LETTER (w/videos): ‘So Why the Push for Districts/Wards?’

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At the last city council meeting 02/25, citizens voiced their strong opposition to this plan for wards. Video of your neighbors and their testimony have been compiled and can be viewed below:

Former Burien Mayor Sally Nelson:

Mark Ufkes:

Roger DeLorm:

Chuck Rangel:


Councilmembers Robison, Clark, McGilton and Bennett did their best to pitch creating districts/wards in the City of Burien at this last council meeting? Why?

Currently Burien elects its council members by a city wide election. Anyone in the city can run for any council position and all of the citizens vote across the city for council members. It is an open field to all. At this last council meeting, four council members pushed very hard to change that system. The major spokesperson for that change was Jerry Robison. He claims that the reason no one has run for a council position from the northeast corner of the city is because;

1. They are too poor and can’t raise the campaign funds, 2. they don’t know how to run a campaign, 3. no one mentors them and, 4. new people can’t get elected against an incumbent council member. According to him and the three other council members, the northeast corner of the city does not get heard and is greatly neglected.

However it appears that Mr. Robison’s and the three other council members comments about inequity in council elections are without merit and are just excuses they are using to create wards or seats to get their preferred candidates on the council. Their arguments are full of hot air and here are examples of why I say this.

People from the northeast corner of the city can raise money for a campaign. In the last election, a candidate from the northeast corner of the city raised $15,000, had two campaign managers and had the support and mentorship of five of the council members. These five council members supported and held a barbeque for this candidate, donated money to his campaign, endorsed this candidate in the media and mentored him. In spite of all of their work, he still lost the election because of positions on certain issues and his attitude at public forums. He had the second largest amount of campaign funds of any candidate running. It appears that four of these council members are looking to create a ward in this northeast corner of the city for this specific candidate in the next election. Districting will guarantee him a council seat.

People from the northeast corner of the city do know how to run a campaign. That candidate from the northeast corner of the city hired two campaign managers, someone to set up a very slick web page for donations, put money into signs and mailers and made a very expensive video about himself. He got big money donors to do in-kind work for him and to run phone banks. These people coached him well in the techniques of campaigning.

People from the northeast corner do have mentors. This candidate had the support and mentorship of five council members for his campaign. He also had the support of several unions and the Master Builders Association.

New people can get elected against an incumbent council person. Another man who ran for the council during this same election cycle ran against the best funded and most incumbent candidate on the council. This man spent less than $5,000 on his campaign, was unknown and still won. He won against an incumbent council member who spent close to $15,000 on his campaign. The new guy on the scene won because of his position on the issues of concern for the citizens and he door-belled his feet off. I got 46% of the vote on $113.00. So it is not the money or the area of the city that is the issue in who wins in council seat elections.

The Burien Comprehensive Plan has a provision for Neighborhood Plans so that areas of the city can have their concerns heard without creating wards/districts. However, Mr. Robison has said he is opposed to Neighborhood Plans because he doesn’t want neighbors to create coalitions (his plan for wards/districts will do this) and he doesn’t want them to bring their concerns and desires before the council. He has stated that he doesn’t like to listen to citizen comments. It is no small wonder that citizens from the northeast corner of the city rarely tell the city what they want. They are clearly unwelcome by certain council members. Neighborhood Plans are less costly and politically divisive than creating wards/districts in the city. So why not follow the Comprehensive Plan for Neighborhood Plans? Or the correct city survey questions?

So why the push for districts/wards? Clearly there are four council members who have identified people they want elected to the council and they haven’t been successful at getting them elected by the current means. So they are going to create districts/wards to get their chosen candidates into office. That is what the term gerrymandering is all about and these four council members are bound and determined to do it in Burien without a vote of the citizens. The people of Burien deserve better than this plan. Call and explain your concerns to these council members about their ward/district plan. Burien City council email · City Council Burien <[email protected]> Council phone no. 206-241-4647. Mike Martin said at the last council meeting that this topic will need to be on the agenda every meeting for it to get through. So it is important for everyone concerned about this plan to please attend the next council meetings and voice your opposition to districting.

– Debi Wagner

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24 Responses to “LETTER (w/videos): ‘So Why the Push for Districts/Wards?’”
  1. JJ Greive says:

    We need representation to care about the neighborhoods they live in. Being elected at large serves no one but the wealthy group that live in the very small part of our town.

    • Ghost of Maplewild says:

      What area might that be JJ?

    • Linda says:

      Democracy is served by being allowed to vote for ANYONE that lives in the city of Burien, your claim does not hold any water JJ>

      You were on this blog continuously preaching we needed Annexation JJ.

      It certainly seems like you always come out in opposition to what is best for the city of Burien but benefits your cronies on the council.

      • Coverofnight says:

        After 21 comments, it’s time to jump in…..

