With a vacancy in Seattle City Council Position 8, Council President Sara Nelson announced on Jan. 12 that the Council identified eight finalists to fill the vacancy left by now-former City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, Position 8 – Citywide).
The finalists—Juan J. Cotto, Neha Nariya, Mark Solomon, Vivian Song, Steven K. Strand, Mari Sugiyama, Linh Thai, and Tanya Woo—were selected from the list of 72 applicants provided by the City Clerk.
Cotto is the senior government affairs and community relations strategist at Bloodworks Northwest; Nariya is the co-founder of Civic Hotel in Seattle; Solomon is the crime prevention coordinator with the Seattle Police Department (SPD); Song currently serves on the Seattle Public School Board of Directors; Strand is the west precinct commander for the SPD, which covers the Chinatown-International District (CID); Sugiyama works in the city’s Human Services Department; Thai, a military veteran and advocate for housing affordability; and Woo is a CID community leader who lost a race for the District 2 seat by only 403 votes.
In the ongoing discussions surrounding the selection process, council members have made their criteria clear. They want someone with whom they can collaborate effectively, emphasizing qualities such as public service engagement and active community involvement. At least three council members want the new council person to bring public safety experience to the position.
A significant point of contention is the absence of an Asian city council member.
The Asian community plays a vital role in the broader fabric of Seattle and we contribute significantly to the city’s social, economic, and cultural vibrancy.
We argue that appointing someone of Asian descent is crucial for ensuring a more diverse and inclusive decision-making process. We deserve a seat at the table.
Out of the finalists for Position 8, at least five are of Asian American descent, each bringing distinct experiences and perspectives to the forefront. Notably, Tanya Woo has garnered attention, with at least three councilmembers, expressing her as their top or second choice. Rob Saka nominated Mark Solomon.
We appreciate that the City Council understands the importance of having an Asian American fill that seat. But there can be only one. The hope is that the selected candidate will authentically represent the Asian community and contribute to the diverse and inclusive representation Seattle aspires to achieve.
For the candidates that will not be appointed, the call to action is clear. They must remain actively engaged with the community, continue contributing to public service, and collectively work towards enhancing the city’s well-being. As Councilmember Cathy Moore stated, the city has many boards and commissions looking for people with different skills—offering various ways for people to stay involved in the community.
As the selection process progresses, the anticipation grows for a special public meeting scheduled for Jan. 22, providing an opportunity for public comments on the candidates.
The final vote is expected on Jan. 23.
It is essential for the City Council to navigate these complexities with sensitivity and a commitment to fair representation. The decisions made in the coming weeks will not only shape the trajectory of Seattle City Council Position 8 but also send a powerful message about the city’s dedication to inclusivity and responsiveness to the diverse needs of its residents.