Seattle Municipal Archives Feature: Mayor Norm Rice

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 Seattle’s first and (so far) only African American Mayor, Norman B. Rice

 Norm Rice in front of the Seattle City Seal

Mayor Norm Rice, April 27, 1993,  Item 72831, Seattle Municipal Archives

Norm Rice first served on Seattle City Council from 1979 to1989, then served as Mayor from 1990 to 1997. 

Norman B. Rice was born May 4, 1943 in Denver, Colorado. After attending Highline Community College, Rice earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and a Masters of Public Administration at the University of Washington. Rice holds honorary degrees from Seattle University, the University of Puget Sound, and Whitman College. Before entering City government, he worked as a reporter at KOMO-TV News and KIXI radio, served as Assistant Director of the Seattle Urban League, was Executive Assistant and Director of Government Services for the Puget Sound Council of Governments, and was employed as the Manager of Corporate Contributions and Social Policy at Rainier National Bank.

Norm Rice Campaigning for Seattle City Council. Item 77389, Seattle Municipal Archives

Beginning in 1978, Rice served eleven years on City Council, including a term as Council President; he also served as chair of the Energy and Finance and Budget Committees. Rice facilitated the development of more equitable cost allocation and rate design procedures for Seattle City Light as part of his work on the Energy Committee; his accomplishments on the Finance and Budget Committee included the passage of the Women and Minority Business Enterprise Ordinance and the elimination of City investments in firms doing business in South Africa.  Rice also worked to improve public safety in Seattle and advocated for the use of local funds to improve conditions for disadvantaged Seattle citizens.

            Elected as 49th Mayor of the city of Seattle in 1989, he was re-elected in 1993.  During his mayoral term, he also served as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors from 1995 to 1996.  Rice worked to secure federal, state, and local funding for public-private partnerships in redevelopment efforts in downtown Seattle.  He sponsored a citywide education summit and worked to lower Seattle’s crime rate.  He worked to find partnerships between city officials and social workers to locate private funding for services to the homeless.


Mayor Norm Rice at the US Conference of Mayors, 1994. Item 77373, Seattle Municipal Archives.





 Following his public service to the City, he became president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle from 1998 to 2004. His wife, Constance Rice, is a respected educator and former vice-chancellor of the Seattle Community College system.  In 2007, Rice joined the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington, lecturing on civic engagement.

Open to the public for research, the Seattle Municipal Archives holds records relating to Rice’s City Council and Mayoral terms.  Included are:

  • Councilmember Norm Rice Subject Files, 1973-1992.  Record Series 4674-02.
  • Councilmember Norm Rice Finance Committee Records, 1980-1984.  Record Series 4674-03.
  • Councilmember Norm Rice Public Safety Committee Records, 1986-1987.  Record Series 4674-04.
  • Councilmember Norm Rice Energy Committee Records, 1987-1989.  Record Series 4674-05.
  • Norm Rice Speeches and Statements, 1984-1989.  Record Series 4674-06.
  • Mayor’s Office Central Files, Record Series 5200-07.
  • Mayor Norm Rice Departmental Correspondence, 1990-1997.  Record Series 5272-01.
  • Mayor Norm Rice Subject Files, 1990-1997.  Record Series 5272-02.
  • Mayor Norm Rice Speeches and Statements, 1989-1997.  Record Series 5272-06.
  • Mayor Norm Rice Photographs, 1978-1997.  Record Series 5272-07.
  • Norm Rice Campaign Materials, 1978-1996.  Record Series 5272-09.

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