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LETTER: Resident shares experiences meeting four City Council candidates

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It is their opinion only, and it does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]

To the editor and the city of Burien,

Burien is lucky to be a small enough community that we have opportunities to meet our elected officials. We see them at events, at the Farmer’s Market, at the library. With our ballots due on Tuesday, many people have already made up their mind on our city council candidates. But whether your mind is made up or not, I want to tell you about the interactions I’ve had with four great individuals who are running for this office. I am writing about these four because I know them, I have had chances to interact with them, and I am giving them my vote.

But I would love someone to write a similar piece for the other four. All of our candidates give to the community through their volunteer work, their families and their friendships. All of them have given up their free time and have become public figures in the process of running for office. Please, community members, jump in and tell the stories of Burien Proud candidates.

My favorite Nancy Tosta story: Our son’s class gave a presentation on homelessness to some city employees, and Nancy made time to attend. The next day, she happened to meet our son at the library. Nancy took time out of her day to ask him follow up questions and get his opinion on this topic. She treated him as a valued adviser and as an adult. Nancy didn’t know that he would come home and gush about this interaction to his parents. She didn’t know how happy it would make him to be listened to as an equal by someone important in the city. That wasn’t why she did it; she did it because she wants to listen.

I have seen Jimmy Matta at events but didn’t put together that he was ‘the Jimmy who was running for council’ until we attended a meeting at Highline HS at the end of last school year. Kids, parents and community members were meeting with the school to figure out how the district should proceed in discussing bullying, race, LGBTQ issues, free speech and other subjects adults, let alone kids, struggle with. Jimmy participated in the various breakout discussions. But at the end of the night, he pulled us all back to reality by asking us all to think what we could do to keep kids safe over the summer, because none of these conversations would matter till fall. I felt like Jimmy wanted to wrap a big blanket of safety over everyone, but he knew that no one has that power alone. He called on everyone to do a bit of it.

My Krystal Marx moment was taking a workshop she offered on Bystander Intervention. She walked us through how to safely step up from bystander to ally when someone is being harassed or bullied. A few months later I saw her use this skill in person, standing up to a bully in a the most loving and non-threatening way. I have since seen her do the same thing verbally on a number of occasions, replying with love and truth when challenged by anger.

My first strong impression of Pedro Olguin was at the city council meeting when he led a group of citizens in speaking out against Craig Keller and the agenda he was delivering to Burien. I had never heard of Keller, and at the time I thought Pedro was overreacting, getting us worked up to show our strength. I spoke that night, but I didn’t shout; I sat with my hands folded, wishing this could be settled through civil discourse. I look back on that night and see a very different picture – Pedro out ahead of most of the community in seeing where this was going, knowing that if he spoke out, others would follow.

When I look at these four stories I see a picture of these candidates. They are eager to engage the community and draw on what’s best in all of us to solve the problems that face us. They aren’t there to singlehandedly fix things for us – they know that’s not possible. It’s a nice promise but it’s not a real world solution. They admit that the world is messy and complex and it will take multiple points of view to navigate Burien to where it wants to be next. I find this approach to be realistic, honest and hopeful.

Whoever you vote for, and whoever our community chooses, we are all one city and we need to look each other in the eye and work together. I am choosing leaders who show the potential to do this.

– Sarah Moore

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