Politics
Next Monday, the Seattle City Council will vote on which applicant should serve the remainder of Rob Johnson’s term. He resigned from his seat representing Northeast Seattle earlier this year.
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Next Monday, the Seattle City Council will vote on which applicant should serve the remainder of Rob Johnson’s term. He resigned from his seat representing Northeast Seattle earlier this year.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Jason Pagano

Rob Johnson will leave Seattle City Council in April

Seattle City Councilmember Rob Johnson will resign April 5. That could mean fireworks in council meetings.

Rumors had circulated that Johnson would be leaving, but a City Council spokesperson confirmed the news early Thursday.

Johnson had previously announced he would not run for re-election and is planning to start a new job as a transportation adviser to Seattle's new National Hockey League team.

The fact that Johnson negotiated the NHL gig prior to leaving office provoked ethics complaints. Wayne Barnett, executive director of the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, said the commission will review the issue, possibly at their next meeting.

There’s no accusation of wrongdoing under current ethics rules.

Johnson has had to recuse himself from any vote in which the NHL team had "a financial interest." And after he leaves office he's not allowed to lobby or even communicate with the city council on behalf of the new NHL team for period of time.

Johnson is going out on a high note. He spearheaded a citywide upzone that just passed the council earlier this week, part of efforts to build more affordable housing in Seattle.

Johnson’s 4th District encompasses the University District, Eastlake and parts of Northeast Seattle.

Johnson's announcement means the council will have 20 days to appoint a replacement. In a memo to fellow lawmakers, Council President Bruce Harrell said the council should appoint a person who can step quickly into the job and serve on the planning committee -- but also agree not to run for the seat in the fall.

Still, the vacant seat sets the stage for a power struggle -- first in picking who'll fill in until November, then in the election itself, when seven out of nine council seats are up for grabs.

Johnson's decision not to run again has already produced a crowd of candidates in the 4th District ahead of the May 17 filing deadline.

Johnson is also one of four council members, including Harrell, who are not running for re-election.