What a whirlwind 2014 was for all of us working at City Hall. And, the Seattle City Council is still ready to take on even more heavy lifting. We passed 256 ordinances: a dizzying number, from a $15 minimum wage to confirming the first woman ever to serve as Seattle’s Police Chief. To cut to the chase, I am proud to have shaped legislation that delivers new equity and better service that a city as progressive as deserves.
I won’t detail all 256 laws, though you can find them at this link, but I will highlight some of the best. My office in particular stayed the course on gender pay equity, working with my colleagues to pass a Gender Pay Equity Resolution, cementing the City’s commitment to narrowing the pay gap between men and women. I also secured $250,000 to start the city’s first paid parental leave program in 2015. Just this past December, I held the first Gender Pay Equity Town Hall in Seattle at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute. With over 50 participants and a knock-out panel of local women, the evening was empowering and educational, getting us fired up for 2015 to be the year for women’s equity.
In chairing the Parks Committee, I oversee management of the Seattle Center, Libraries, and Parks, my committee approved a long-term lease for the Playhouse with Cornish School for the Arts taking over management and revitalization of the facility. The Committee also approved a contract to explore options for the future of Key Arena, one of the most recognizable structures inherited from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. And last among the major highlights of my committee’s work, we approved the expansion of Seattle Tilth’s urban farm in Rainier Beach to enable the farming of more produce and more educational and meal programs.
Council sent the voters many vitally important ballot items this year. I am excited the voters handily approved the Seattle Park District in August, prompting my office to begin the hard work setting up the district governing board, passing bylaws and selecting candidates for a park district oversight committee.
In fashioning the 2015-16 biennial budget, we were able to include provisions to begin rehabilitation of Green Lake in the new year rather than waiting a full year. We were also able to expedite a thorough assessment of bicycle trails and add assistance for neighborhood planning.
Voters also overwhelmingly approved the Initiative for a city pre-kindergarten program. I look forward to seeing the pilot program implemented in 2015, with the first pre-K classes due to open in September. At the State level, we are all happy to see the gun background checks ballot measure passed to help keep our communities safer.
Of other interest, Council endorsed Seattle’s bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature and created incentives to maintain and restore historic downtown theaters. We saved Seattle millions of dollars annually by creating a Multi-City B&O Tax Portal and relaxed regulations, helping to bring high-speed internet to Seattle neighborhoods.
The City Council’s work was expansive this year, but most of all, I am proud to be a part of decisions that preserve Seattle’s unique neighborhood character – that same quality of life that keeps Seattleites safe, at the cutting edge of technology, and always working for wage and social justice equity.
I look forward to what 2015 will bring: it will be just as busy, and I ask all of you to use your voices to weigh in and help shape the legislation that we at the City Council will tackle.