Planning Commission Chair Fitzgibbon Announces Candidacy For State Rep.

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On Monday (March 22), Burien Planning Commission Chair and Legislative Aide Joe Fitzgibbon announced that he was throwing his hat into the ring for the 34th District’s race for State Representative, in the seat being vacated by outgoing Rep. Sharon Nelson.

Fitzgibbon, a former legislative aide for Rep. Nelson, will be going up against several other area candidates, including:

  • Mike Heavey
  • Sabra Schneider
  • Geoffrey “Mac” McElroy
  • Marcee Stone

If elected, Fitzgibbon would be the first Burien resident in the Legislature since 1994. He is currently the only candidate in the race from Burien.

Fitzgibbon is endorsed by his former boss, Rep. Nelson, Rep. Dave Upthegrove of the 33rd District and Burien City Councilmember Brian Bennett.

The 34th District covers Burien, White Center, Burien, West Seattle, and Vashon and Maury Islands.

Here’s Joe’s press release:

BURIEN—Joe Fitzgibbon, legislative assistant for outgoing Rep. Sharon Nelson and chair of the Burien Planning Commission, today announced his candidacy for Nelson’s seat.

“I am running because the 34th District needs new ideas, a fresh perspective on the challenges facing our communities, and real Olympia experience to hit the ground running,” said Fitzgibbon, a longtime 34th LD resident making his first run for public office. “I am the only candidate in this race with local and state experience, and I plan to campaign full time for the job.”

Nelson, who is seeking election to the State Senate, said, “I am excited to endorse Joe. He is highly respected in Olympia, both by legislators and staff, and has forged strong relationships that make him uniquely suited to represent our district in the Legislature. Our successes in reforming payday lending, protecting Maury Island and Puget Sound, and building an alliance of progressive legislators committed to working families and environmental protection owe a great deal to Joe’s policy knowledge and relationship-building.”

Representative Dave Upthegrove of the 33rd District also endorsed Fitzgibbon’s candidacy, noting, “In order to move the Legislature to act on critical local issues like job creation and cleaning Puget Sound, we need dedicated, hard-working leaders in the House of Representatives. I know that Joe is exceptionally well-prepared to be the kind of lawmaker that we need in Olympia and am looking forward to serving with him.”

Burien City Councilmember Brian Bennett, a former colleague of Fitzgibbon’s on the Burien Planning Commission, stated, “Joe is exactly the strong, progressive leader we need in Olympia. As Chair of the Burien Planning Commission, Joe has taken tough stands on complex, controversial issues, including land use, transportation alternatives, density, and protection of sensitive shorelines. Too often, our elected officials don’t exercise the leadership we need to get progressive policies in place, but Joe has demonstrated that he will be a strong, courageous State Representative.”

Fitzgibbon would be the first Burien resident elected to the Legislature since 1994 and is the only candidate in the race from Burien.

Fitzgibbon noted, “I am proud of my work on behalf of West Seattle, Burien, North Highline, and Vashon during my service in the Legislature for the past three years. From tax reform to helping small businesses to funding our schools and colleges, we need focused, proven leadership. I look forward to the opportunities ahead.”

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42 Responses to “Planning Commission Chair Fitzgibbon Announces Candidacy For State Rep.”
  1. Ian Gunsul says:

    I met Joe during the run up to the 2008 elections. His knowledge and passion of local, state and national issues was obvious to me from the first time we spoke.
    He will be an excellent Representative in Olympia for the citizens of our area.

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  2. ivan says:

    I support Joe totally. I go to Olympia a lot, and I interact with a lot of legislators, during the session and the interim. Joe brings more Olympia experience to this race than all the other Democratic candidates put together, and his time spent on the Burien Planning Commission has served him well also.

    Some legislators’ aides do little more than answer the phone and make schedules. Joe has been Sharon’s strong right arm, and his command of the legislation, the players, and the process have helped make Sharon one of the best and most effective members of the House Democratic Caucus.

    Voters who meet Joe and talk to him will realize right from the get-go that he is ready, right now, to step in and serve. He won’t have any learning curve. His election would keep the 34th’s delegation one of the tops in the state.

