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Organizer Kirsten Harris-Talley Chosen To Fill In On Seattle City Council

Elaine Thompson
City Councilmembers Tim Burgess and Bruce Harrell listen during a public hearing in July 2017 on Seattle's proposed income tax. Burgess is currently serving as mayor. Kirsten Harris-Talley will temporarily fill in for him.

Political organizer Kirsten Harris-Talley is the newest member of the Seattle City Council.

Harris-Talley was appointed Friday to fill in while Tim Burgess is mayor through the end of November. She is currently the program director of Progress Alliance of Washington.

Ed Murray's resignation as mayor in September caused a rapid shuffle at Seattle City Hall. Council President Bruce Harrell became mayor for a few days before ultimately declining the position. Then the council appointed Councilmember Burgess, who is retiring at the end of this year.

That process still left a vacancy on the council bench. After soliciting 16 applications and a week of meetings and public hearings, five of the eight sitting council members voted to appoint Harris-Talley to the citywide position.

Councilmembers Debora Juarez and Rob Johnson voted for Abel Pacheco, who ran against Johnson for his district council seat in 2015. Councilmember Lisa Herbold voted for her mentor and former Councilmember Nick Licata.

Harris-Talley's responsibilities for the next couple months will center around the council's budgeting process. Some of the issues that have come up are the city's strategy to fight homelessness, a proposal to create retirement funds for Seattle workers, mounting legal costs, and funding to support survivors of sexual violence.

Council members cited her work on the Block the Bunker campaign to halt construction of a new police precinct in north Seattle as well as with Surge Northwest, which focuses on reproductive health. 

Harris-Talley will remain on the council until the results of the Nov. 7 election are certified later that month. At that point, either activist Jon Grant or labor leader Teresa Mosqueda will take over.

A Seattle native and former KNKX intern, Simone Alicea spent four years as a producer and reporter at KNKX. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University and covered breaking news for the Chicago Sun-Times. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times.