        Once again, Debi is to be commended for an excellent letter and keeping this issue in the forefront – this council, and its seemingly corrupt shenanigans, is NOT to be trusted!

        Unless I’ve missed it, I hope that Scott puts up an informal poll on this issue, too.

        As for Linda’s comment – it’s the best of the bunch; simple and straightforward.

        And from my Tea Party kopje here in liberal Burien, I’m calling out Joey Moretaxes now on this issue (as he’s running for office) – where do you stand Joey, on this plan for Districts/Wards? The voting citizenry wants to know!

  2. Fred says:

    The father of J.J.Greive was deeply involved in politics in West Seattle. J.J.Greive lives in that northeast corner of the City of Burien. J.J.Greive and his wife Susanne Greive know the political system well. They ran Jerry Robison’s campaign. J.J., Susanne and Jerry Robison know how to run very cheap campaigns. They found Jerry Robison the cheapest non union sign maker in the U.S.A. for Jerry’s campaign. So the claim that no one knows how to run a campaign, get funds for a campaign or is available to mentor someone in the northeast corner is pure horse puckey. J.J. Grieve knows that and he is really about cronyism. What The Grieves and the four City Council members( Bennett, Clark, Robison, Bennett) are doing with this thing of wards/districts is trying to make sure they keep their current council positions or making sure that they and their friends get into office in this next election to retain control of the Council and make sure Mike Martin keeps his job. Their reasons for wanting wards is not about the people of Burien, representation or what is best for the city.

    A special “SHAME ON YOU” goes out to Brian Bennett/Burien mayor. He is a man who went to the Ukraine on an intership to show those people how democracy should work. Now he is willing to deny the people in his own city a democratic vote on this issue of wards/disrticts or better still he should not even consider wards which are known to be highly undemocratic. Not a nice legacy to be leaving to his children. A big cow pie goes out to Brian Bennett.

    • May says:

      I told everyone that Bennett is a “wolf in sheeps clothing”.

      Boy oh boy…when I saw Robison on video at the last meeting…I thought that “foam” will be coming out of his mouth. This man is the biggest creep that ever existed. The intimate walks he had with Michael Noakes really worked. Mr, Robison got more then brainwashed, he got brain whipped.

      I hope that some of you can reallys see now what this is all about. These people want to stay in office no matter what it takes. Its all about millions and millions of dollars and development and construction.

      I am saying this again, asking these people for anything goes in one ear and out the other…they are not interested. They are there with their friends and will run this council however they like. They are going to change the voting in Burien just like they wanted to annex highline.They are backstabbers and need to be removed.

      Calling these people…”.honorable council” makes me want to puke

      This council is such a humiliation to the City of Burien.

    • jimmy says:

      wow nice attack john opps sorry i mean “fred” what does it matter if J.J.Greive help run a campain just becuse he might have a differfeance of opions than what you have you want to try attack them here we go this some one might not agree with you so have to attack it realy nice of you it realy help show how some people are here in burien for other people to see that might want to do bussness here or live here but o well that just the type of person you are instead of letting people come up with opinons you try to force yours on them as if the city is trying to damage it self with anything and every thing they think of doing they try to hire some new people you complain they try bring art to the area you complain cares does somthing good you try to complain the city try to grow you complain but if they try to annex normady park instead white center i bet wouldent complain as much it just seem like you like you 7 like to complain no matter what issue is unless if its some how putting money in your pocket

  3. Citizen says:

    Say what…we lost White Center…now we want to help the poor people more access to our club…????

  4. J. Johnson says:

    So let me see if I understand what Debi is saying. A person who lives in the NE section of Burien spent a butt load of money to run for office and was beat by a candidate who spent almost nothing but had the support of the Lake Burien people. And, an incumbent who does not live on the lake was beat by a new candidate who spent almost nothing and lives on the lake.
    Sounds to me like the rich white folk on the lake control the vote.
    Thank you Debi for opening my eyes and seeing that we need district representation or no one but lake people will ever get elected to office.

    • Debi Wagner says:

      J Johnson or JJ for short…You really didn’t get it? The point isn’t how much you spend, it isn’t where you live, it isn’t race, it’s the issues that matter. The majority of people preferred someone who would represent citizens and not their own self serving interests. You are upset because the people have seen right through most of the malicious shenanigans of some council members and their friends. You cannot do just anything you want to take away democracy, the vote, our rights, our quality of life, our resources and squander them on schemes to benefit yourself and developer friends without intelligent people scrutinizing your moves. I understand your hurt, I’ve seen it before in the eyes of children who have their toys taken away. Jerry’s justification for districting is based on false, misleading arguements that people have again, seen right through.

    • Ghost of Maplewild says:

      “Rich white folk”.
      Mayor Benett is one of rich white folk living on the lake.

