Sunny incumbent faces potty-mouth challenger
Sally Bagshaw (incumbent) versus Sam Bellomio
Seattle Councilmember Sally Bagshaw suspends her typically sunny demeanor when she talks about her opponent, Sam Bellomio.
Bagshaw, who is seeking a second term on the Seattle City Council, has worked to build a reputation as a good listener. Her demeanor changes when she discusses Bellomio and his fellow activist Alex Zimmerman. The pair appears at most meetings to yell at the Seattle City Council for being inaccessible to the public.
Bagshaw has had enough of it.
“They’ve never contributed anything,” Bagshaw said. “If they ever offered a positive idea, I think people would sit up and listen. They have just been so negative.”
Now Bellomio is challenging Bagshaw for her Position 4 seat on Seattle City Council.
Bagshaw, formerly a chief of the civil division of the King County Prosecutor’s Office, is running with plans to expand affordable housing, improve downtown safety and secure funding for public transportation.
She said she wants to use her second term on the city council to expand a program that allows private developers to build taller buildings in exchange for a fee that is used to build affordable housing. Earlier this year the city council set the fee at $22.88 per square foot of additional height in a new building, but Bagshaw and some of her colleagues think developers could pay more.
Bellomio, an Occupy Wall Street-inspired activist, is running on a single issue: to open up city government to citizens.
Bellomio has beaten that drum for the past two years through Zimmerman’s activist organization, StandUP-America. Bellomio argues that the city council is inaccessible to working-class people because meetings take place during the day and members of the public have just two minutes each to speak. Bellomio wants the council to hold regular town hall meetings without a fixed agenda to hear what people want. Elected officials aren’t supposed to lead, he said, but facilitate the will of the people.
“They [are supposed to] find out what the community needs and find ways to facilitate that,” Bellomio said. “What they’re acting like is leaders, where ideas come from them, they implement them and we deal with it.”
Governing isn’t that complicated, Bellomio argues, frequently asking, “How do we get low-income housing? By creating low-income housing.”
Bagshaw said she and her colleagues on the Seattle City Council are accessible, at least to people willing to have a civil conversation.
“The thing I am best known for in my first four years is being available and accessible to people all over the city,” Bagshaw said.
But she and other councilmembers have lost their patience with Bellomio. Bagshaw cut Bellomio off during a public comment period in August when he held up a sign that read “F.U.C.K.” which he said stood for “Freedom U Can’t Kill.” The city council attempted to bar Bellomio from speaking at city council meetings for two weeks in October after he called Councilmember Tim Burgess a dick.
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