District Councils: How Representatives Are Chosen

Wednesday is the next meeting of the North District Council (7 PM, Lake City Library). In this series of articles we discuss the Neighborhood District Councils in Seattle.

Part 1: Introduction to the North District Council

Part 2: How Representatives Are Chosen

Neighborhoods do not have specific representatives as such on the District Councils.  It is made up of organizations which are part of each district. The North District Council has had reps from the Thornton Creek Alliance and other community organizations for example.

Each represented group on a District Council must select representatives and alternates to the district council in ways that are in accord with their rules. According to the By-Laws of the North District Council, for an organization to be eligible it must have “an active membership of at least nine individuals and/or businesses within the designated District boundaries. The nine members shall not count toward the nine of any other organization. Shall hold one general membership meeting annual that is open to the public and at which elections are held. Shall commit to regular attendance at Council meetings.” At-Large Council Memberships exist for anyone who can get nine signatures from residents, or as a person residing within the boundaries, you can attend and participate as an individual. As with many volunteer organizations, the “elected” representatives are often those willing to stand up, do the work, and show up.

These neighborhood organizations select representatives and alternates who attend the meetings and act on their behalf. The representatives are typically community members who are activists, organizers, or simply concerned neighbors who are willing to put in the time to participate. Meetings often have guests such as City Council members, City Department directors and others who visit District Councils as the first step in reaching out to the neighborhoods. Everyone who attends is appreciated and can have an impact on what goes on in our city and in our district.

Attendance at community meetings in general varies a lot with the perceived urgency of the issues. Sometimes it takes a lot to get people out for a meeting.

Next: Part 3: Is the District Council a squeaky wheel or just public relations?

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