Tag Archives: Meeting 6/20/13

CHCC Election 2013

Below are short statements from the candidates for the election on 6/20. A PDF is available here: 2013 elections. See more at the Capitol Hill Times and Capitol Hill Seattle blog.

George Bakan, Current President

Running for President

For 26 years George Bakan has been the Editor-in-Chief for Seattle Gay News. He has been overseeing the operation of the SGN weekly newspaper since 1983. George was born in Seattle, raised in rural Bellevue and in the 1960s he moved with his family to Eastern Washington. George returned to Seattle in the early 1980s to become a gay activist. Some of the highlights of his almost 30-years of gay community activism are organizing the Seattle AIDS Action Committee in 1983, which later became Mobilization Against AIDS. During the early days of the AIDS epidemic George and the Seattle AIDS Action Committee organized an annual candle light vigil at SCCC at Pine and Broadway on Capitol Hill. During his early days as an activist he co-chaired the 1984 Freedom Day Committee, now known as Seattle Out and Proud. George was the regional co-chair for the 1987 and 1993 National Marches on Washington, DC. During both organizing efforts Bakan led the Northwest sponsored push for bi and transsexual inclusion at the national events. He was on the Hands Off Washington (HOW) Executive Committee and was for a time Vice Chair for Hands Off Washington. HOW worked statewide on LGBT political issues from 1992 to 1996. Thought of retirement does not suit George. The LGBT veteran activist continues his daily oversight at the SGN and looks towards future projects, including health issues for old gay guys and setting up training and leadership workshops for young LGBT activists and a tree planting project in Seattle parks to honor people who have died of AIDS.


John Akamatsu, Current Vice President

Running for Vice President

I am a Seattle native, who grew up on Capitol Hill, and attended St Joes. Currently, I operate a small architecture firm that specializes in residential and commercial projects. I also run from my home a business that supplies treats and toys for small companion herbivores such as bunnies, chinchillas, and guinea pigs.

Over the past 45 years, I have watched the ebb and flow of Capitol Hill as it has gone through its many manifestations. But the next few years will bring unprecedented changes to Capitol Hill. The new light rail system will offer for the first time RAPID transit to Capitol Hill, bringing thousands of riders to the area each day. Changes in zoning will allow greater density, meaning not only more residents but more commercial interests. The recent attempt by City Council members to introduce the Regulatory Reform package’s changes to Capitol Hill and other neighborhoods without careful, considered input from the largest neighborhood under the City council’s wing underscored the differences between Capitol Hill and the other neighborhoods. It showed how those changes and improvements that might be good for Columbia City or the University District could have detrimental consequences for the residents, present and future. We see similar trends with the microhousing issue.

It is not that the Hill ranks above the other neighborhoods or seeks special status, but with its proximity to the downtown area, two universities, major hospitals, and to I-5, 520, and I-90, Capitol Hill will become the major neighborhood player of the entire region. Changes are coming, but we must keep the neighborhood safe, interestingly vibrant, walkable, and yet adaptive to new possible developments, uses, and citizens.

We need advocacy and meaningful engagement with our civic leaders and those other forces that shape our neighborhood, including neighbors, developers, pro-density groups and historic preservationsists. It must be civil engagement, free of the speculation, paranoia, and slander that have begun to litter our community forums the past months.


Erie Jones, Current Secretary

Running for Secretary

Hello Capitol Hill residents and neighbors

I throw in my hat to run and serve again as secretary for the Capitol Hill Community Council.

I have lived (and worked) on the Hill for 35 years. There’s no place I’d rather be.

I am a former, long time Seattle School teacher (25 years) and currently teach music at Dusty Strings in Fremont. I have rented on the Hill and am currently a home owner.

It has been a fast moving and eventful past year. Many “hot button” issues have come up. I believe we can be proud of the way we, as a community, have dealt with some difficult issues – especially around growth and change.

We are all going to have some disagreements, appropriately so. It is important we continue to engage with each other in respectful and informed ways.  My intention is to help to promote this.

Capitol Hill is already on a path towards significantly increased density.

It is important to remember that density is in itself not a goal, it is one strategy among many to achieve goals.: those goals being affordable housing, quality of life, community, safety, and enjoyment of life.  Over the past years I have been very happy to see the number of families, gay and straight, with young kids increase and thrive. We need to keep the essential uniqueness of our neighborhood for future generations.

One main goal I have is to continue to build membership and attendance: especially in areas which strengthen our community bonds and solidarity. Our recent Arts Forum (thank you Jeffrey and Michele) was one good example of such an effort. Lets have much more of this type of activity!

I look forward to again working with George, Jeffrey, John, and our new members.

Let’s help keep Capitol Hill, as it grows, one of the best urban neighborhoods in the country – for all of us.