    This is not to put down Marcee, Sabra, or Michael. I wouldn’t tell anybody NOT to vote for any of them. They are high-class people, and all of them would serve us well. Joe just has more of the attributes I happen to be looking for.

    I’m so excited that Joe has finally filed for election, and I know that the voters will share my excitement and enthusiasm for Joe once they get to meet Joe and talk to him. You will love Joe in Olympia!

    And BTW, Toni Lysen represented the 34th District in the House after being appointed for the 2002 session, so Joe would be the first Burien resident to represent the 34th since 2002.

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  3. Carol says:

    Well I certainly hope that if he is elected he wil pay more attention and be more responsive to his constituents than he has been with the over 400 people who are trying to deal with the Planning Commission on the Shoreline Master Program!!

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  4. Sarah says:

    This is fantastic news for the 34th District!

    Joe has an incredible command of the issues facing the 34th District. In every conversation I have with Joe the depth and breadth of his knowledge of the issues is remarkable. He takes a creative approach to problem solving and there need to be more people like Joe in Olympia. Joe is became on of the most respected legislative assistants in Olympia in his 3 years working in the legislature because of his intelligence and his passion for improving the 34th District.

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  5. btown res says:

    I got an idea. Lets have someone run who has business experience. Wouldnt that be a concept?

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  6. resident says:

    I concur with Carol’s comment.
    As head of Burien’s Shoreline Planning commission, Joe
    was quick with his gavel on a couple of occasions to stifle applause from citizens that were trying to express their agreement with speakers that were addressing the panel with concerns over the SMP.
    I believe the applause was the ONLY way of making OUR point and being “heard” due to the fact that Joe made it clear he didn’t want people to make comments or bring up points that had already been made at prior meetings. This was the first meeting for most attending since there had been no mailing or notice of the earlier meetings. I believe the applause was an acceptable, civil & timely way for the attendees to make their point .
    He made it clear that he had the “power” to shut us down & would do so if we continued in that manner. Hmm, if elected we may all be goose steeping to his gavel rapping.

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    • big daddy says:

      i think it is amusing and sad, that the folks who wanted to keep all the rest of society away from what they think is their private shoreline, and who want the city to pay for testing of the water that they want everyone to stay out of, are not big fans of a guy who was trying to serve all the people, not just the noisy and petulant few who have property along the water. to presume it is in bounds to call someone a nazi is consistent with behaviors like going into a church and gunning down a doctor who provided legal abortions, or throwing slurs at respected politicians of color or who happen to be gay. now the same crowd makes death threats to folks who voted for health care reform. they voted for health care reform because they care about their fellow citizens and about a broken system. what happened to civility in democracy. let’s open up cyberspace and the airwaves to all the warped sickos who can justify any form of aberrant behavior. then let’s chime in about freedom and the founding fathers, who by and large were decent citizens. they would be appalled. i am nauseous. i would also love to meet the brave soul who called Joe a nazi face to face. let’s see how brave he is when it counts. coward, bully, pig, facist. how’s it feel, schmuck?

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  7. Betsy says:

    This state needs someone with more experience. We also need someone who has a passion for serving people not wielding power over them. Joe has shown only that he is tolerant of those who think exactly as he does.

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  8. Barbara says:

    I have watched Joe in person as the Hitlerian head of the Burien Planning Commission. His lack of comfort with seeking any level of consensus is readily apparent to anyone watching him in person or on TV. Consensus seeking is a critical skill for successful politicians. I would be curious to know whether Joe owns any property or pays any property taxes.

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    • A Non E Mouse says:

      Wow…talk about stooping to new lows!



      If I were Joe’s handlers (or Joe), I’d contact Barbara directly about a libel suit, or at the very least, the Editor of this website.


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    • Outside In says:

      It would be nice for the 34th to be larger than just West Seattle. Burien would be smart to back a candidate that lives in its city. Otherwise, West Seattle will continue to have the say of the 34th.

      On another note, running public, community meetings is really hard. I attend more than my fair share of them. And have been on both sides of the gavel. While public opinion is important, letting people commadeer a meeting for their cause is neither productice or effective.

      Let issues be the cause of your judgment. Not public meeting facilitation.

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    • Sarah says:

      Hey Barbara, there was an article about you in the New York Times Today!

      None of the candidates have any information about their educational history on their respective websites.

