2016 Inauguration Remarks

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This week I was honored to be sworn in for a third term to the Seattle City Council. You can watch my speech here, or read my speech below:


Thank you, Joleen, Elisabeth and Katharine. I’d also like to recognize my son-in-law, Dahm Choi, who is with us this afternoon, and his father, Sang Choi, from Seoul, South Korea.

            I’m grateful to all of the voters of Seattle for electing me to my third term on the City Council. All of us up here are very fortunate. Our job is very rewarding, sometimes challenging, but all of us are honored to serve the people of Seattle.

            In a few minutes I will pass the responsibilities of being Council president to Councilmember Harrell. I know he will do a good job. Good luck, Bruce.

            My new primary committee assignment includes oversight of the city government’s finances, our neighborhood planning and outreach work and affordable housing. This last part of my portfolio is very important because later this year we will submit the Affordable Housing Levy to the voters for renewal and potentially a significant expansion.

Seattle voters in their wisdom always step up and invest in the future . . . we saw this last November with approval of the Move Seattle transportation levy and we saw it a year ago when our voters approved a permanent source of funding for our parks and open spaces and when they approved the Seattle Preschool Program.

            The Preschool Program is off to a great start—15 classrooms, one more than planned,  and 288 kids, eight more than anticipated. This program is especially important because we know that many of our children are being left behind. Tragically, many of Seattle’s kids enter Kindergarten already behind their peers and it will be nearly impossible for them to catch up. New research clearly shows that compared to other Western countries, the United States is leaving many of our children behind and this gap is persistent well into adulthood. The same is true here in our good city.

            In the coming weeks, we will start a conversation about what additional steps we can take to remedy this decades-long problem. Universal, high-quality preschool is a crucial first step, so are programs like the Nurse Family Partnership, but there are other evidence-based efforts we can implement as well. I’m looking forward to this important discussion.

So, to frame my approach to public policy, I will end with a Burgess haiku:


Always serve humbly

Do things that really matter

Focus most on the kids