By Jack Mayne

Political activist Craig Keller has filed suit in King County Superior Court, demanding the Court order the Burien City Council to either put the city’s controversial sanctuary ordinance on the November election ballot or totally repeal it.

“The City should not be able to take no action and frustrate the right of citizens to either have their proposed initiative adopted or placed on the ballot at the next election, here, the election in November,”according to Keller’s suit, requesting a “writ of mandate,” which is legalese for a judicial command.

The Burien Council at a special July 31 session spent hours haggling over the repeal or placing the matter on the ballot. At that meeting, City Attorney Lisa Marshall attempted to inform Councilmembers that state law required it to either repeal the so-called Sanctuary ordinance or to ask King County Elections to place the proposal on the Nov. 7 general election ballot.

The Council did neither.

November 7 possible
Now Keller – a former Republican candidate for Congress and founder of a group called Respect Washington – wants a King County Superior Court judge to order the Burien City Council to repeal or place it on the ballot. Keller was also the organizer of the somewhat controversial petition drive to repeal the city’s “sanctuary” Ordinance 651.

City Manager Brian Wilson told The B-Town Blog on Wednesday (Aug. 2) that King County Elections likely would be able to still place the issue on the ballot, adding that there are a number of confusing and conflicting problems with the current law that would permit adding the issue after the Aug. 1 deadline.

Wilson said the “option to do nothing was considered by staff” but it was rejected on advice of City Attorney Lisa Marshall as well as “the potential legal exposure to the city.”

Keller, in his request for a writ of mandate filed by the Bellevue law firm of Stephens and Klinge, said the Council could not do “nothing.”

Keller admitted publicly on July 31 that – despite referencing his address as a Burien P.O. Box – that he is not a resident.

Same choices again
“An argument could be made that its failure to immediately cause the initiative to be placed on the ballot means that the city has committed to adopting the measure without alteration,” Keller’s legal complaint said. “Plaintiff (Keller) does not take such an aggressive stance, but believes the City still has the opportunity to make a choice even though it has violated the law with its current delay.

“However, the requested writ of mandate unfortunately is necessary for the city to make a choice.”

“The City should not be able to take no action and frustrate the right of citizens to either have their proposed initiative adopted (ordinance repealed) or placed on the ballot at the next election, here, the election in November.”

Keller asks for a quick order due to time restraints.

The choices are the same as the Council faced last week – put the matter on the November ballot or repeal it entirely, a matter than tied the Council in knots with tempers flaring at times and their special session ending with no action taken.

Download a PDF of the lawsuit here.

Senior Reporter Jack Mayne passed away in December, 2021. In his honor we have created the Jack Mayne Journalism Scholarship.

50 replies on “Political activist files suit to force City Council to deal with ‘sanctuary ordinance’”

  1. Personally, I don’t people like Craig Keller in Burien dictating what my city council will do. He is not a resident and I do not appreciate his interference in our election and our political business. The overwhelming amount of speakers at the council meeting want to keep the ordinance. My wife, who is Honduran, was told my a signature gatherer that if she didn’t sign it was probably proof she was an “illegal”. Burien is my community not Craig Keller’s.

    He is a divisive person and has already ripped this community apart. I am hoping that none of the candidates receive any money from Respect Washington because then they will be part of the problem.

    1. Actually, the crime by illegals is what is ripping the community apart – and the BLATANT criminal refusal by Burien City Council to abide by the law.

        1. That’s quite an interesting way to look at it. All “illegal” immigrants have broken at least one law which is criminal by violation of an international border.

  2. I don’t really know why what goes on in Burien is any of Mr. Keller’s business since he doesn’t reside here, work here, vote here or pay taxes here.

  3. Funny, now an outside resident dictates what the city should do it seems an issue. When the ordinance was adopting 90% of the people speaking in favor of it (or the paid protesters) where outside of the city. Even Berkowitz moved one block into the city just before being elected.