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    • big daddy says:

      you are one class act. i bet you have tons of friends. don’t let them near the water.

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  9. Julie D says:

    Assuming that the candidate’s educational background will be provided at a later date?

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  10. Sarah says:

    Joe has had to address some extremely controversial and complex issues on both the shoreline and the planning commissions. Serving in a thankless volunteer capacity he has shown tremendous leadership and wisdom in navigating these issues. As the individual charged with leading these meetings his job is to keep order and civility and keep the conversation productive and moving forward.

    Using the term “Hitlerian head of the Burien Planning Commission” is offensive to me as a Jewish woman. You should be ashamed of yourself for equating this incredible, thoughtful, intelligent man with Hitler. Joe stands for the environment and the people of Burien. Barbara, I would urge you to consider revising your comments.

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  11. Tami says:

    As a Jew and as an environmentalist, I have never been more frightened as a free American citizen than I felt in that meeting chaired by Mr Fitzgibbon! Property seizure is quite unpopular indeed under any guise including environmentalism! Then to try to silence the tax payer who shows up to speak and defend their inalienable rights was beyond reproach! There was not one person who spoke in the town meeting who was disrespectful. What I witnessed was quite the contrary. The citizens of Burien were organized, eloquent and now they are silenced!

    Thankfully in America I can vote and it will not be for Mr Fitzgibbon!

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  12. Jim Branson says:

    I’m pretty sure Mr. Fitzgibbon is nothing like Hitler, in any sense. Who knows, I might even vote for him. However, in working with him for about two years on the Shoreline Advisory Committee, I never got a sense of his stance on anything. For Brian Bennett to say, “Joe is exactly the strong, progressive leader we need in Olympia. As Chair of the Burien Planning Commission, Joe has taken tough stands on complex, controversial issues….” — well, I saw nothing at all to support such a statement. As far as I can remember, Joe presented no original ideas or solutions to any of the problems we faced on the Committee. If he has progressive ideas or leadership skills, I would certainly be glad to see them. They haven’t surfaced so far.

    Hitlerian? Certainly not.

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  13. Pauline says:

    Hitlerian, Barbara? Really? I haven’t seen or heard of Joe Fitzgibbon ordering the execution of anyone. Do you actually have the audacity to compare the plight of 400 well-fed upper middle class homeowners who are protesting the development of a Shoreline Master Program to the Jews, Gypsies, mentally retarded, homosexuals and others who because of one monster’s twisted vision were herded into ghettos, tattooed, used as lab rats, starved, worked to death, gassed or gunned down and their bodies burned? No, you can’t mean that. That would demonstrate an ignorance and self-centerness that is beyond comprehension.

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  14. Mike says:

    I’ll admit it right here; I’m a democrat. How did that happen to someone who voted for Nixon twice, Reagan twice, Ford, GHW Bush once, Evans, Spellman, and Chandler. It happened because the Republican Party moved so far to the right that they abandoned me, left in what was the center and is now labeled as democrat. I still believe in fiscal responsibility, paying my fair share, moral responsibility of individuals and government, personal freedom as long as I play according to the rules, protecting the environment, entitlements that we paid for, and yes, even the much maligned by the right – social justice. This announcement of candidacy, along with what I have seen in the Planning Commission prompted me to reveal my political leaning only so that my opinion may be heard with some level of credibility, rather than as a simple dismissal of a person simply for their party affiliation. Actions I have witnessed in the planning commission process for the Shoreline Master Program Update seem substantially at odds with the guidelines put forth by the state for the purpose of updating the Shoreline Master Program. Despite countless attempts by the residents of the affected community to be actively involved in the process as mandated by the Department of Ecology WAC 173-26 Title document, with a purpose of producing a document that will not result in loss of property value or environmental function on the shoreline, and not result in loss of income to the city or draining of the city coffers in an effort to defend itself from likely indefensible positions, input or concerns from citizens numbering at least 400 have consistently been marginalized, ignored, mis-quoted in the public record in favor of the existing at-risk language, or off-handedly dismissed, at one particular point with a bit of a snicker from the commission about an issue that could end up costing people their life savings, some of whom are on fixed income. This is no way to treat constituents. This is no way to treat the city’s pocket book. This announcement makes me feel like the behavior of the commission leadership could be explained as all just aimed at grandstanding to chalk up another notch on a political resume at the expense of all the citizenry to some extent, and to some of the citizenry to a great extent, using us all as so many poker chips to get himself elected, regardless of the intent of state law. Mister Fitzgibbon will have to go a long way to convince this democrat that I should help grant him access to the state checkbook or a law making vote. It’s not about winning for the sake of winning. It’s about representing the people and respecting the intent of rules. I suggest Mr. Fitzgibbon should volunteer for more meaningful public service until he learns what it is all about, and then try again if he discovers that knowing and doing the right thing to the letter is what is important, regardless of political party affiliation, ideology, or personal ambition. Better to learn now by doing more homework than trying to fix a screw up of unintended and unexpected consequences created by a lack of experience. But then again, I could be wrong. I just don’t have time left in life to make casual mistakes with my vote, and that’s how I see this one.

