By Jack Mayne
Two former Burien women mayors attended Monday night’s (Mar. 1, 2021) City Council session that unanimously named March as Women’s History Month.
Former Mayors Kitty Milne and Sally Nelson virtually attended the meeting.
Other former women Burien Mayors include Joan McGilton, who passed away in 2017, and Lucy Krakowiak, whose lost her re-election bid in 2019.
Deputy Mayor Krystal Marx and Councilmember Sofia Aragon jointly presented the proclamation which told of the history of women in Burien politics.
“Whereas, women of every race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, national origin, immigration status, and socioeconomic background continue to make historic contributions to the growth and strength of our community.”
Aragon said since incorporation of the city in 1993, “women have held 46 percent of Council positions and 65 percent of deputy mayor positions almost half of Burien mayors have been women.”
Aragon added that women comprise a majority of Burien’s population and “a significant portion of the labor force making countless contributions of our community across every facet of life.”
Here’s video of the proclamation:
Nelson helped lead incorporation
Sally Nelson helped lead the effort to incorporate Burien and was elected as a charter member of the Burien City Council. She was the city’s first deputy mayor, and later served two years as mayor.
“When we were an interim city and when we were subsequently a city council officially, we were quite unique because women were rarely a majority. As I look around and see four women on the Council, I am grateful for that, I am grateful for the history that included in a very important and very distinguished way. We tried five times to become a city and failed.”
Nelson said she remembers having eight opponents – “very exciting times.”
In those times, she said, “There was no main street, there were no businesses, most were shuttered and dark. In Olde Burien, there was one vibrant business, that was a feed store. Southcenter sucked out the economic wind for us. So when we incorporated and became a city, we certainly wanted to create a downtown.”
How dare you
Milne is remembered for asking “how dare Ron Sims and Greg Nickels threaten Burien and try to tell them how to run their city.” One of the reasons for Burien incorporation “was because King County (Ron Sims and Greg Nickels) was allowing increasingly large numbers of low-income, high-density, multi-family apartments to be built in the city.
“So many that now Burien has an 81 percent low-income apartment rental rate compared to 46 percent in the rest of the County.”
Milne told the Council Monday night she “was the first woman deputy mayor and the first woman mayor. I am proud of that.” She said “we all stood on the foundations of great women of Burien before us … and regardless of what you weather you have a career or a family or who you are, that you can participate and be part of making things happen.”