Thank you


Melissa Blankenship

Running for Treasurer

Melissa has called San Francisco, Nashville and Florida home in the past but is happily settled on First Hill these days. She currently serves as the Public Disclosure Officer and Office Manager for Capitol Hill Housing as well as the Executive Assistant to the CEO and COO.  Her interests include music and the arts and she is passionately food focused. Melissa grew up on Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor and she obtained her BA in Mass Communication from Menlo College in Atherton, CA.  She has a background in technology and business operations and spent a great deal of time in the music and entertainment industry.  She has served on the Boards of American Women in Radio and Television’s San Francisco Chapter, The Nashville Advertising Federation and The Brown Dog Foundation, and served the State of Tennessee as a Gubernatorial Appointee to the Motor Vehicle Commission.

Melissa volunteers with Community Kitchens Northwest and is currently a member of the Washington State Public Records Officers organization.  Melissa is looking forward to the opportunity to serve the citizens of Capitol Hill to improve the neighborhood, take the time to work collaboratively with community stakeholders and provide leadership and sound financial management to the Capitol Hill Community Council.


Jeffrey Cook, Current Member at Large

Running for Member at Large

Dear members of the Capitol Hill Community Council~
With this letter I respectfully submit my bid for candidacy in the office of Member-At-Large. Long-standing travel plans with my husband to visit his senior relatives in the “old country” of Norway prevent me from attending the June meeting to present myself in person. I believe I have only missed one other meeting during my term.

For the past 12 months I have been working as a member-at-large with the community council and enjoyed connections I have made while doing this job, as well as its challenges. As a resident of Capitol Hill for 14 years (and frequent visitor prior to that) I have built my life here and hope to continue living here for many years to come. I have witnessed the various changes in our neighborhood in recent years and I have worked within the council, with neighborhood groups, and at the city council level to affect fair standards of construction development which impact the quality of all our lives. I have been the co-chair on the microhousing committee, which regularly reports to the mem-bership regarding recent happenings on that front. I am spearheaded an “Arts Forum” in May, with the goal of connecting of our artists working in the neighborhood today with policy makers and informing residents about arts opportunities on Capitol Hill. In 2013 I will continue working to support the arts and to petition the city for fair development standards on and around Capitol Hill which affect our daily lives.

I remain active with my Lutheran church, I am a working artist in the theatrical industry, I am president of my condo association, and I regularly take advantage of all the dining, nightlife, and cultural happenings that make up the fabric of our neighborhood.

Thank you for trusting me with your vote as Member-At-Large. I would look forward to another year of building on the strengths of this community and the work that the Council has done so far.  Sincerely, Jeffrey Cook


Eric Butler

Running for Member at Large


I’ve lived on Capitol Hill for just over six years, and am excited to run for an At Large position on the Capitol Hill Community Council.

I became interested in neighborhood issues while advocating for public transit, where I quickly learned the importance of building walkable communities for transit to be successful. I love living on Capitol Hill because it is a great community with many bars, restaurants, shops, and parks within short walking distance. I’m excited for the opportunity to give back and champion ways to make our neighborhood even better.

Planning begins soon for two major projects in the core of the neighborhood: development above our future subway station and the streetcar extension to Volunteer Park. These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to build great public amenities, and I’m excited to help make sure the community has a strong voice.

I’m also passionate about improving the neighborhood for people walking and cycling, and hope to work with the community to promote park expansions, safe separated bicycle paths, parklets, and greenways.

I look forward to meeting and working with you!


Alyssa Penner 

Running for Member at Large

Graduating this week with a Masters in Social Work, and working as an academic advisor at the University of Washington, Alyssa Penner hopes to join the ranks of at-large officers to bring a different perspective to the CHCC.

“As a young adult, I have noticed some of the ways that the neighborhood is changing, and becoming less affordable and accessible for young adults,” Penner told The Capitol Hill Times. The main thing that attracts me to Capitol Hill is the socio-economic diversity, and overall diversity in the types of people who live on the Hill. I’m passionate about ensuring that the Hill is accessible and welcoming to everyone.”

Penner, an AmeriCorps member, moved into Seattle and Capitol Hill in 2010 and quickly got involved volunteering with Capitol Hill Housing.

Since many of the current officers and meeting attendees are homeowners, business owners, long-time residents or more financially established, Penner in interested in representing the younger, renting people on the Hill.

“I’ve watched as my peers have been pushed out of the neighborhood because of skyrocketing rents and new, ‘high-end’ apartments geared toward higher income brackets,” Penner said. “I also believe in safety, but not at the expense of disproportionately targeting people of color, LGBTQ folk, or low-income Seattleites. That’s not the Capitol Hill I know and love – a neighborhood that is welcoming to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds.”