SEATTLE — Seattle City Councilmember Alex Pedersen announced Tuesday that he would not seek re-election this year. His seat is up for a vote in November 2023.
"Striving to serve the public as a voice of reason during tumultuous times been an honor, but I am not a career politician," Pedersen said in a statement issued by his office. "... After 2023, my family will need me more than City Hall, and they are looking forward to having me back."
Pedersen said not having to campaign this year will free his office up to focus on serving more than 100,000 constituents in his district. He said recent polling numbers reflected that he would receive support in an upcoming election, but "just because an elected official could win again doesn't mean they should."
"I'd be happy to hand the reins to another qualified and pragmatic public servant selected by voters this November," he continued in part.
For the remainder of his term, Pedersen said he would focus on public safety, preventing economic, physical and cultural displacement and ensuring fiscal responsibility "so the people's tax dollars are invested as effectively as possible."
Pedersen said he will be returning to the private sector after his term ends in 2024.
Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Deborah Juarez also announced they would not seek re-election in 2023.
In early December, Herbold wrote in her weekly newsletter, in part, "I feel like it’s time to do my part to create an open seat election in District 1. I believe that an open seat can better drive turnout and deliver District 1 to another progressive."
Juarez also announced she would not seek re-election at a council meeting in early December.
With these departures, one-third of the council seats will be filled with new members in November. Patrick Schoettmer, who studies city government and works in the political science department at Seattle University, said the last time this many people left was in 2015, but said it is common for people to leave in waves due to new opportunities or burnout.
“Turns out 2020 to 2023 have been pretty busy, pretty dramatic years, you know, from COVID and the Floyd protests. People coming to other people's homes to protest outside of it. It's kind of been a lot,” said Schoettmer.
He said the makeup of the council and any major changes in the direction of council, will depend on who fills the seats. He said right now the council has two blocks of members, those who are more centrist and those who are more social democratic.
“Pederson, who was elected in the fourth, who's definitely one of the more centrist, pro-business candidates leaving, could help the progressive wing,” said Schoettmer when analyzing the balance of the Seattle City Council.
Schoettmer said it is important for people to vote this November as local government decisions can make a big impact.
“A lot of the issues that we worry about on a day to day basis are the issues that local government are going to be addressing,” said Schoettmer.