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Thursday, January 26, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Editorial

Seattle's floundering City Council

How does a great city like Seattle get a City Council that flounders so much? The council revealed a lack of vision and boldness with its process for hiring a new council member to replace early-departing Jim Compton.

The council picked six finalists based largely on gender, race and, in some cases, liberal political bona fides. Some members opposed candidates who ran previously, as if showing interest in the job were a bad thing. How? Why? The list of finalists lacks a candidate with superior business credentials, a moderate Republican or even diversity of thought.

Certainly, former Councilwoman Dolores Sibonga, who made the list, is professionally very well-rounded but would be a caretaker until next election. Seattle should hire a full-time council member — now. Hiring a caretaker is a cop-out.

Venus Velazquez is young, Latina, passionate. She has worked in public relations, experience that will serve her well. She is probably the best pick.

The council sold the community short by not fully entertaining the candidacy of Darryl Smith, president of Rainier Chamber of Commerce. Smith fell out of favor because he initially opposed a Latino day-worker center at the old Chubby & Tubby store on Rainier Avenue South. The neighborhood is making a comeback but remains fragile. Smith acted based on what he felt is best for the neighborhood.

Similarly, the council would not entertain another previous council candidate, Robert Rosencrantz. If the council were serious about improving its credibility and gravitas, he would have been in the final group. He knows business and housing issues.

Another embarrassment was the ragged attempt to elect a council president smoothly. Deadlocked in a 4-4 tie between council members Richard Conlin and Jean Godden, the council picked the genial Nick Licata. His politics are too lefty, even for Seattle, but he can make up for some of it with his own respectful way of doing business.

Some council members are concerned that Licata's staff is weak and agenda-driven. This is his problem to manage.

Seattle City Council members all want to be admired and respected and are unafraid of saying so. Respect is earned by doing the public's business thoughtfully rather than always politically. The city would be better-served if the list of finalists brought a broader range of ideas and perspective.

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