After a whirlwind week of legislative positions opening up and being filled, Vandana Slatter is ready to get to work.
Slatter — the newly-appointed representative of the 48th Legislative District — resigned her position on the Bellevue City Council Monday night before she heads to Olympia.
She was appointed to the representative role after Rep. Patty Kuderer was appointed to fill the 48th’s Senate seat, vacated by Cyrus Habib after his election to the lieutenant governor position.
“With the size of Bellevue’s economy, I do not believe I’d have the bandwidth to do both jobs,” Slatter said. “I’m honored to serve in this new capacity, and support Bellevue in this new capacity, as well as Kirkland and Redmond.”
By law, she is technically allowed to hold both positions at once, but she decided against it.
With Slatter accepting the 48th position, this leaves a vacancy on Bellevue’s City Council for the Position 5 seat. Beginning Jan. 14, the city has 90 days to fill that position, which will be held until the November election, when Positions 5, 2, 4 and 6 will all be up for grabs.
Because Slatter was voted into Position 5 in November 2015, that reelected position would serve the original term, through Dec. 31, 2019.
She said that even though she only served a quarter of her term, she was able to bring a diverse perspective (as a woman immigrant in the tech field with a medical background) to her time on the council.
“I think passing the biennial budget was one of the harder things we did, along with working on the ballot measures and on an affordable housing plan,” Slatter said.
The council passed a $1.5 billion budget in December 2016, and the council also recommended two ballot measures — for transportation and fire — on the November ballot. Both passed.
She said the council (along with several other government agencies) should perhaps be proudest of when it acted to save the Highland Village apartments last summer. Even then, she saw a way to improve.
“It really highlighted the need for a better, more proactive strategy,” Slatter said. “It was a reaction, not a proactive move. We need our government to be nimble.”
At the council meeting on Monday, Slatter’s fellow council members expressed regrets that they were losing her insight on the council, but happiness that she would represent a large portion of Bellevue in the state House.
“We have benefited from your collaborative spirit,” said Councilmember Kevin Wallace. “We didn’t always agree, but we found common ground. I also appreciate that you understand numbers.”
Mayor John Stokes praised her work ethic, saying “she doesn’t do anything by halves.”
Councilmember Conrad Lee said Slatter’s perspective was a valuable one.
“You brought a lot to [the position],” he said. “I’m not happy for the city of Bellevue to see you go, but I’m happy for our district.”
Slatter said she regrets she won’t get to help the council as it deals with affordable housing, the Eastgate homeless shelter, Energize Eastside and Sound Transit capital projects, but will do what she can with her city experience in Olympia.
“We don’t always agree on the council, but it’s obvious every one of them loves Bellevue,” she said. “It’s a masterclass in leadership. Sometimes it’s like being in the private sector, our city government is so responsive and effective.”
Slatter said that her work with city staff has made her a more effective council member, and hopes that knowledge will translate to legislative work.
“I stand on the shoulders of giants,” she said. “Everyone around me makes me look good.”