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Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen Starts Second Term
Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen Starts Second Term
by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

On Monday, January 7, re-elected Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen was once again inducted into office for his second four-year term. This year Rasmussen will Chair the City Council's Parks and Seattle Center Committee. He will also be Vice Chair of the Labor Committee, and will serve on the Planning and Land Use Committee (chaired by Sally Clark).

Although Seattle's parks may seem bucolic, the Parks Committee faces some potentially contentious decisions. Long-range plans for Seattle Center will be reviewed and adopted by the City Council this year. In addition, the Council will consider plans for the Magnuson Park Historic District. Structures on the site are up to 70 years old, and many require significant maintenance work. Private for-profit companies have applied for leases on park buildings, but residents in the surrounding community have expressed concern about retaining public access to the park.

"I want all our parks to be affordable and accessible to everyone in the community," Rasmussen said. "I'm very concerned if we lease out these facilities, that will it still be possible for low and moderate income people to use them."

The challenge of balancing new development and community needs will also be at the center of Rasmussen's work on the Planning and Land Use Committee. Citing the sale of the Odd Fellows Hall on Capitol Hill and the numerous condo and commercial developments in that neighborhood, Rasmussen said, "I will take an active role in developing a strategy to retain the unique character of the Pike/Pine corridor. We want to create incentives and opportunities to save important older buildings rather than letting them be demolished. Affordable housing is also a great challenge."

The outstanding issue for the City Council's Labor Committee is the police officers' contract. Seattle Police Department officers (represented by the Seattle Police Officers Guild/CWA) have been working without a contract for over a year. While they are prohibited by law from going on strike, Seattle's police officers are affiliated with the Communications Workers of America union, like public safety workers in other major cities, and are allowed to bargain collectively for a fair contract.

Rasmussen also hopes the City will take an activist role in promoting the health and wellness of the City's employees, and will use his position on the Labor Committee to promote that goal. "We have a long way to go in this regard. We could be leaders in that, but right now we aren't."

Tom Rasmussen can be contacted at 206-684-8888, or tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov

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