Three new councilmembers—Hugo Garcia, Sarah Moore, and Stephanie Mora—and re-elected Jimmy Matta joined the Burien City Council on January 1, 2022.
The new City Council was seated during a surge in COVID-19 cases and continued challenges caused by the pandemic. With City facilities closed to help stop the spread of the omicron variant, the City Council convened virtually, as it has since March 16, 2020.
Last fall and winter, the past City Council administration adopted policies to protect our community from the impacts of the pandemic including an eviction moratorium, city employee vaccine mandate, distribution of personal protective equipment, and funding to support the basic needs of our neighbors as well as our local businesses. This City Council continues progress on updating Burien’s tree regulations and weighing in on the implementation of Burien’s first Climate Action Plan. New community plans for the Ambaum Blvd SW corridor and Boulevard Park commercial core will guide the future of development in those neighborhoods. The mid-biennium budget update, adopted last December, reflects the need to increase investment in our infrastructure, human services, and creative approaches to public safety. We will also be evaluating how to best invest $10.8 million in federal funding to help our community recover from the pandemic. There are also many new plans that the City Council will begin discussing with the community in 2022, including updates to the Comprehensive Plan, Transportation Master Plan, and Parks and Open Space Plan.
Burien faces the same challenges and opportunities that all Puget Sound communities face. Our policymaking reflects the need to ensure public safety, increase Burien’s supply of affordable housing, provide an environment that allows economic development to flourish, and building a community that is resilient to climate change. Guiding our policymaking efforts will be a new strategic plan for the City Council and City of Burien government. We invite the community to help us develop our goals and strategies for the next five years.
We are also focused on hiring Burien’s next city manager who will be responsible for implementing the City Council’s strategic plan and leading a 100-person city government organization in service to the Burien community. We want to hear from the community on what they want to see in the next city manager.
Finally, we want to thank Brian J. Wilson for his dedication and years of service to the Burien community. City Manager Wilson guided our city government and community through some of the toughest challenges we have faced in Burien and as a nation. We are grateful for the legacy he leaves behind, including an immensely capable leadership team, strong financial position as evidenced by the City’s increased bond rating, and economic growth, even in a time of recession. We wish him well on his next adventure.
Mayor and Deputy Mayor Election
The City Council elected Sofia Aragon to serve as mayor and Kevin Schilling as deputy mayor. Both Aragon and Schilling were elected to Burien City Council in 2019.
Mayor Aragon is the executive director of Washington Center for Nursing, a nonprofit organization focused on building a strong and diverse nursing workforce. She is the first woman of color to be mayor of Burien. Deputy Mayor Schilling currently works as an aide for Rep. Derek Kilmer. Prior to this position, he was a pastoral assistant for youth ministry at the St. Francis of Assisi Parish.
Burien is a council-manager form of government, which means other members of the City Council elect both the mayor and deputy mayor. Mayors serve two-year terms and deputy mayors serve one-year terms; both can serve an unlimited number of terms.
Burien City Council
As the City's governing body, Burien's seven elected City Councilmembers establish City policies and laws, adopt an annual budget, approve appropriations, contract for services, and grant franchises. City Councilmembers serve staggered four-year terms; roughly half the Council is up for election every two years. All Councilmembers are "at-large" meaning that they serve the City as a whole as opposed to a specific district.
The City Council chooses a Mayor and Deputy Mayor from among its members at the first meeting of the new year following an election. The Mayor presides at Council meetings and represents the City at ceremonial functions and inter-governmental meetings. The Deputy Mayor presides in the Mayor's absence.