The Seattle City Council voted Monday to appoint Abel Pacheco, a public policy professional who works to increase diversity in math and science, to fill the District 4 seat vacated by former Councilmember Rob Johnson in early April.
Pacheco will take on leadership of the Planning, Land Use and Zoning committee, which Johnson had chaired. Over the next seven months, Pacheco will have a chance to weigh in on the controversial upzone in the University District and legislation around attached and detached accessory dwelling units.
Pacheco was audibly emotional as he accepted the seat. He thanked his parents and especially his mother, whom he had told he would run for office and make her proud.
“Thank you all for the opportunity, and just like I told her, I hope to make all of you proud as well,” Pacheco said.
The appointment follows weeks of applications and public process, ending with 11 potential candidates from which council members could pick their newest colleague.
Four of the 11 received nominations, including Brooke Brod, who works for an education nonprofit, David Goldberg, who sits on the Seattle Planning Commission, and Sherae Lascelles, a businesswoman and community organizer.
The successful candidate required five council votes. Pacheco took an early lead in the first round with four votes before dropping to three in the second round. Ultimately, the majority of the council threw their support behind him.
According to his application, Pacheco struggled to find his place in school as a young man but went on to graduate from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy & Governance and currently leads legislative efforts to increase opportunities for women and students of color in STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Math).
In his early 30s, Pacheco will be the youngest member of the City Council. He doesn’t own a car, a fact that he touted on Twitter as “one of the best decisions of my life” and brings up when he talks about his advocacy for density near transit projects.
Pacheco has actively sought to participate in local government and decision-making processes. He ran for District 4 in 2015 but didn’t make it past the primary. Prior to that he sat on the Wallingford Community Council as its Quality of Life chair for two years.
Pacheco also participated in the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda focus group as the Wallingford representative.
Before applying to fill the District 4 council seat on a temporary basis, Pacheco was running in the primary against nine other opponents. He will have to drop out of the race as a result of his appointment.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
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