    • John Poitras says:

      J Johnson or whatever your name really is the argument you are making is nutty. It takes more than just one neighborhood to vote in or vote out a council person. Obviously it so happened that someone who lives near the lake got elected because he was against annexation and he was running against someone that was. Did you know that Joan McGilton lives in three tree point and that Brian Bennett lives on the lake??
      The elephant in the living room you omitted is in effect you are trying to pit one part of Burien against another rather than working together in the best interests of the city as a whole. That seems rather counterproductive to me . Do you even live in Burien?
      The other people you are talking about don’t even live on the lake. So apparently you are just another attack and distract crony doing the bidding of Robison and Shaw.

      How about actually responding to the topic under discussion instead of trolling around looking to attack people that are against perpetrating the cronyism we already have too much of on the council.
      Something smells like NHUAC to me from your post. And please try not to ruin our blog by flaming people just because you have a bone to pick with the folks that opposed annexation.

  5. John Poitras says:

    Excellent Post Debi!

    You have spelled it out quite succinctly.. There is nowhere for Mr Robison and his cronies to hide on this one. If this political flim flam is approved, it seems pretty obvious we need to petition the state to change to a mayoral style of government.

    • TcB says:

      No change to Mayoral style needed. You already agreed that it wasn’t needed. Stop flogging a dead horse.

  6. Ghost of Maplewild says:

    Your obsession with Lake Burien is becoming disturbing. Is this the ONE item you think we should be focusing on in our city? Really?

  7. Ghost of Maplewild says:

    We have the Mayor, a member of the council majority and Mr. Edgar a member of the council minority both living on the lake. So your point is?

  8. May says:

    Thank you Mark Ufkes. Thank you for speaking up to this corrupt council. I hope you speak again and again to these self serving individuals.

    ………………….”.I asked Greg Duff about the article and he laughed and pointed out several inaccuracies in your article”


    I just read on ths site that Greg goes to church and is an elder?………what kind of a joke is that? …..and he does not say anything about the corruption on this council?
    Where is it that he is sticking up for the people?….I did not see him in front of this council talking into the microphone.

    You J.Johnson don’t have to worry because more truth will come out. This is just the beginning.

    • Shari says:

      “I just read on ths site that Greg goes to church and is an elder?………what kind of a joke is that?”

      Really, May?

  9. TcB says:

    If this is being looked at, we should understand the concepts better. It looks like SMP is better for minority inclusiveness, but worse for Gerrymandering possibility, than CAP, pretty much the reverse score. Constituent connection gets a better score in SMP than CAP. NEighborhood vs city balance is the same (both negative 2). Voter participation falls a little in SMP vs CAP. Voter choice also falls considerably in SMP vs CAP. If our current system does indeed follow the CAP description, it scores generally better than SMP.

    • Shari says:

      Thanks. This is really, really helpful information. Appreciate your uncovering and sharing it. (I would love to see some of the local students dig into this topic as a class project and be invited to share what they learned at a Council meeting and make their own recommendation. Our kids would get civically engaged on a top of current importance and widespread interest and would be put in a position to help the rest of us become better informed).

  10. By Stander says:

    In reading the above comments it is plain that any one that disagrees with Debie and John have a personal object in mind and are trying to run Burien. Well it would seem to me that their attitude is that their personal interests don’t exist but any one against their thinking does. As for a Mayor type of government I don’t see any improvement for Burien because all a Mayor type government would do is put a high paid official in charge of hiring a lot of other people to do the job. Do you really think that a Mayor type government would be of help. Look at the towns that have that type of government and you will see that city government costs go up. The Mayor would be busy shaking hands and kissing babies to do much of the actual work so he or she would have to hire some one else to get it done. All the Mayor type government would do is add more people to the pay roll to get the same job done as is being done now. Also you seem to assume that an elected Mayor would be one of your people… Where would you be if an elected Mayor favored your opposition. It could happen if the East side of Burien got off their rears and voted. Also it appears that you do not want a city council that thinks ahead but thinks slowly. You want one that reacts to problems and does not act ahead on problems. Good Luck.

    • Linda says:

      By Stander .. I read your post.. It does not make much sense unless you understand that you are trying to find reasons to support the current cronyism on the city council without coming out and saying you support the pro annexation pro cronyism members that are coming up for re-election this year. You also apparently think Mike Martin is doing a great job as unelected mayor but you have to dig beneath your rhetoric to understand that. Apparently you don’t want to acknowledge you are one of his supporters.
      Also your entire diatribe on mayoral systems which the vast majority of cities have in place is really laughable.. Spend their time kissing babies? LOL .
      At least they are accountable to the voters unlike what we have now. And if this ward scheme goes thru Mr Martin will be even harder to remove.

  11. This thread has been closed by the Editor due to uncivil commenting.