COMING IN JUST UNDER the deadline, Seattle Times columnist Jean Godden filed on Friday, Aug. 1, to run for Seattle City Council, challenging incumbent Judy Nicastro, who recently has been embroiled in controversy over campaign donations. The well-funded Nicastro already faces challenges from five others in the city election's most crowded race. Other candidates challenging Nicastro for the nonpartisan Position 1 seat in the primary on Sept. 16 are David Ferguson, Kollin Min, Robert Rosencrantz, Art Skolnik, and Darryl Smith.
In a brief story in Friday's Times, the paper reported that Godden, 71, was tired of chipping away at the political process from the outside. Godden, who also worked for many years at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, has never held public office.
Kerry Coughlin, a Times spokesperson, said Godden gave the paper no advance notice of her political plans and resigned today. In a note to the Times staff, Managing Editor David Boardman said, "Jean recognized that continuing to work here would put us in an unacceptably awkward position in covering her race."
There has been no decision, Coughlin said, as to whether to replace Godden with another columnist or deep-six her "three-dot" column altogether. Godden was a gossip columnist whose short items encompassed politics, business, society, and media.
Godden wouldnt be the first former Times staffer to run for public office. In 2001, former Times education reporter Dick Lilly was elected to the Seattle School Board.
Godden penned a proposed final column, announcing her departure and explaining to readers her rationale for running for office, and submitted it to the paper. She later pulled the column before it appeared in the Times, owing to what Cathy Allen, her campaign manager, calls "ethical concerns."
The column, a draft of which was obtained by Seattle Weekly, reads in part: "Over time, I've longed to do more than scribbling in a notebook and transcribing notes. All around me, I see mistakes being made, problems going unsolved. ... I've decided that I have been outside, watching others for too long." The column is to be turned into a campaign press release to be sent out on Monday, Aug. 4, Allen said.
The other City Council incumbents and their challengers:
Position 3: Peter Steinbrueck (incumbent), Zander Batchelder, Rudi Bertschi.
Position 5: Margaret Pageler (incumbent), Linda Averill, Dick Falkenbury, Tom Rasmussen, Mike Thompson, Thomas L. Wade.
Position 7: Heidi Wills (incumbent), David J. Della, Bob Hegamin, Christal Wood.
Position 9: Jim Compton (incumbent), Angel Bolanos, Susan Harmon, John E. Manning.