    The bottom line is the City Council will need to act in order to uphold the Constitution and respect our democracy…

    1. Mr. Keller’s organization may have created the petition, but he did not sign it. It was signed by over three thousand Burien voters. The street theatre that now masquerades as a session of the Burien City Council should not be confused with the will of the people who live in Burien. The voters of Burien elected the council with the expectation that the city would be run responsibly and lawfully. We are fortunate that Mr. Keller is pursuing this issue for the thousands of Burien voters who want to change the sanctuary policy. The alternative is to surrender our city to those who threatened “No Sanctuary .. No Peace!” at last Monday’s meeting. The election this November will be our opportunity to replace the current majority with those who understand the needs of our community.

      1. This petition FAILED to gather the requisite number of signatures when first turned in due to a 24% fraudulent signatures. They were duplicates, illegible, not voters and other situations. That should have been the end of it but they were given another 10 days. End of those 10 days – they ended up with only 5 signatures over the required number. 3 of those signatories testified about strong armed, misleading, and harassment received from the signature gatherers and wanted to rescind their signatures- it is not a stretch to believe there are more that would do the same and invalidate this initiative.

        It was not clear that you can indeed rescind your signature and that there is a time limit. There was also a time limit to be met to invalidate the petition for the threatening acts of the signature gatherers and other bad acts.

        Further after an in person meeting with King County Elections head Wise – it was learned that the City of Burien has “antiquated” ordinances on the books regarding petitions. 1 dictates that our city clerk reviews signatures- which is contrary to the law – this is solely the purview of KCE who will NEVER release that information. Burien also references a different RCW than any other municipality in King County and is wrong.

        It was right for council members to investigate this and delay a vote. However those Council members WHO SIGNED the petition acted against that action. CONFLICT OF INTEREST?? I’d say clearly so.

        Bad person at the helm of this petition who DOES NOT live in Burien, employed PAID signature gatherers- who based on the testimony of many Burien residents – harassed, threatened, and outright lied about the initiative.

        Bad in every aspect.

        Please – as soon as you get your ballot in October – vote to retain ordinance 651 – to prevent a Religious Registry taking place in Burien- and prevent any city staff or Burien police officer from asking ANY citizen of Burien from being asked their immigration status. I know they would NEVER ask this white woman that question- but they would ask my friends who have brown skin and accents. Clear discrimination.

        And please let’s not vote for those City Council members who signed the bad petition then did not exclude themselves from the clear conflict of interest of participating in the decision making regarding the future of this bad initiative.

  4. Where is the outrage from the ones who scream about outside influence coming into are city? Oh yeah as long as it follows their addenda it’s ok, typical hypocrites.

    1. Keller isn’t running for City Office – big difference. Respect Washington exists for all of its citizens – including Burien. Respect Washington is the organization that fought to give the citizens of Burien a voice by voting for repeal on the ballot.

      Don’t fear the vote!!

  5. As a LEGAL immigrant who waited MANY years to come to this GREAT country, I find it highly offensive to not let citizens vote on this sanctuary city status initiative.

    Sanctuary cities have far higher crime rates than non sanctuary cities all across this country. Isn’t it ironic that while the Burien city council argued about this matter, a woman was being raped by an illegal alien in a Burien apartment complex.

    Let the people decide if the want to live with CRIMINAL illegal aliens or not.

    1. Some facts:
      Sanctuary cities are safer than other cities.

      Being an undocumented immigrant is a CIVIL issue, not a criminal one.

    2. As a LEGAL immigrant who waited MANY years to come to this GREAT country too, I find it highly offensive “Burinal Dumas” and immigrant that went to that process and says he is against a santuary city.

      Immigration law is so outdated, congress hasn’t touch the immigration law for 20+ years because it is a “too hot issue” and loosing of votes is to dangerous fro both parties.

      Sanctuary City status allows our Burien Police to act as a Burien Police and protect our citizens, Burien Police doesn’t have the training and knowledge of the complicated (and antiquated) immigration law to be doing the work of an immigration agent.

