In 'Citizen Jean,' former columnist, council member reflects on Seattle life | KNKX

In 'Citizen Jean,' former columnist, council member reflects on Seattle life

Feb 7, 2019

Jean Godden has heard a lot of stories over the years.

Godden, now 87, was a columnist for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and The Seattle Times, before serving three terms on the Seattle City Council.

But she almost didn’t get the chance to collect those stories in one place. Godden had a heart attack in December 2015, just days after leaving her city council office for the last time.

As soon as she got out of the hospital, she started writing. The result is a book, “Citizen Jean — Riots, Rogues, Rumors, and other Inside Seattle Stories.”


On “Citizen Jean,” the title of her book: “My working title was ‘Confessions of a Bad-Ass B****.’ I didn’t make that up. The Stranger called me a bad-ass b****. And I’m proud of it. I figured I’d embrace it.”

On arriving in Seattle in 1950 from Virginia: “We went across the country, my mother, my brother and I. My father had already arrived. We came in over the old floating bridge. It was an August day around noon, and the sun was out, and it was absolutely splendid and wonderful. I immediately knew this is a place that I loved.”

On encountering sexism in journalism and politics: “He said ‘You have good legs for an editorial writer.’ At the time I hardly thought about it. Looking back I think there was a good deal of misogyny. … Especially when you’re running for office. I had three very challenging campaigns and in most cases I had about four or five men who were running in the same race. People would pay attention to what the men were saying, and they would sort of ignore you.”

On what she wants new Seattleites to know: “I hope they’ll know we care a great deal about the environment. I hope they’ll know we care a good deal about community, and about activism. There are things we need to tell our city council members. I hope they will want to engage with the groups in their neighborhood, their community, and on their street.”