Councilmember Jean Godden
Council position: 1
In office since: 2004
Current term: 2012-2015
Many Seattleites remember Jean as an awards-winning city columnist, first at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and then for the Seattle Times. She achieved columnist status after years working as an urban affairs writer, editorialist, editorial page editor, business editor, and restaurant critic.
Jean was born into a nomadic military family; her father made maps and charts for the U.S. government, completing surveys for the Tennessee Valley Administration. They lived in 116 towns and cities before she arrived in Seattle at age 17. She attended Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism on a scholarship, later graduating from the University of Washington's School of Communications. She is an honored member of that school's Hall of Fame.
Jean was propelled into community activism following a disastrous school levy failure in Seattle. When her son's kindergarten class was cancelled, Jean worked with other parents to organize a cooperative kindergarten. That led to her election as PTA president and to active membership in the League of Women Voters, Citizens Against Freeways (stopping the R. H. Thompson roadway through the Arboretum), the Municipal League, and the United Way. She helped organize the Lake City Community Council and served as an elected director. In the late 1960s, Seattle Mayor Wes Uhlman appointed Jean to his charter review committee and later named her to the city's Board of Adjustment, which considered zoning variances and conditional uses.
In August of 2003, Jean quit her job as a city columnist to run for the Seattle City Council. Elected after a whirlwind 100-day campaign, she assumed chairmanship of the Energy and Environmental Policy Committee. During her first term, she led the council in stabilizing City Light's finances, lowering electric rates by 8.4 percent across the board, and achieving three years of greenhouse neutrality (the first major utility in the country to do so). She also orchestrated passage of a Critical Area Ordinance that protects fish-bearing streams and curtails use of pesticides.
In her second term, she chaired the Finance & Budget Committee, which oversees financial management and budget policies for the city. She led the council through four difficult budget years, keeping core services strong and taking steps to maintain the city's triple-A credit ratings. Meanwhile, she worked to involve citizens in setting budget priorities and made budget deliberations more transparent and more readily available to the public.
At the start of her third term, Jean will head a committee known as "LUC," an acronym for Library, Utilities, and (Seattle) Center. In addition, she will co-chair the council's Waterfront Committee, which will work to open the city's magnificent waterfront and redesign lands long shadowed by the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
Jean balances her passion for the city, for its citizens and community activism, with meetings of the Uppity Ladies Book Club, games of Scrabble, bicycling, kayaking, and spending time with friends and family. Jean has two sons, Glenn and Jeff, two grandsons, Chris and Matthew, and three "greats," Joshua, Raevyn, and Calla.