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  15. Chris says:

    Sounds like Mr. Fitzgibbon’s campaign is off to a rocky start. And, it looks like he has some explaining to do regarding the Shoreline Master Program.

    What say you Mr. Fitzgibbons?

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  16. Maxine says:

    I hope we can agree that cheering or booing each speaker in a public forum is not the best way for our communty to succeed. Joe showed leadership and courage in standing up to this rude behavior, which are qualities that will make him an excellent state representative.

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  17. Julie D says:

    Lest we forget Mr. Fitzgibbons offered and chaired the effort to raise our taxes (for sidewalks) which was defeated by a resounding 77% of voters! He has the pulse on the everyday person Burien, boy!

    Unfortantely, if the democratic political machine is behind him they will probably deliver the votes by a combination of union scare tactics, promising things to the districts of White Center which can’t be delivered, and just not mentioning to the folks from West Seattle and Vashon that he went to Christian College (if the poster above is correct).

    Oh and playing a litte fast and loose on the paperwork to end up on the Shoreline Advisory Council (using mom’s address to indicate he represents residents of Three Tree Point) and then chairing the Planning Commission – which is supposed to crictically evaluate work of the first group – these are minor conflicts of interest.

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    • Carol says:

      Mr. Fitzgibbon still has a chance to prove us all wrong and redeem himself tonight at the Planning Commission meeting by acknowledging and honoring the petition from 400+ citizens requesting to be involved in the SMP while it is still with the Planning Commission. Instead of rushing this thing through without input from us he can grant our request to be involved and take the time to work with us rather than “at” us.
      If he really cares about the people that he wants to represent rather than just promoting his own polical career he can prove that tonight. Lets see what happens.

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  18. enquiring minds says:

    Where does Mr Fitzgibbons actually live?… on Ambaum?…or with his mother? Does he commute between the two addresses? Where he actually resides and what he states as his address, is important if they differ at all. This could be quite telling.

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  19. girthman says:

    Joe Fitzgibbon is inexperienced, a poor meeting facilitator (as witnessed at the recent SMP meeting), and the wrong person to represent Burien in 2011-2012. I encourage all of you to vote for a more qualified candidate come November.

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  20. TJ says:

    Of all those complaining, I’d like to know who has ever bothered to be on a city board or commission? The Planning Commission is a volunteer-run board. Cities are constantly looking for citizens to get off their sofas and volunteer, but nobody can be bothered.

    Quit your complaining. Call up the city and say you want to volunteer for a board or commission or something. But don’t whine because someone else does and then you don’t like the outcome. If it’s so important to you (and not only when it affects your parochial interests), then put words into deeds.

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  21. TJ says:

    PS: based on a recent poll, 38% of Republicans (and 20% of the overall population) believes that Obama is “doing many of the things that Hitler did.”

    So I guess by your complaining, Mr. Fitzgibbon is right up there with President Obama.

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  22. SD says:

    Looks like Mr. Fitzgibbon’s has updated his Linkedin page since yesterday. It still indicates Principia College ( ), however the reference regarding earning a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington (with an expected graduation in 2012) has been removed.

