council members, announcing Wednesday that she will not seek reelection.
Clark has served a decade on the council. The departures of Clark, Nick Licata and Tom Rasmussen means the city’s nine-member legislative body is losing more than 40 years of collective experience.
The departure assures that the City Council will have at least four new members come next January. District 5, encompassing Seattle’s most northerly neighborhoods, has no incumbent.
The occasion for departures has been a switch to a district-based election for seven of the nine council members. Two council seats will be elected at-large. All council seats are up for grabs in the August primary and November general election.
“I am proud of the work we have done together to make Seattle more safe, affordable and sustainable,” Clark said in a statement. “We’ve done that by widening and deepening opportunities for prosperity, broadening involvement in decision-making and making city government work smarter.”
Clark followed with a lengthy litany of recent City Council accomplishments.
The consequence of retirements and districts is going to be a free-for-all of endorsement battles, candidate forums, and direct mailings that enrich consultants.
Eight candidates have declared in District 1, which includes West Seattle and South Park. The list includes a longtime City Council aide, an organizer in the SeaTac $15 minimum wage campaign, a businessman who gave money to wage opponents and the chief of staff for King County Councilman Joe McDermott.
In another district, Seattle City Council member Jean Godden will face off against three opponents at two March community forums, five months before the field is culled in the August primary.
As with Rasmussen, Clark is a longtime city politics fixture. She worked for the Department of Neighborhoods before joining the council. She is perhaps the blandest member of the council, often hard to pin down on issues. Conversations with Clark have evoked President Harry Truman’s famous frustration with economists saying “On the one hand” and “On the other hand.”
Clark was one of nine council members singled out for praise or cooperation in Mayor Ed Murray’s state-of-the-city speech on Tuesday.
The assumption at City Hall was that council President Tim Burgess and Clark would run for the council’s two at-large seats.
Already, within hours of Clark’s announcement, Mayor Ed Murray’s in-house legal counsel Lorena Gonzalez announced that she will seek the at-large seat. The candidacy announcement came from Northwest Passage Consulting, which has candidate clients in almost all of the Council races.
The departure of Clark also creates a temptation for Councilman Mike O’Brien, a popular progressive, to run at-large. It would raise the profile of O’Brien’s issues, particularly opposition to coal and oil trains, and calls for divestment in fossil-fuel stocks.