posted 04/21/09 02:07 PM | updated 04/23/09 12:27 PM
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Election Season-Opener for Seattle City Council Candidates

City Council Candidates from left: Ginsberg,Plants,O'Brien,Miller, Licata,Israel,Williams,Bagshaw,Bloom,Kaplan,Rosencrantz,Conlin,Royer.

First public Meet & Greet of the 2009 Election Season draws 13 candidates & 60+ voters.

Candidates for Seattle's City Council gathered last night for the very first public Meet & Greet of the 2009 election season.   ‘Meet the Candidates Night’ was hosted by the View Ridge Community Council in the Sandpoint Community Methodist Church, garnering an anonymous quote: “looks like an appropriate place to pray for representation.”   Candidate Mike O'Brien explained the significance of this night while putting it in perspective: "There's been some social gatherings so far, but this is the first real get-together. 6 months from now we'll look back and think of this as small-potatoes." But November is a long way off and the first round had only just begun.

Candidates got 3 minutes to present themselves and their platform, followed by a Q&A from the audience.   The fairly-full crowd of 50-60 people listened as 13 candidates shared their back-stories:   Richard Conlin & Nick Licata are current council members running for re-election.   Sally Bagshaw, David Bloom, Jessie Israel, Martin Kaplan, David Miller, & Jordan Royer are all coming to politics from various community-focused backgrounds.   But not everyone has the same level of experience.   Robert Rosencrantz is starting his third campaign attempt.   Meanwhile David Ginsberg, Mike O’Brien, & Dorsol Plants were all speaking in a political setting for the very first time.

The first speaker of the night faced dead silence during a mental hiccup and the audience endured drawn-out pauses between sentences.


  "I hope you weren't recording that first bit," said Ginsberg jokingly.  As a first-time public speaker, "I'm not quite used to public speaking ... but I was just drawing a blank at the beginning."   On the other end of the stage the last candidate in line for the speaking rotation, Royer, admitted he was tired after 2 hours of listening, joking with the crowd "It looks like I'm batting cleanup. I hope everyone is still awake."   Some candidates were considerably alert however, including O'Brien who spoke without pause, as well as Rosencrantz who spoke with a measured confidence as if reading cue-cards for a motivational video.   Williams was the only speaker to use notes.

The candidates were easily identified by the name badges prominently worn on their chests.   The candidate’s family members were easily identified by fliers in-hand and buttons proudly affixed to their chests. The two media reporters were easily identified by the incessant tapping coming from their laptops on an otherwise empty, reserved front row.  

The time-keeper was easily identified by constant beeps throughout the night (except for a timer fumble in the fourth quarter) and the spasmodic waving of a school-crossing flag which amused Ginsberg and received a comment from time-conscious Williams.   The flag was a 30 second warning and the beeps were a ‘suggestion’ to stop talking.   Overall the night appeared to go as planned with most of the candidates sticking to the (unenforced) time limits of 3 minutes for presenting platforms, 2 minutes for question response and a final 1 minute summary of a specific solution to a problem facing Seattle.   The only egregious time limit breakers were Conlin (25 seconds over) & Israel (40 seconds over).

Not all candidates were entirely clear on which position they were seeking.   The meeting agenda had 4 candidates listed as "Not yet designated," meaning there still picking which battle to join.   Two of those undecided, Robert Sondheim & Darryl Carter, never even showed. Contacted by phone, Sondheim explained he was at a wake for a friend but was still definitely campaigning.   Carter did not respond to a phone call and email request for comment.  

Below are the 4 positions in contention and a closer look at the candidates vying for a chance to be on the City Council.   I’ve also given my personal analysis on how each race is shaping-up based solely on performance, (not on campaign contributions, the more likely indicator ).

Candidates “Not yet designated”

Dorsol Plants – Veteran w/ 2 tours of Iraq. Chair of N’hood Assn. Focus is Homelessness & the ‘Jail Issue’

Michael O’Brien – “background in Economics&Finance, not Politics.” Sierra Club / Prop1 Transit initiative

Robert Sondheim – “still testing out the waters” 3 main points are for a Safe, Clean, Affordable Seattle.

Darryl Carter – did not respond to a phone call and email request for comment.

Position #2 Two-way race

Richard Conlin (incumbent) – Current President of the City Council. Excited about Sound Transit.

David Ginsberg – Wants change, bold new leadership & ideas.

This looks like a no-brainer. Conlin is seasoned & settled while Ginsberg is wet behind the ears.  But Ginsberg is pushing for change, and Conlin will have to defend his “proven track record.”

Position #4 Two-way race

Sally Bagshaw – “We wanna get things done” 4 things: jobs, transportation, public safety, public schools

David Bloom – “low-income advocate” Focus on homelessness/living-wages, housing levies, ‘the Jail’

Sitting uncomfortably side by side, Bagshaw & Bloom copied each other through every speaking round, from changing where they stood while speaking (Bagshaw the first candidate to step down to the floor and Bloom following suit) to how many years they’d been working on their issues (Bagshaw counts 31yrs, Bloom counts 20yrs). This tit-for-tat by two long-time community organizers seems fairly balanced and likely to be heated.

Position #6 Three-way race

Nick Licata (Incumbent) – Seeking re-election. Only candidate with a blog. Focused on safety policy.

Jessie Israel – Activist for women’s causes. Focused on public parks & public/private partnerships

Martin Kaplan – “I’m going for Nick’s seat.”   Extensive community involvement in Queen Anne

Licata is confident enough in his position that his campaign manager could be half his age.  Kaplan has community leadership experience though, and Israel is rearing for a fight. A good debate will probably sort this one out.

Position #8 Four-way race

David Miller – President of the Maple Leaf Community Council.   Variety of specific, detailed goals.

Robert Rosencrantz – 3rd time’s a charm? "The Mayor, he roars, while the city council whispers"

Jordan Royer – “I’m a believer in the broken-window theory.”   Focus is crime in Beacon Hill’s ‘jungle.’

Rusty Williams – folksy local.   Pushes his varied experience as “Breadth & Depth required for the job.”

Rosencrantz may be playing the role of ‘comeback kid’ but he is outgunned by three more experienced candidates.  Williams wants to frame the debate on his breadth of experience while Royer wants to show he’s been on the ground dealing with the tough issue of crime.  Miller is a technical thinker with good ideas and some leadership experience.  Miller, Royer, & Williams are loud and confident speakers, while Rosencrantz is stubborn and determined.  I don’t see all four seeing the whole campaign through, but whoever remains will definitely elevate the caliber of discussion before Election Day.

To contact the author, email:

You can also follow Johnathon Fitzpatrick on Twitter: @ JJtweets

You nailed it - very thorough. Love your writing style. Thank you for doing this!
Comment by Ravennous 2 months ago (0 votes) (report abuse) ()
whatever happened to the RBCA?
Whatever happened to the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association? The board has not met in over a year; the listserv is dead. Back in the day, they hosted the biggest community debate of the Nickels-Sidran-Schell mayoral race.

This blog is providing a great service in knitting our neighborhood together. It's time to restart RCBA or to form a new community association that will actually meet/listen/speak for our neighborhood.
Comment by WRS 2 months ago (0 votes) (report abuse) ()
The founders of this blog have met with those involved with the RBCA, and we're trying to breathe new life into that organization - while still being aware of the need that are outside of the Ravenna-Bryant area. If you have any specific questions, or would like to get involved, email us at, and we can figure out a way to collaborate. Thanks for the input!
Comment by Ravennous 2 months ago (0 votes) (report abuse) ()
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