Former Councilmember and mayoral candidate Peter Steinbrueck withdrew his application to finish out Councilmember Sally Clark's term Thursday. As a former council president and chair of the Housing and Human Services Committee, he was likely a frontrunner for the position.
But he told Crosscut in a telephone interview that he had never really made up his mind. "This opportunity came up very quickly," he said. "I submitted my application as a placeholder while I considered the pros and cons. But I've given considerable thought to the time commitment, the city's needs and my personal goals. It would represent an interruption in my work and not serve my longer term interests."
"I'm not interested in re-entering politics," he said.
He also said that this selection should be used by the council as an opportunity to bring in fresh blood. "The council has some good choices on that list that don't represent the status quo or middling bureaucrats," he said. "I'm thinking of younger people that would bring a broader perspective."
"I've got three individuals in mind," he said, but would only give one.
"I got to know Shelley Secrest while working on the Office of Professional Accountability [an independent group within the Seattle Police Department]. She would be outstanding in her knowledge and experience."
Secrest is a lawyer and a policy analyst with the Metropolitan Urban League of Seattle. Her background is predominantly in matters of police and incarceration. According to her resume, she played a role in securing Washington state's moratorium on the death penalty, fought to restore voting rights to ex-felons and worked to reform use-of-force policies in the Seattle Police Department.
From the outside, the chances of Secrest, or any young candidate for that matter, securing the job seems low. Burgess made it clear he wants 1) someone with the know-how to chair Clark's former Housing Affordability, Human Services and Economic Resiliency Committee and 2) someone who can hit the ground the running, suggesting an advantage to former council members.
But Steinbrueck doesn't buy it: "I don't think the council should preoccupy themselves with experience in public office."
So considering the high profile and well-established names like former council members Jan Drago and Heidi Wills, would the council take a risk with a younger candidate like Secrest? "I wanted to use my withdrawal to make that statement." said Steinbrueck. "And I was there when we appointed Sally Clark."
This is what Steinbrueck sent to the council:
This is to inform you that, after further thought, due diligence, and introspection, I have reconsidered my application for the temporary appointment to the Council and hereby withdraw. In reviewing the list of 44 applicants, I feel confident the council has a number of highly qualified candidates to choose from, who can bring added perspective while ably performing the duties of councilmember. It is my personal hope that you will use this rare opportunity to not only choose an individual with the requisite qualifications, but go further by giving a deserving person, preferably a woman of color who has not previously held public office, this extraordinary opportunity to serve the greater good.
Thank you for your hard work and all you do for the people of Seattle.
As for his reference to choosing a woman with a minority background, Secrest would fit the bill.