Compiled by Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
- Louisa Hotel on King Street near Seventh Avenue reopened in June as an 85-room apartment building. The 110-year-old building survived not only the city’s building boom, but tragedy. In 1983, 13 people were killed there in what became known as the Wah Mee Massacre. In 2013, a Christmas Eve fire damaged seven businesses on the street level.
- Longtime community leader and educator Betty Patu resigned from the Seattle School Board in May, saying it “was time for someone new to come in.” Patu, who moved to Seattle from American Samoa as a child, said being on the board gave her the opportunity to push back on the mistreatment of students of color in the school district.
Lori Matsukawa, anchor at KING 5 for 36 years, retired in June. Over her career, she covered the eruption of Mount St. Helens and the inspiring achievements of public servants like Gary Locke and Mary Yu.
The first Asian American female news anchor in Seattle, Matsukawa most recently won a regional Emmy Award in 2018 for her series “Prisoners in Their Own Land,” about Japanese American wartime incarceration.
- Five owners and operators were arrested and the massage parlors were shuttered in March in police raids in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (ID) and Beacon Hill neighborhoods. Two dozen Chinese women were also removed from the illegal businesses, where men paid extra for sex acts, police said. Seven of the massage parlors were in the ID, clustered around South Jackson Street.
The Washington State Legislature welcomed one of its most diverse groups of elected officials in state history in January. The most recent class includes a female majority in the House Democratic Caucus with women of color serving in both the House and Senate leadership ranks. The number of women of color in the Senate was doubled in 2018, and again in 2019.
- Bruce Harrell announced in January that he would not seek re-election. The longest-serving Seattle City Council president and the first of Asian descent since the 1970s, Harrell was also the only Seattle mayor of Asian descent (for four days!). Harrell has served in a variety of leadership roles, representing kids and seniors, union members, nonprofits, and affordable housing companies.
- Ichiro Suzuki retired in March after a 28-season career in which he broke several Major League Baseball (MLB) records. Suzuki moved from Japan to join the Mariners in 2001 and after spells with the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins, returned to Seattle in 2018. He retired with the most hits of all Japanese-born players in MLB history. He also became the first Major League player to record at least 200 hits in 10 consecutive seasons.
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang made two campaign stops in Seattle. The first one, in May, Yang spoke at a public rally at Gas Works Park and attended a fundraiser dinner with nearly 500 supporters immediately after, greeting the mainly Chinese crowd in Chinese. He came a second time in December, just three days before the sixth Democratic presidential debate.
- InterIm Community Development Association challenged the results of November’s International Special Review Board District (ISRD) election, citing “multiple election irregularities.”
The election was held on Nov. 19 with 160 ballots cast. InterIm claimed that some members of the community influenced people on how they should vote, and pushed for the election results to be nulled. The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, which oversees the ISRD, rejected InterIm’s challenge on Dec. 18. The new ISRD board will be seated in January 2020.
- Keiro Northwest announced in May that it would close its nursing home. The building on 1601 Yesler Way sold for $11 million—the sale closed on Nov. 21. A community-based nonprofit and Seattle’s largest and oldest Asian Pacific Islander senior care facility, Keiro NW cited “significant financial challenges over the last decade, triggered by the Medicaid Shortfall of 2008-2010” as the reason for closing.