New Year's resolutions usually include exercising more, spending less money on shoes, and bullet journaling for some reason. But as many look for ways to improve themselves in 2023, Seattlites can also draft some New Year’s resolutions for the Seattle City Council members. We already reviewed the moments where progressives and moderates dazzled and disappointed, so here are some of the best and worst moments of the year for the three most conservative council members: Council Member Sara Nelson, Alex Pedersen, and Debra Juarez.
Nelson, who represents everyone in the City as of the beginning of 2022, came into office swinging. She picked fights, she licked boots, and she lived up to her promise to deviate from the crazy anarchists on the council.
Her devotion to Seattle’s business community led her to a shining moment in her first year, establishing a Seattle Film Commission. The 11-member commission will advise the council on policies to make Seattle a more desirable place to film movies and television, so Seattle never misses out on Seattle-set productions like iCarly and Fifty Shades of Grey again! While the commission only adds another toothless task force to the City’s collection, Nelson is not one to wait around for studies (we’ll get to that later), so perhaps she’ll make good on her promise to implement the commission’s recommendations as quickly as possible.
The Seattle Film Commission seems fine and likely won’t be a huge waste of City money, which stands in stark contrast to Nelson’s lowest moment of the year, her unrelenting fight to give cops more money for being cops.
Nelson’s fight followed in the footsteps of former Mayor Jenny Durkan, who instituted huge hiring bonuses for cops by executive order on her way out of office. The council let the Durkan have her way temporarily, but even hiring incentive proponents decided to take more time to study whether or not incentives bring in more recruits, and deliberate what other departments might need help in drawing more applicants.
Much like the former Mayor, Nelson wouldn’t take "no"—or even "wait"—for an answer.
This spring, she pushed for incentives before the long-awaited study, and then when the City could not prove hiring incentives would bolster the cops’ numbers, she discredited the study as a “two-page memo.”
Nelson stormed ahead, proposing a resolution to declare the council's intent to lift a budget proviso and allow SPD to offer incentives. Nelson eventually won her fight with a resolution that basically signaled support for whatever Mayor Bruce Harrell wanted to do. Harrell later announced the City would let the cops dish out bonuses of up to $30,000 for lateral hires and $7,500 for recruits, despite lingering concerns that bonuses would not stop the bleeding at SPD.
More often than not, Pedersen, who represents the U-District, Wallingford, Roosevelt, and Windermere, stands up for landlords and business interests. One of his best moments of 2022 betrayed his usual alliance with landlords, and one of his worst moments basically just confirmed what most Seattlites already knew about his anti-worker tendencies.
This summer, Pedersen sought to collect more information from landlords. His bill would have required landlords to report the price and size of the rental properties to the City twice a year so lawmakers could better understand the housing crisis. His bill definitely pissed off self-proclaimed “housing providers,” but Pedersen very clearly wanted data to help him argue against density in the comprehensive plan (ew), but others on council like Sawant and Morales saw the data collection as a way to demonstrate the severity of the housing crisis (not ew!).
The bill passed because why the fuck would you not want more information about how much it costs to live in Seattle? But then, Harrell issued his first veto to kill the policy. The bill returned to council, but no one from the dissenting side (Dan Strauss, Teresa Mosqueda, Jaurez, and Nelson) jumped ship to override the Mayor’s veto.
Pedersen went out on a limb to do something controversial that could help renters, but he also went out on a limb to do something controversial in fucking over grocery store workers.
The council took a bad vote at the end of last year, ending a pandemic-era $4-an-hour hazard pay for grocery store workers as the Omicron variant started to surge. Even the former Mayor found the council’s actions to be a little evil, and she vetoed it in her administration's last breath. Most council members came back in January and humbly sustained the Mayor’s veto, seeing the error in their ways, but Pedersen doubled down. He once again voted to end hazard pay, even though the county saw some of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the virus’s history that same month. Nelson, who joined the council after the initial vote, also voted to end hazard pay despite the record-high positivity rates.
Juarez, who represents Northgate, Bitter Lake, and Lake City, served as the council president this year, and she used that power to chastise both ends of the political spectrum.
In one of her best moments of 2022, Juarez broke ranks with her usual allies, Nelson and Pedersen. The two threw a hissy fit over the budget, claiming it fell short on public safety, even though the council fully funded the Seattle Police Department’s hiring plan again. The conservatives felt so strongly opposed to a budget that even the pro-cop Mayor respected that they voted against the entire package. (Sawant also voted against the budget, but because socialism.)
Juarez didn’t fall for their virtue signal and voted to pass the package. After all, she crunched the numbers last minute to find more money for Ingraham High School to help in the fallout of the recent fatal shooting that rocked the community.
But her respect for the process hasn’t just shamed the council’s conservatives. She also came down on Sawant for saying the “D-word.”
In February, Sawant introduced a resolution to signal support for Starbucks workers as they attempted to unionize. She urged her colleagues to “just vote ‘yes’ on the resolution if [they] want to pretend to be any kind of pro-union politician.”
Nelson and Pedersen called the resolution a “distraction” from the council's actual job. Pedersen said that the council has made its commitment to labor clear with passed legislation, rendering the symbolic resolution unnecessary. A few progressives fought back to “correct the narrative” that the resolution strayed from the council’s “lane.”
Juarez tried to lightly referee, insisting that there was no correct narrative, just differing opinions. But when Sawant started to list anti-labor votes and call everyone a Democrat, it went too far for the council president. Sawant even pissed off Mosqueda by bringing up her initial vote to end hazard pay.
Juarez muted everyone and said that it is never appropriate to insult other members of council (call them Democrats) or "use former examples of how people may or may not have voted in the past."
To be fair, the meeting had derailed and the council had an agenda to get to, but Juarez's philosophy in that moment only helps elected officials hide their bad records from the viewing public.
The conservatives on the council might have brought the City a film commission and at least tried to bug landlords to cough up rental information, but they did plenty to piss off the left, too. Seattle is stuck with Nelson for now, as she just earned her seat last November. But with Juarez announcing she won’t seek reelection and Pedersen’s seat up for grabs, Seattle voters have the opportunity to weaken the conservative bloc, which would be a pretty sick New Year’s resolution.