Most Influential: Ones to Watch
Seattleites whose actions are soon likely to affect our city and our daily lives
By Kate Calamusa, Karen Johnson, Brangien Davis
December 31, 1969
She had been in office only a few months when Seattle City Council member Sally Bagshaw earned a citywide high-five for seeking to delay a proposed (and controversial) Dale Chihuly museum project at the Seattle Center. Convincing the center that it should at least entertain other proposals for how to use the former Fun Forest space, Bagshaw displayed a consensus-building nature that served her well as chief of the civil division in the King County prosecuting attorney’s office for eight years. Suggesting that whatever goes into the Fun Forest space be compatible with the Seattle Center vision and with existing facilities, Bagshaw, on her City Council blog, celebrated civic engagement. “The bottom line is that because of concerned citizens like you,” Bagshaw told constituents, “we have successfully opened up the process.” More recently, Bagshaw stepped in to block Mayor Mike McGinn’s attempt to renege on a deal the city had made with the Museum of History & Industry over the sale of the property MOHAI must soon vacate. Bagshaw called the attempt “reprehensible” and declared: “A deal’s a deal.”
Reportedly the first venue Jimi Hendrix ever played, the historic Columbia City Theater (columbiacitytheater.com) is now once again showcasing up-and-coming local musicians on its storied stage. Opened in 1917 as a vaudeville theater, the space has since housed a jazz club, an artists’ commune, a punk rock venue, a rave scene and a variety of squatters. In February, Seattleites C.B. Shamah and Robert Hillman bought the struggling theater and gave it a major facelift, upgrading the bar (naming it The Bourbon) and bringing old-school glamour to the 350-person-capacity space. Shamah and Hillman reopened the theater in June, intent on bringing a high-caliber music scene to the south end. Thanks to booker Kevin Sur, they’ve been doing just that, with killer lineups including local indie rockers Hey Marseilles, Grand Hallway, The Young Evils, The Head and the Heart, and The Maldives, plus hip-hop artists, burlesque, Latin jazz and punk rock shows. Will all this musical goodness be sustained? Let’s hope so.
Political pundits, local media and the city’s downtown business community are calling Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess one to watch. A former police officer and marketing professional, Burgess showed his political inclination when he drafted and meticulously revised a controversial anti-panhandler bill in late 2009. The law—approved 5 to 4 by the council in April but vetoed by Mayor Mike McGinn—would have made it easier for police to cite “aggressive” panhandlers. Burgess has taken the loss in stride. “It was a good discussion,” he says. “We sensitized the city to street crime.” The momentum generated within Seattle’s business community—Burgess’ biggest base of support—has left many to consider this Lincoln High School alumnus a likely opponent of McGinn in 2013. Burgess isn’t saying whether a mayoral bid is in his future; he’s directing his attention toward education, jobs and city planning initiatives—and one project that falls outside the political arena. “My wife is always telling me, ‘Smile, Tim, smile,’” jokes Burgess. “But I take [my job] very seriously.”
Change of Art
It’s been quite a freshman year for Seattle Art Museum director Derrick Cartwright. Since replacing Mimi Gates last fall, Cartwright has stomached several economic blows—most stemming from the demise of SAM’s former downtown real estate partner, Washington Mutual. Cartwright has had to reduce staffing at the museum by 7 percent, implement two-week furloughs in its three facilities and take a 10 percent pay cut along with other top executives. In late August, SAM revealed it was in danger of defaulting on its downtown lease and filed a petition with King County Superior Court asking to borrow as much as $10 million from its endowment fund. “It’s been a really challenging year,” Cartwright admits. But the gracious, softspoken director, who previously ran the San Diego Museum of Art, is optimistic. In addition to star-powered special exhibits (Picasso this year, Gauguin in 2012), Cartwright is eager to do more with the museum’s permanent collection, and engage in more programmatic risk-taking. “I like disrupting expectations of what an organization will do,” he says. We’re eager to see how that plays out.
Published November 2010
More articles from our Most Influential issue