Video: Burien City Council votes in favor of annexation election – in November
(TOPLINE: Burien councilmembers have voted 4-3 in favor of an annexation election for residents of White Center and environs – but after changing the plan so that it would go on the November ballot, not the August ballot.)
(ADDED TUESDAY – WCN video of Burien councilmembers speaking before the vote. Unedited but starts about two sentences into CM McGilton’s remarks)
7:05 PM: We’re in the Burien City Council chambers, where Deputy Mayor Rose Clark is presiding in Mayor Brian Bennett‘s absence as the council starts its regular meeting. We’re here because of one particular item on the agenda – whether to set the date for a vote on annexation of most of the rest of North Highline. The meeting is beginning with a special guest appearance by King County Councilmember Julia Patterson, who says she is “delighted” to have part of Burien back under her wing as the result of the recent redistricting. We’ll be updating as this meeting proceeds – mostly about public commenters speaking about annexation, and then the council agenda item, unless something else inbetween seems to be of White Center interest. More to come!
7:30 PM: The public-comment period is now under way. First person speaking is Goodspaceguy, who does not seem to be speaking about annexation. Roger Delorum speaks next, talking about “fiscally irresponsible” data regarding annexation. “If this annexation happens, someone is going to gain financially, and it’s not going to be the citizens of Burien.” His short remarks were followed by those of Doug Harrell, who says he’s urging the council to move forward with the annexation, saying it would bring “opportunities of scale.” He adds that he believes people in those area will “have a voice in their future as part of Burien, and I have no confidence they would have a voice as a part of Seattle.” Unlike many other local governments, he says, Burien is in good financial shape, and its leaders “would not consider going forward if it were not prudent for the citizenry” – himself included. He was followed by Joey Martinez. He notes that he works for Seattle and it has a lot to offer North Highline, but: “I feel that Burien is the superior option” for annexing what’s left of North Highline. He says he doesn’t mind which election the council decides to use, August or November, but he thinks they should make a decision on one or the other tonight.
7:38 PM: Next speaker, Elizabeth Gordon, who is a White Center business co-owner. She says she and her customers favor being annexed to Burien. She is talking about how businesses, citizens, and organizations in the unincorporated area are “coming together” to work on improving their area, and she thinks that “supportive network” will help bring a good turnout, even in the summertime vote. She is followed by Aaron Garcia. He says he grew up in White Center, went to Cascade Middle School, Evergreen High School, UW, and he is here “in support of the resolution” to send annexation to voters. “No matter where you lie in this, whether you think White Center is a problem or has potential, we need someone to hear our voices, we need someone to advocate for us … I really, really support moving forward for this and I am a huge advocate for this.” After him comes Sandra Hopp, who says she lives in the recently annexed area and wasn’t for it then but is glad to be part of Burien now. After her is Gill Loring, who lives in the unincorporated area, and is talking about his graffiti-fighting activities in conjunction with the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council. He brings up the abandoned, overgrown, graffiti-covered former El Chalan restaurant – “We’re trying to get that taken care of.” He says he did a straw poll in his neighborhood, overwhelmingly in favor of being annexed by Burien.
7:48 PM: Next at the podium, Ed Dacy, who says he’s been coming to meetings about annexation for 10 years. “I’ve kept an open mind, I’ve looked at the studies …” He thinks the potential financial picture for annexation is even brighter than those studies have shown. “I can’t see a reason not to annex – I think we should go ahead with it.” He also noted that “one strong proponent of annexation … was not able to be here tonight,” referring to Liz Giba of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council and North Highline Fire District Board. After him, Chestine Edgar: She counters by saying that some people who speak about the financial studies, in her assessment, “clearly have not read” the reports, and cites some past reports she says forecast financial difficulty for Burien if annexation was pursued. She says annexation “is not an economically sound idea for the city of Burien,” and does not want to see it put before voters. Besides that, she talks about the lack of agreement between fire districts, a lack of a business plan, and the fact the “sliver on a river”‘s fate has not yet been resolved, and she criticizes NHUAC for “pushing annexation,” just as her time runs out.
7:56 PM: NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin is speaking now, noting that “questions continue to be raised” about NHUAC’s identity and purpose. She says annexation is an issue that affects them, “affects our future,” but it’s not “the only thing we are working on.” She says everyone is invited to their meetings – one’s coming up this Thursday, and will take a look at the Technology Access Foundation project under construction in Lakewood Park. She also speaks about NHUAC’s close relationship with the King County Sheriff’s Office. “The Seattle model of policing differs greatly from what would be offered in Burien,” Dobkin observes, and brings up the US Department of Justice investigation of Seattle Police. She says she feels the timing of the election should be left up to the Burien Council. The next speaker is Robbie Howell who says that she feels “the deck has been stacked against the citizens of Burien,” regarding its finances; she believes services have been on the decline and that Burien can’t afford to “acquire an area that has problems also.” Then Tina Holmes speaks, on behalf of Liz Giba, who she says suffered a stroke eight days ago, and is in Riverton Rehabilitation Center. She speaks of many people lost in recent years who were strong supporters of Burien annexation of North Highline. Holmes holds up a T-shirt she says her sister had made years ago – a blue T-shirt with white lettering, “Say No to Seattle.” She is the last speaker, and now the council moves to other business.
8:33 PM: A long presentation about Seattle City Light‘s strategic plan ensued, with SCL superintendent Jorge Carrasco, who deputy mayor Clark noted is the first SCL rep she recalls seeing here in the years she’s been on the council. Councilmember Jack Block Jr. is grilling Carrasco, and now Mayor Brian Bennett has arrived.
8:45 PM: Not to annexation yet; the council agreed to City Manager Mike Martin‘s suggestion to shelve a discussion of the transportation agenda, but is going ahead with what several said they hope would be a “short presentation” by Discover Burien, whose leaders are talking about their increased outreach and programming.
8:51 PM: And now, they’re on to the annexation resolution. Councilmember Block moves to table the motion. A roll-call voice vote is requested. Bennett: No, Clark: No, Block: Yes, Edgar: Yes, Krakowiak: Yes, McGilton: No, Robison: No. So the motion to table fails. Bennett now moves to ask King County to set the date for November.
9:29 PM: After half an hour of discussion, the council has just voted 4 to 3 to send annexation to the ballot – but in November, not August. Yes votes were Bennett, Clark, McGilton, and Robison no votes were Block, Edgar, and Krakowiak. We have the half-hour of discussion on video and will add it to this story when we are back at HQ and it is processed. The King County Council will have to formally approve the annexation election, which would involve the prospective annexation area, NOT the people who already are residents of Burien.
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