Morning update on the Mayor/Council appointments

This morning at the Council Briefing, more details became clear on how the mayoral appointment, and the follow-on Council appointment, will happen.

This afternoon, the Full Council will take up the topic of appointing a Mayor, since Bruce Harrell has declined to continue in the position. Early this morning, Council President Pro Tem Lorena Gonzalez issued a statement saying that she is not interested in serving as Mayor, which makes Council member Tim Burgess the presumptive appointee.

The appointment requires a majority of Council members – five – to vote for a nominee in order for it to pass. Harrell is currently not on the Council, since he is serving as Mayor. Council member Lisa Herbold is absent today. So that leaves seven. According to Gonzalez, the Seattle Ethics and Election Commission has recommended that the nominee recuse himself/herself from voting since the Mayor’s job pays more than a Council position and thus presents a conflict of interest. That leaves six Council members eligible and available to vote today. So far, Council member Sally Bagshaw has announced that she intends to nominate and vote for Burgess. None of the others have hinted as to their views. If a Mayor is indeed appointed this afternoon, it will be a tight vote.

As for the subsequent appointment of someone to fill the vacant Council position, Gonzalez has indicated that she intends to leave decisions on that process to Harrell, who retakes his seat on the Council, and his role as Council President, as soon as a new Mayor is sworn in.  The Council members did have a brief conversation this morning as to how quickly they want to appoint a new Council member. Council member Rob Johnson stated that his preference would be to appoint someone quickly — hopefully later this week — so that next Monday when the Mayor delivers a proposed budget to the Council they have a “full complement.”  Bagshaw threw her support behind Johnson’s position.

Council member Kshama Sawant, on the other hand, pushed for an open application process, pointing out that such a process would not need to take the full 20 days allotted to the Council to fill the vacancy. She said that in her view, the most important issue is not the administrative process, but rather what voice will the Council have on the budget — once again advancing her position that the city needs a budget that delivers for ordinary workers instead of another “business as usual” budget.

Your faithful correspondent is spending the entire day in City Hall, and will issue reports as events transpire. (you can follow along in real time on Twitter)