Openly lesbian Seattle City Councilmember Sally J. Clark announced Wednesday that she will not run for re-election in fall 2015. With Clark’s statement, she becomes the third sitting councilmember to sit out in 2015, with January seeing Nick Licata and Tom Rasmussen issuing similar declarations.
“After almost 10 years of service to the people of the greatest city in the country, and with tremendous and valued colleagues, it’s time for me to start a new chapter. I will not run for re-election to Seattle City Council this fall,” her statement read. “I’ve been honored to work with amazing, creative, passionate advocates across many disciplines and many neighborhoods in Seattle since being appointed to City Council in 2006. I am proud of the work we have done together to make Seattle more safe, affordable and sustainable. We’ve done that by widening and deepening opportunities for prosperity, broadening involvement in decision-making and making city government work smarter.”
Clark discussed her finest attributes to the City of Seattle.
“Upon arrival I started advocating for a comprehensive, citizen-driven approach to refreshing Seattle’s neighborhood plans. In collaboration with then-Mayor Greg Nickels and then-Councilmember Richard Conlin, we renewed our commitment resulting in plan updates in more than half a dozen neighborhoods. I am immensely proud of the work I did to launch Bank On Seattle-King County so that low-income, ‘unbanked’ people can leave behind high interest pay-day lenders and check-cashing shops. We reached the next step by combining efforts with the Allen Family Foundation, Neighborhood House and others to establish neighborhood-based Financial Empowerment Centers, bringing practical saving and debt-reduction help to Seattle communities most in need.”
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said, “Councilmember Clark is the best kind policymaker, a leader who will dig deep into issues to bring clarity to the opaque. She often plays the role of pathfinder, helping find the common ground to move legislation forward. She has a long history as an effective leader in the LGBT community and has served Seattle for years in many roles in City government. As a strong advocate for neighborhoods, she has helped create vibrant communities where families thrive. This coming year, we will implement solutions to make housing more affordable in Seattle and I know her leadership will be a key element of our success.”
Murray added, “On a personal note, I’m going to miss her sharp wit, which brings the right note of levity at the perfect moment in a long meeting.”
Clark tipped her hat to Murray, saying: “Mayor Ed Murray’s strong support for and recent signature on Priority Hire requirements for City capital projects was a capstone on two years of research and negotiation. I spearheaded this effort in tandem with Councilmember Mike O’Brien. In combination with Council’s passage of paid sick and safe leave standards, higher minimum wage and the start of universal pre-school, I feel lucky to be part of a Council responding to the corrosive disparities that plague so many U.S. cities.”
There are still critical items awaiting completion, according to Clark.
“While I am proud of having lead the Council’s adoption of incentive zoning to prompt greater production of affordable housing by the for-market development community, the work of making our city affordable for people of low and modest means remains far from finished, as the recent One Night Count of King County unsheltered homeless people painfully demonstrated,” she said. “I’m thankful for Mayor Murray’s dedication to the affordable city and grateful for the work of the 28 volunteers who accepted our invitation to serve on the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee.”
Clark issued thanks to those who have stood behind – and beside – her work in the City of Seattle throughout her tenure of 10 years.
“As a legislator you accomplish little by yourself. I thank the many neighborhood advocates, small business people and social service advocates who make our city beautiful, safe, fun and compassionate. Through this service I’ve met creative people who care deeply about this place we live. I’ve tried to help by figuring out how to build a policy, how to use my bully pulpit and how to work something into the budget,” she said. “I’ve been joined in this work by exceptional City staff who love Seattle and what they get to do. That includes a cast of councilmembers since 2006 whom I’ve seen give so much— personally and professionally— to improve the condition of who we are now and who we will grow to be. This includes the supremely talented and committed staff who have worked in my office helping me and, more important, helping the thousands of people who have called, written or emailed for assistance over the years.”
Then, something a little more personal.
“I’ve been joined and helped in this stage of my life by my spouse, Liz Ford, as well as by many friends who still invite me out from time to time despite how many times I’ve said I can’t make it due to a meeting,” she reflected. “I look forward to having the time to be a better spouse and friend.”