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Mayor reaches out to public commenter ignored by city council

Seattle City Council public comment sessions aren’t usually ratings bonanzas, but a recent video has struck a chord, in which Richard Schwartz appeared to get ignored during the brief 120 second he was accorded.

On Friday, Schwartz got a call from Mayor Durkan, and joined The Dori Monson Show to discuss it.

“She expressed her regret on how things were handled, and she said she would get her transportation people to look into our underlying problem, which was kind of behind this whole thing coming to the fore, pedestrian safety on the Westlake cycle track.”

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In the original video (which currently has more than 550,000 views on YouTube), Schwartz made what appeared to be polite attempt to get members of the city council to pay attention, but they simply stared at their phones and ignored him, with councilwoman Debora Juarez speaking merely to remind him of his remaining time and scold him for apparently wasting it.

Schwartz has also since heard back from councilmember González. “She did respond to me as well, and did express that she didn’t think things went the way they should have, and that she was also going to check in with SDOT with her staff to see what they could do.”

He says he never meant for this to blowup like it did, and was simply hoping to be listened to.

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“I’d like to mention also that I’d heard from the grapevine that apparently some of the councilmembers had received threats, which disturbed me, so I did send an email to all of the councilmembers expressing my regret if that had happened, and trying to brief them on why I had come down, that I hadn’t come down to poke a stick in their eye.”

“So far I have heard from Mr. O’Brien, who was nice enough to say that he felt I had been handling the situation graciously.”

At the moment, Schwartz hopes that the original pedestrian issue he was concerned with gets some traction in government, and is glad to see that his incident has resonated with others.

“To a certain degree I’ve felt bad that it put the councilmembers in the spotlight,” he said. “But at the same time, it seemed like it was something that was appropriate to mention, and I’m pleased to see that other people see the problem, and hopefully our public officials will take note of that.”

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