“Our Uncle, Billy Frank Jr., taught us that you should ‘lead to leave.’ I’ve added my own sentiment: ‘leave a legacy.’ I believe it’s time to leave Seattle City Council, and I am proud of our legacy. It has been an honor to serve the city I love, with good people who care as deeply about it as I do.”– Debora Juarez
Today Seattle City Council President Debora Juarez announced her decision not to seek re-election to the Seattle City Council. Juarez was elected as the first representative of District 5 in 2015, with 64% of the vote. She was re-elected in 2019 with a 60% majority. Juarez intends to complete her second four-year term as the first Indigenous Councilmember (and first Indigenous Council President) in the 154-year history of the City of Seattle when her second term concludes on December 31, 2023.
Council President Juarez’s legacy includes successfully forging new ways to build the city’s infrastructure through community partnerships. She is known for her determined “get-it-done” approach, and her willingness to see opportunities where others see barriers. Propelled by this spirit, Council President Juarez leaves a legacy marked by the development of critical infrastructure, increased services to vulnerable communities, and consistent advocacy for equity and economic vitality.
Leaving a Seattle Legacy
Climate Pledge Arena – Juarez led the way for the city to rebuild Key Arena, bringing together government and private industry to rebuild the arena on Seattle Center grounds. The new $600 million facility was privately-funded, built to NHL and NBA standards, and completed in less than three years. In October 2021, the venue became home to the NHL’s Seattle Kraken.
Seattle Storm Training Facility – Juarez championed women’s sports, asking facilities like Climate Pledge Arena to support the 4-time national champion Seattle Storm. She helped the construction of the Seattle Storm Training Facility in Interbay. She also advocated for the Kraken Community Iceplex to include space for girls’ hockey games and practices. In 2021, she was recognized as an “OL Reign Legend.”
Waterfront Local Improvement District – Once the viaduct was demolished, Juarez led the creation of the Local Improvement District (LID) to support the redevelopment of the waterfront for public use. Projects include a pedestrian bridge leading to Pike Place Market, and a major expansion of the Seattle Aquarium.
West Seattle Ballard Link Light Rail – In 2019, Juarez was appointed to represent the City of Seattle on the regional Sound Transit Board of Directors, which is currently at work on the largest public capital project in the city – the West Seattle Ballard LINK light rail project.
Housing Levy – To fight homelessness, Juarez advocated for doubling the City’s proposed 2016 Housing Levy, which was overwhelmingly approved by 68% of voters. This spring, she will convene a Select Committee to review the Mayor’s proposal for a renewal of the Levy.
Seattle Promise Program – Juarez joined Mayor Durkan to promote expansion of the Families and Education Levy to include the Seattle Promise Program, which provides graduates of Seattle Public Schools with tuition at any of the Seattle Colleges.
Police Accountability Ordinance – Juarez worked with former Council President Lorena Gonzalez to create the Community Police Commission, Office of Police Accountability, and the Office of Inspector General. In 2022, Juarez was asked to serve on Mayor Bruce Harrell’s Chief of Police Search Committee, which ultimately selected Adrian Diaz.
Leaving an Indigenous Legacy
Indigenous Advisory Council – Juarez created the City’s first Indigenous Advisory Council, dedicated to advising the city’s elected leadership and departments.
MMIWG Advocacy – Juarez successfully launched the first Native American data specialist position within the SPD to review missing & murdered Indigenous persons cases.
SIHB Lake City Clinic -To improve access to health care and culturally-appropriate medical services, Juarez instigated a partnership between Seattle Indian Health Board and North Helpline to open a medical clinic in Lake City. The clinic opened in 2022.
Leaving a D5 Legacy
LINK Light Rail Station at NE 130th St. -. Juarez successfully persuaded the Sound Transit Board to include a station at 130th Street in the 2016 Sound Transit Ballot measure passed by voters. Construction on a second platform is now underway, with opening anticipated for 2026.
John Lewis Memorial Bridge – In 2021 the City of Seattle opened the John Lewis Memorial Bridge; a wide, welcoming, and safe pedestrian/bike connection spanning 12 lanes of I-5. Juarez fostered construction of the bridge to connect North Seattle College and surrounding neighborhoods directly to the new Northgate light rail station, Kraken Community Iceplex, and Northgate Station shops and restaurants.
Kraken Community Iceplex – Juarez argued successfully for the Kraken Community Iceplex (KCI) to be developed at Northgate to make use of the new Northgate light rail station (opened in 2021), and to help secure jobs in District 5. This $80 million private investment in D5 was completed in 2021 with three new rinks available for community use.
Lake City Community Center – Before taking office, constituents approached Juarez to ask for her support for the complete demolition and replacement of the outdated and under-serving Lake City Community Center, operated by Seattle Parks & Recreation (SPR). Juarez successfully advocated for millions in dedicated city and state funding for the project. Though put on hold with all other capital projects during the pandemic, Juarez’s persistence has meant that the $40.5 million project is now in Phase II.
Affordable Housing – Juarez successfully advocated for mixed-income housing throughout the Northgate neighborhood, including: Simon Partners Group (SPG) redevelopment plans for Northgate Mall, the Seattle Housing Authority’s redevelopment of Northgate Commons, and on the campus of North Seattle College.
Hayashi Avenue – When Lake City residents wanted to recognize the Hayashi family for their leadership in building the neighborhood, Juarez led the effort to honor the family by renaming 28th Ave. NE with the honorary name ‘Hayashi Avenue’
North Helpline – When the Greenwood Food Bank abruptly closed in 2016, Juarez worked with North Helpline to secure city support to open the Bitter Lake Food Bank, located across the street from the Bitter Lake Community Center.
Each of these citywide and D5 successes were made possible thanks to strong, reliable leadership and support of 16 Seattle City Councilmember colleagues, 3 Seattle Mayors, and many valued Department Directors and City staff. Success also relied on collaborative work with regional leadership such as Tribes and Indigenous-led urban organizations, the 18-member Sound Transit Board, the state legislative delegation, the Governor and federal Congressional Delegation, and many active, attentive community groups.
Click here for more information on these and many other accomplishments from Council President Juarez’s time on Council.
Council President Debora Juarez, an enrolled citizen of the Blackfeet Nation, is the first Native American elected to the City Council, the first Native American elected to be Council President, and represents North Seattle’s City Council District 5. Learn more about Councilmember Juarez on her website.