      Sanctuary city doesn’t mean that delinquents will be protected of crimes, who ever thinks that is a total ignorant and should give an opinion until you don’t get all the facts.

      1. King County Sheriff’s office already had the policy, no need for Burien to get involved.

      2. I doubt someone with the last name of Gonzalez can have an objective opinion on the subject of illegal immigration in the US.

        Illegal immigration hurts everyone involved. Our school systems become overcrowded & underfunded. Wages fall due to cheap labors competition. Drug trafficking increases. Crime goes up due to more low income people moving into already low income areas (Burien).

        Maybe all of the illegal immigrant activists could be more productive if they stopped telling American citizens how we should run our country & go back home & try to change their own country for the better, so that their next generation won’t need to cross another country’s borders illegally for a better life.

    3. The Burien ordinance would not protect a criminal. They would be checked out and arrested and jailed for committing a crime. Don’t mislead our citizens.

      What about the nearly 50 rapes that occurred during the same time this young woman was brutally attacked? Those were just as bad for those victims too. We weren’t protected from those either – committed by citizens.

      Where is your outrage for these victims too?

      Stop cherry picking crimes at the detriment of all the other rape victims to justify your racist beliefs.

      Unless you are a Native American YOU are also an immigrant. Stop smearing the great immigrants in our midst – some here for generations, who are business owners, and fully invested in our community- we are better than that

  6. If you did care what your council did Andy and Maenad, you’d ask them to follow the law and act on the bill.

  7. Citizen

    OK, Keller’s move is controversial. I don’t like it either, but he is within his rights. At least we’ll get some action, unlike our indecisive elected council that has opened us all up to a potential lawsuit. Do you realize who pays the lawyers? And who,wins in courts? Answer, the attorneys.

    Sorry to seem so negative. However, look we’ve allowed the illegal immigrants issue separate us. Not good. There are thousands of people wanting to become U.S. citizens that do so through legal means. Yes, it I
    Takes time and

  8. If our city council had done its job, Mr. Keller wouldn’t have had an opening to get involved.

  9. The city council had two options: accept the signatures of Burien residents, and rescind the sanctuary status: put it to the voters and let the voters decide. The council did neither and essentially thumbed their noses at the citizens that elected them. They acted cowardly and against the RCW.

    The citizens of Burien deserve better from their council.

    Whether or not you support the sanctuary city status, at least let the voters/citizens decide rather than a council, that apparently, is out of touch with the residents of Burien

  10. I appreciate Debi Wagner supporting a vote on this.
    All Berkowitz accomplished was more legal expenses for the taxpayer.

    Please, only professionals from now on should serve on the council . These activists are becoming like spoiled teenagers .

    1. I agree.. The sooner this activist who continually wastes the councils time on her personal agendas which take priority over whats best for the city is off the council the better.

  11. Hi Biurinal: I admire you and all legal immigrants and naturalized citizens. Most of us would not be here if someone in our ancestry did not go through this arduous process.
    I also have no objection to allowing the citizens to vote on the issue although councilpersons who stick to their original decision to keep Burien a sanctuary city should be candidates for the Profiles in Courage award.
    The fact is that sanctuary cities indeed have lower crine rates than non sanctuary cities. Some riight wing jingoist publications have said otherwise but they are dead wrong..
    why Burinal do you think law enforcement prefers the sanctuary city? Because they get better information to identify crimes and perpetrators. Better information equals greater opportunity to investigate and orosecute criminals leading to lower crime rates. Tom

  12. This guy is a republican operative with marching orders from the Sessions DOJ.
    Put it on the ballot or don’t put it on the ballot but I don’t like being extorted for fairness to residents by someone with a fascist agenda who does not even live here!.

  13. The real Problem is Washington is not Washington no more the beautiful diversity has not ruined the foundation our elders laid but the people themselves have you me and everyone who’s done nothing to stop this until the bad thoughts in the back of our minds are right in our face and at our front door. This is not how our ancestors delt with treason and they themselves were of foreign blood to this soil.