    For those who are interested, here’s a quick bio from Mr. Fitzgibbon’s Linkedin page:

    Joe Fitzgibbon’s Experience
    Planning Commissioner
    City of Burien
    (Government Agency; Government Administration industry)

    April 2008 — Present (2 years )

    Legislative Assistant
    Washington State House of Representatives
    (Government Agency; 201-500 employees; Legislative Office industry)

    December 2007 — Present (2 years 4 months)

    Legislative Intern
    King County Council
    (Government Agency; 51-200 employees; Legislative Office industry)

    August 2007 — December 2007 (5 months)


    Joe Fitzgibbon’s Education
    Principia College
    2003 — 2007

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  23. Ann says:

    All I need to know is that he is “progressive”…I will not be supporting him or anyone else who feels the need to take my hard earned money and give it to everyone else.

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  24. Julie D says:

    Intersting I did not see his bio or Linked In Page showing an “expected” masters degree or other education. Really, this should be in the press release from a respected campaign. I should not have to go to a social networking site to find out if he wants my vote.

    Regarding the potential bachelors degree, normally if someone has a degree it would be spelled out in the press release running for state leg., any typical bio from a journalistic source would say something like “BA, AA or MS etc” ….Not just where attended but, degree earned with designation and major. ”

    When I worked in HR for a short time, “attended” meant”didn’t graduate”. Not that it means that here. Simple enough to clarify.

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    • Julie D says:

      Just to clarify, I meant I should not have to go to a social networking site to research a candidate’s education and degrees. It should be in the press release.

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      • Sarah says:

        Not of the candidates have any educational history listed on their campaign websites.

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        • SD says:

          Here’s Sabra Schneider’s website ( ).

          Sabra’s educational information can be found via the Facebook link on her website.

          “Grad School: University of Washington
          MPA from Evans School of Public Affairs

          College: University of California, Santa Cruz
          Communications: Multimedia”

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        • SD says:

          Here’s Geoffrey “Mac” McElroy’s website:

          Mac’s educational information can be found via the “BIO” link on his website.

          “McElroy also holds a BS in business from Chapman University and graduated from the University of Washington’s Executive MBA program in 2003.”

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    • SD says:

      Julie, my apologies…I should have been clearer. When I checked Mr. Fitzgibbon’s Linkedin page on Monday, he had listed he was pursuing an MPA degree at the UW.

      “University of Washington: 2008 — 2012 (expected)
      MPA, Public Administration”

      The entire reference was removed yesterday, not just the reference that he expected to graduate in 2012 with an MPA.

      My guess is Mr. Fitzgibbon is no longer enrolled in the MPA program at the UW, so when he saw it referred in this post, he went in and updated his Linkedin page.

      I agree with you….given Mr. Fitzgibbon’s limited work experience, it would be useful to know his major and degree earned.

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  25. Bob says:

    Well now that we have pretty welll raked Joe over the coals lets see if we can find someone who can who can do a good job of representing our interests in Olympia. Someone who has,or had, a job outside the political arena and certainly for a period of more than three years. It would be nice to elect someone that owns a house and pays property taxes–someone that has a job that is in the public sector. Who among the candidates will serve us best?

    By the way I have attended several of the meetings that Joe chaired including the one with several hundred concerned citizens present — roughly a month ago. If some have taken offense at the use of “hitlerian” perhaps we should have left it up to Seinfeld and friends who would have simply called him a “Soup Nazi”

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    • Sarah says:

      Joe is a homeowner in Burien.

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      • Bob says:

        Sarah-Really?? This confuses me almost as much as his education.I think if I owned a home at his age,(how did he pull that off?),it would have been front and center on my Bio.

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        • Sarah says:

          He purchased his own home with his own savings almost 2 years ago. My point is why aren’t any of the other candidates being questioned about their education or home ownership status or how they purchased their homes? None of the other candidates make their home ownership status “front and center” issues in their campaigns. If you have questions for him just ask him.

          It”s funny to me to watch people here make hugely incorrect assumptions rather than just going to the source. Apparently based on his age alone people want to assume that he is inexperienced, uneducated and not a homeowner. What else are people assuming based on his age that is flatly wrong?

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  26. Bob says:

    OMG! I meant to say this morning that we need someone with work experience in the PRIVATE SECTOR.–!!That being said “Mac”is looking pretty good to me. I always found the Triangle to be a sensible place>Go Mac!

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