Council has appointed the next Renton city councilmember, out of 22 applicants; Angelina Benedetti.
“I want to be a councilmember because I believe it is one of the highest and best ways to serve your community,” Benedetti told council during her interview. “It’s an opportunity to commit to listening to people who are a part of the city. It’s a big job.”
Benedetti told council she loves the community. She’s a fourth generation Rentonite, and even wants to be buried with her grandparents at Mount Olivet Cemetery. She prioritized inclusion, equity and affordable housing in her application materials and in her interview.
The appointed councilmember is a King County Library System regional manager, and holds a Masters of Library Science from University of Washington. She has served on numerous committees and boards, including Renton Regional Community Foundation, Mayor’s Budget Advisory Committee, board of the Civic Core Vision and Action Plan, and six years on the Renton Planning Commission. She was also chair of the planning commission for the last three years.
Benedetti told council during her interview that she is committed to affordable housing, and reaching out to voices from the whole community on citywide issues, as well as actively seeking more representation on boards and commissions in Renton.
“I understand the transformational power of good governance,” Benedetti stated in her application. “As I tell my daughter, you can change the world, ‘one boring meeting at a time.’”
Renton City Council selected six applicants on Jan. 27, to be interviewed at the Monday, Feb. 3 Committee of the Whole meeting: Benedetti, James Alberson, Jennifer Davis Hayes, Linda Smith, Maria Teresa Vazquez and Wesley Bergquist. After all six candidates were interviewed, council had a two hour break until the vote at the evening Renton City Council meeting.
At the council meeting vote, each councilmember selected one of the interviewees. If an interviewee received four nominations or more, they were appointed to council. If needed, the council would have been able to repeat the vote until someone reached four, but Benedetti was selected in the first round of voting.
Councilmember Kim-Khánh Van was the second to nominate and the first to vote for Benedetti. She thanked all the applicants for the work they do in the community, and said she nominated Benedetti for her service commitment to the city. Councilmember Valerie O’Halloran said she looks for selfless dedication to community, and also nominated Benedetti, as did councilmembers Ryan McIrvin, Ed Prince and Randy Corman.
“All 22 of you, in my opinion, were worth sitting up in this chamber,” Prince said of the applicants at the council meeting.
Prince was the fourth vote for Benedetti, confirming her appointment.
After Prince’s selection, Corman also voted for Benedetti, and Pérez changed her vote to Benedetti, from Maria Teresa Vazquez, to make the decision unanimous.
Corman told the story of his first attempt to join council, and how he did not receive the appointment but later won a seat through the election process. He said he hopes the applicants consider running for office in the future.
Benedetti, along with the other five interviewees were each asked questions by councilmembers. Each councilmember wrote a question, and all six council questions were asked to each interviewee. The questions were: Why do you want to be a councilmember? How would you define inclusion and equity, and how would you specifically address inequity in our city? What roles, if any, do cities have regarding climate change? As Renton grows economically, it grows more out of reach for many working class families, how would you keep Renton an affordable place for everyone? If you were running for election to this seat, what would you tell doorbellers the most important issue for you to work on is? Housing is of great concern across the region, how would you provide increasing housing options while balancing this with the preservation of existing neighborhoods?
“I know it’s a grueling process, I’ve joked before it’s easier to run for council than go through this (appointment.) It’s fantastic we have this many people committed to the community and put themselves out there,” Mayor Armondo Pavone said at the meeting.
Benedetti will be sworn in at the next council meeting, Feb. 10. She will serve the remainder of the council position two term, Pavone’s council seat before he was elected mayor, expiring Dec. 31 2021.