  14. For those who are delusional about this, and supposedly want law and order:

    Texas Police Say “Show Me Your Papers” Law Is Damaging Public Safety — Before Even Taking Effect
    Thanks to SB4, which lets police check the immigration status of anyone they detain, residents are “afraid to call us or be witnesses to crimes,” a Houston officer says.

    This is why the King Co. Police have their policy, and why cities pass ordinances that resist being a puppet for incompetent, unfunded, and willffully ignorant Federal officials and policies and those who support them.

    1. DS
      Thanks for pointing out how trump and co are packing the privately run prison industry with tenants for relatively minor offenses like being undocumented or possessing a small amount of pot. What a waste of taxpayer’s money and what a good investment for the prison industry support of donald.

      1. You might want to research the criminal history of the Federal Prisoners before getting too giddy.

        1. You might want to research the news on Core Civc (Corrections Corporation of America) as a private contractor pushing the Feds for more prisoners so they can make more money.

          Here, I will get you started:
          “…CCA and other prison companies have written “occupancy guarantees” into their contracts, requiring states to pay a fee if they cannot provide a certain number of inmates. Winn Correctional Center was guaranteed to be 96 percent full….”

    2. Riiight David. The rightist Washington Examiner says 90%. This is , as our peerless leader says in His Own Private Tweetland , Fake News. The U.S. Bureau of prisons has a somewhat lower number – like much lower.. Even lower than yours. Much lower.
      Ah xenophobia, we hardly know ye. Tom

      1. You should remember that 1/3rd of murders are unsolved (most will never be solved) and that is just murder. Add in rape, burglary, and every other crime and you have no idea what illegal aliens are doing in a Sanctuary City like Burien.

        When Mexicans commit major crimes – THEY FLEE TO MEXICO and you will never even know they were here.

        1. FYI, that 1/3rd of murders are unsolved is a really good argument for always murdering the witnesses. Especially in a non-death penalty state or sanctuary city where no one knows who you are.

  15. He’ll loose quickly – He doesn’t express that he’s injured. A suit without injury is frivolous, unless it’s a Declaratory suit. This isn’t a suit for Declaratory Judgement.

    STEPHENS & KLINGE know this!

    This is just fodder for public entertainment to give the impression that everything was done and that the matter was settled.

  16. I’ll be surprised if any King County Superior Court judge rules that Keller has standing to sue, and if City Attorney Lisa Marshall, whose job it is to defend Burien against this suit, doesn’t cite Keller’s lack of standing in her defense, Burien needs to replace her.

    1. If US Citizens want to be permanent residents of Mexico they have to bring money and proof of income or special skills based on a points system.


      Here are the requirements to be a citizen of Mexico:

      The Mexican Constitution states that Mexicans Citizens by birth are:

      1. persons born in Mexican territory regardless of parents’ nationality or immigration status in Mexico
      2. persons born abroad of a Mexican Citizen born in Mexico
      3. persons born to an individual after that person has become a naturalized citizen of Mexico
      4. individuals born on Mexican merchant- or Navy ships or Mexican-registered aircraft, regardless of parents’ nationality
      5. children born to Mexican Diplomats or Ministry of Foreign Affairs Personnel working overseas (

      1. Have you looked at Canada’s requirements even to visit. If you have a DUI or even some simple traffic tickets you can get denied entry.

        Also illegal aliens don’t just come from Mexico.

  17. Im against illegal immigration and sanctuary cities but akso against this dude Keller, who doesn’t even live here. We as a nation are all culpable on this issue for we all avoided talking about it for decades as undocumenteds reached the millions and had families and we have no solutions even now. We are going to have to just suck it up and make them citizens with penalties, then find a remedy for those who did it legally, all the while fixing a system for future occurances of those coming to the country illegally or overstaying their visa, etc. There’s got to be a middle way, because open borders won’t suffice— we have to have laws and have them be abided by. So samruary cities just makes things worse in the long run, as do people like Keller.

