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Political shakeup at Seattle City Hall for Council's Central Staff

caption: The sign at Seattle City Hall.
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The sign at Seattle City Hall.

Seattle's new Council President Sara Nelson has fired the head of the Council's central staff, Esther Handy.

Central Staff’s job is to help lawmakers with “objective research, and analysis,” much like the Congressional Budget Office in the Washington D.C.

Nelson is naming former Central Staff director Ben Noble to replace Handy. Noble was the director of Central Staff "for more than seven years" according to his city bio. He is currently Director of the Office of Economic and Revenue Forecasts.

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Before her role at Central Staff, Handy served as a director of two progressive non-profits, including Puget Sound Sage, and before that worked as an aide to former Councilmember Mike O'Brien.

Handy was first hired to run Central Staff by former Council President Lorena Gonzalez, a Progressive who also ran for mayor against Bruce Harrell.

Councilmember Nelson’s politics are much less progressive. First elected in 2021 to an at-large council seat, Nelson has a reputation as a business-friendly centrist.

Last week, Nelson was elected council president by the new centrist majority on the council, which includes five new members.

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