city hall, from Page 24
electing each councilmember citywide. A system in which council members from each district are accountable to voters in those districts breaks that lock. It levels the playing field and ensures that every neighborhood has a voice when critical decisions are made.
For a change, the benefits — not just costs — would be more evenly distributed, and downtown and development interests won’t dominate.
District elections also make it much easier to elect progressives, neighborhood candidates and anyone with a strong message new to politics — even young people, seeking to make a difference and challenge the status quo.
Instead of having to spend $300,000 to reach all 350,000 voters and trying to beat a powerful, well-heeled incumbent, with a district system, challengers will only have to reach 50,000 voters.
Direct mailings and other big campaign costs drop appreciably.TVand radio ads are no longer effective. Grassroots campaigning, doorbelling, yard signs, handshaking, sign-holding — good, old-fashioned campaigning — can trump the power of money.
District elections now are necessary to return city hall to the community. This is why we’re involved and why every neighborhood in the city will benefit.
JOHN V. FOX and CAROLEE COLTER are coordinators for the Seattle Displacement Coalition (www.zipcon.net),a low-income housing organization. To comment on this column, write to