    1. Respect Washington represents the entire state. Immigration law covers the entire country as well.

  18. Also, I love the fact one person cited the Intercept, and another person cited the Daily Caller! Lol. One biased to the Left, the other biased to the Right! Haha.

  19. I do hope the council will check signatures on those petitions before acting, There were irregularities. The person who asked me after learning that I was a resident asked for my name. I think he planned to add it although I refused to sign. Unlike Keller, I am a Burien resident and that we are a Sanctuary City was one of the reasons we chose to move here.

  20. We’re all immigrants from somewhere, well almost all. My family roots for example, are from England but we lost our accent about 400 years ago.

    While standing in line at a Phoenix, Arizona grocery store recently a nicely dressed woman waiting in line was talking on her cell phone in a “foreign language”. The man behind her in line barked at her rudely and angrily “Why don’t you speak our native language?”

    The woman turned slowly to the man and said, “I am speaking our native language, I am American Indian, where are you from?”

    We are strong because of our diversity. Just sayin’.

  21. Nice try Brett. Not sure you added much.

    You may well be correct, but I did not immigrate to the US, I was born asa a US citizen in Albuquerque, NM. I still can’t spell that city.

    What does your comment have to do with the thread?

    1. Scott,
      My comment is merely an underlayment to the discussion. When I was a child growing up here, Russian immigrants were the influx, Caucasian but foreigners. I do not disagree with immigrants having to go through a proper process. I also agree that felony illegal immigrant criminals should be immediately thrown out.

      I have visited many countries where my “papers” had to be in “order” but I wasn’t harassed, ever, not even in Shanghai, China. There was rare evidence of suspicion of strangers. Mostly they were welcoming, curious, courteous and helpful. Many even wanted to take “selfies” with my family.

      My concern is that rounding up “illegals seeking sanctuary” has morphed badly. The situation in parts of Arizona come to mind where ultra white conservative views have people even picking on each other when other cultures aren’t present.

      A man at a fast food restaurant started confronting 2 nicely dressed young couples enjoying their meal. He challenged them for their ethnicity, where they live, and finally for their papers. They were well educated Latinos. That was …. ?!

      I came back very tanned from 6 weeks in Arizona and was immediately asked/challenged where I am from with a certain suspicious tone. That got my attention that there is more to this than exporting “illegal aliens”.

      Voting on becoming a Sanctuary City is a thermometer of our tolerance for others, felony illegals aside. Too many too fast is perhaps upsetting our sense of culture.

      1. I’ve been ethnically harassed in the interior of China – no kidding. Ethnocentric behavior is just the norm worldwide. It doesn’t mean the world is coming to an end.

  22. Ok so how this Keller guy thinks that one or two horrible crimes committed by a illgel alien makes them all crimanls. So basically if Mr Keller was related to a sexual predator then he must be a sexual predator himself right.

    Or because someone doesn’t follow simple steps to not becoming a victim. Then becomes a victim. We are suppose to feel it’s all on the illgel alien.

    In this country we have simple legal things you do to not become a victim. But some people just don’t listen. Unfortunately this girl in the case made a wrong choice. The illgel alien unfortunately seen a option to attack. Yes it is wrong what he did of course.

  23. I’ve meet this Keller guy, when he was out collecting signatures, In front of Trader Joe,s. He does seem like a divisive person. When I told him I did not want to sign it. He started to give me the low down on illegal immigrants. How they were all criminals and low lives. We need to take in effect that most Mexicans are here legally, with green cards to in Washington state to pick are crops, apples. cherries, and vegetables. Without them your apple, at Trader Joe,s will cost $1.29 cents rather them $.69 cents. Because there will be no one to work the 100,s of field,s. Next- all our ancestors, were immigrants at one time or another. My ancestors came from Denmark and Germany. We would not even be here and they not been allowed in to are country, cities, and towns all over this great country.

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