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No Purple or Red Need Apply

No Purple or Red Need Apply

by Martin Barrett

In June, there was a mass exodus of Planning Commissioners. This exodus created five openings for new candidates to step onto this important city commission.

On September 11, 2023, the city staff gave an update on the process for filling the vacant positions. In the agenda meeting, the questionnaire candidates are required to fill out was attached. It was revealing.

When five members resign over a disciplinary action voted on by a timid city council, it begs the question of member diversity. The validity of this observation is heightened by the application questions the Burien City Council uses to evaluate candidates for the commission. Rather than seeking the most qualified candidates representing the varied viewpoints of Burien residents, the Council has clearly stated that those with moderate or even conservative views are not allowed to serve. 

The application for candidates has six questions. The first five are reasonable and on point. These first five questions seek to understand why someone wants to serve, their qualifications, and any vision they might have. But what is evident from past selection results is that the only question that really matters is Number Six:

6. How do you propose the Planning Commission incorporates diversity, equity, and inclusion in its work?

In other words, if you are not a card-carrying member of the diversity, equity, and inclusion worldview, your skills, knowledge, and experience have no place in developing the direction of our city. Regardless of your sincerity and desire to help all Burien residents regardless of ethnicity, economic status, gender identification, and so forth, if you do not subscribe to this specific idealism, this political perspective, then you have no place on the commission. This is a perversion of civic culture. It is just as evil as if, one day, the opposite worldview was in power, and the last question was, “How do you propose the Planning Commission incorporate white supremacy in its work?” Let’s hope everyone, from every stripe, color, and background, would stand up and say NO! Especially whites. Yet this is what we have in our current council process. 

If we are going to be a city that moves forward together, such exclusionary policies must be removed from the governing process. Political litmus tests reduce diversity and are not equitable to the various viewpoints in Burien, regardless of their color, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, or language.

Below are some interesting updates on who has applied, as presented by the Burien City Staff on September 11, 2023.

  • The application was available in English and Spanish; however, only English applications were submitted.
  • 27 total applications were received. Of the 27:
    • One candidate is a current Planning Commission alternate.
    • Three candidates currently hold, or formerly held, advisory body positions.
    • One candidate is a former council member and mayor.
    • Lastly, one candidate is related to a current council member.

For the sake of our city, let’s hope that character, vision, talent, skills, and experience are the criteria used in selection. Our city deserves the best! 

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