By Jason Cruz
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
A community of dignitaries attended a lunch last week to honor Seattle City Council President Debora Juarez as she announced that she will not seek re-election. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell was in attendance to laud her accomplishments.
Juarez’s current term as councilmember and council president ends on Dec. 31, 2023. The 64-year-old made the announcement late last year that she would not seek another term.
“Two terms is good,” said Juarez about her time on the Seattle City Council to the small gathering. “I learned a lot about being an elected [official].”
Juarez was the first Indigenous woman to hold the office as council president when she was selected in January 2022. She is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation.
She started out as a public defender out of law school and then worked as an attorney for Evergreen Legal Services (currently the Northwest Justice Project). She then served two years as a King County Superior Court and City of Seattle Municipal Court pro-tem judge. Governor Mike Lowry appointed her as a full-time King County Superior Court Judge. From there, she served as Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs.
After stints working in the private sector, she was elected to the Seattle City Council’s District 5 position in 2015. She gained reelection in 2019 to represent District 5 once again.
“Debra is one that is not to be messed with,” joked Harrell about how she has always been a staunch defender of her positions. “That’s refreshing.”
“I think that if we step away from politics for a minute and we look at how we got into the situation of how it (politics) has become so radioactive,” told Harrell, “People aren’t listening, but we have to respect the fact that sometimes we have to yell.”
“Debra is just common sense,” praised Harrell of Juarez’s leadership and her ability to be blunt, honest, and tell the truth. “I look forward to your next chapter because you are a proven commodity.”
“Our humanity… we see in each other,” said Juarez about Harrell and their working relationship. “When’s the last time you’ve seen the council president and the mayor sitting next to each other, even though at times we agree to disagree?” The two sat next to each other at adjoining tables at the private luncheon as they enjoyed dim sum at Joyale Restaurant in Chinatown.
“You have to have integrity. You have to tell the truth,” advised Juarez on what she has learned about being an elected official. “Even if people don’t want to hear it because if people honestly disagree with you and you have honesty and integrity, they will be okay with that.”
Former Seattle City Councilmember David Della, community leader Matt Chan, and the Northwest Asian Weekly teamed up to put together the luncheon. It was the first such event organized by the AAPI community to honor Juarez’s service.
“She is an example of how that position works. Not only taking care of the needs of your district, but also looking citywide and how to take care of the city with a common sense and no-nonsense approach,” said Della who worked with Juarez in Olympia. “The way that she operate[d][back then] is the way she operates right now,” recalled Della during the times they were colleagues, “Integrity, with care for community and people and no nonsense.”
Juarez added that the AAPI community was the first to recognize and celebrate her work on the council with her and thanked those in attendance. “It’s been such an honor to represent the city of Seattle and try to meet the needs of my district.”
In addition to Della and Harrell, former Seattle Supersonics head coach Lenny Wilkens was in attendance to thank her for her service and presented Juarez with a signed basketball.
Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jay potter says
And how much did this “lunch” cost the taxpayers for this person that will no longer be employed by the city??