City Council Unanimously Elects Debora Juarez as Council President Making Her the First Indigenous Council President In City History
January 4, 2022 | Seatle City Hall
Seattle, WA — Councilmember Debora Juarez (District 5 — North Seattle) was elected Council President by a unanimous vote of her colleagues during Tuesday's first council meeting of the New Year.
The Council Presidency is a two-year term. The President serves as the presiding officer of the Council, sets the Council agenda, assigns legislation to committees, and is the primary point of contact for external agencies. The Council President also assumes the duties and responsibilities of the Executive if the Mayor is absent from the City or incapacitated.
"It's time for our city to heal and move forward to address our most pressing issues: restructuring our community safety system, restoring our public spaces, providing services to those experiencing homelessness, building affordable housing, and working with tribal governments to promote economic vitality," said Juarez. "We do this by refocusing our city on what government does well — a common-sense approach, working in tandem with the Mayor, that will restore trust and confidence in our government."
Juarez continued: "And to my colleagues, I thank you for your trust in my leadership. To start my tenure as council president, I have laid the groundwork to envision a committee structure that emphasizes teamwork — where committee members do not see each other as competitors but rather collaborators. I've selected committees for each of you based on your strengths, professional experience, and interests. I commit to you to serve as a bridge-builder and lead with my values: humility, civility, effectiveness, and an appreciation for each other's humanity. Under my leadership, we will move away from transactional approaches and towards collaboration and results. As Council President, I will endeavor to work with you to bring economic vitality to your districts, and help you leave your legacy for our incredible city."
The year 2022 will mark 35 years of public service by Councilmember Juarez on behalf of the people of Washington state, King County, Seattle, and Coast Salish peoples.
Selected highlights from Councilmember Juarez's service on the Council include:
Championed the Key Arena renovation, a $1 billion reconstruction accomplished without taxpayer dollars, and the rebuilding of the city's waterfront, a $728 M investment to construct a promenade and new park along Alaska Way opening in 2024.
Advocated for transit throughout the region as a member of the Sound Transit Board, including the new $56 million Northgate pedestrian-bike bridge she pushed to name after U.S. Rep. John Lewis and the 130th LINK light rail station opening in 2025.
Led the efforts for the city to become the first in the nation to address the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) epidemic.
Created the first-ever Indigenous Advisory Council, a council of tribal members and native community members to advise the City Council, Mayor, and City Departments on policies related to native communities.
Supported the Clean Cities Initiative, a multi-million dollar initiative to remove garbage, graffiti, and needles from public spaces in Seattle.
Partnered with Mayor Jenny Durkan to steward $30 million in funding based on the recommendations from the Equitable Communities Initiative Task Force.
Juarez detailed her vision for Council President, "During my tenure as City Council President I want to build stronger relationships between the city and Tribal Governments, the original peoples of this land, to generate economic prosperity. Tribal investment and a strong partnership will help our city and our region continue to grow."
Councilmember Juarez has lived in District 5 for over 30 years and resides in the Lake City neighborhood of Pinehurst. She was elected to represent District 5 in 2015 and was at that time the first and only Native American elected to the Seattle City Council. She was re-elected by a solid majority in 2019. She is profoundly honored to continue to serve the people of District 5, and the City of Seattle as Council President.
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell released the following statement after City Councilmember Debora Juarez was elected Council President:
"Congratulations to Councilmember Debora Juarez on her historic and unanimous election to Council President. I worked closely with Councilmember Juarez on the City Council, and I know she is a listener, collaborator, and someone focused on getting things done for our Seattle community.
"I am ecstatic to work with her again as we urgently address issues of homelessness and public safety and strive for a united Seattle."