Seattle City Councilmember Sara Nelson: ‘We need to reconsider what we’re spending money on’

Dec 29, 2023, 8:11 AM | Updated: Dec 30, 2023, 2:12 am

Sara Nelson, city council...

Sara Nelson, Seattle Councilmember-at-large. (Photo courtesy of

(Photo courtesy of

Sarah Nelson has been on the Seattle City Council for two years and could be running for council president in January.

Talking to Matt Markovich on Seattle’s Morning News on Friday, Nelson made it clear she has a priority for her next term.

When it comes to the often criticized King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCHA), she said, “We need to reconsider what we’re spending money on and what they’re spending money on.”

Nelson said that because the KCHA is a regional authority and because homelessness is a complex problem, “I was concerned that council has been dictating how the dollars are spent by the KCHA. So we need to make sure that they’ve got some independence and how they spend that money.”

Her focus on proper budgeting doesn’t stop there.

“For too long, we have used one-time sources of funding to fund ongoing programs,” Nelson explained. “And so, personally, I think that we need to look at saving money. And as I said, reallocating resources if necessary, before thinking about new revenue, we have to make sure that we’re spending our existing revenue-wise.”

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In other words, Nelson said raising taxes is low on her list of priorities.

Five new council members will join Nelson in January and she expects those newly elected to tackle issues that their new voters expect to be handled.

“These council members are fresh off the campaign trail, and they were voted into office because they were responding to the demands of an electorate that is pretty upset about our slow progress on crime, homelessness, housing, and affordability,” Nelson said. “And that’s on top of the livability issues like potholes, graffiti and all the rest. And so those will be top of the agenda.”

She explained that “how we do business as a council.” is even more important.

“What I’m looking at is a group of incredibly accomplished and professionally diverse council members coming in, you know, there are five new people, that’s the majority, and then we’ll have a six when we fill a vacancy. If people didn’t take the typical route to office. Many of them come from the private sector. They ran like I did, because they love our city, and they want to help fix it.”

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Nelson said that everything is on the table moving forward.

“Specifically, I am concerned about the fact that our small mom-and-pop landlords are selling their properties because it’s been very difficult for them to continue to do business.”

Nelson said the city needs to create more opportunities for them.

“Then there are also the headlines that we saw yesterday of a small business that is pausing operations in Seattle, because recent legislation has made it too difficult if and when I say that everything is on the table. And if it’s proven that the laws that have been already passed, are doing more damage than good when it comes to preserving jobs in tax revenue in the city. They deserve in merit reconsideration.”

Nelson also said that council meetings will continue in a hybrid format, but “these council members heard loud and clear that their constituents want their council members to get back to work fully staffed in City Hall. And that is my expectation.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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