Category: Councilmember Okamoto

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You Will Be Missed

My time on Council has been filled with heated policy debates and second-floor strategizing, and I’ve come to admire my colleagues during this process. It takes all kinds of thinkers to make good policy, and I hope you enjoy the following observations and tongue-in-cheek predictions about my Council family. At the very least, these will […]


Stopping Homelessness Before It Starts

Originally posted at The Seattle Times. Does the City Council have the political will to redirect spending for programs that help prevent homelessness from happening? PREVENTION is Seattle’s best-kept secret to answering homelessness. As the city pours resources into shelters, the city’s homeless population continues to grow. And while sheltering is an immediate necessity — […]


Better Capacity, Better Outcomes

Capacity-building has become a hot topic for governments and foundations everywhere, but what does it really mean and why do we want to invest in it? The City relies on non-profit organizations to deliver a significant amount of critical human services. The Human Services Department (HSD) currently has 400 contracts with nearly 200 organizations. HSD’s […]


Honoring Our Native Peoples

One year ago, I remember how proud I was when the Council and Mayor declared the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the City of Seattle.  Many know that date to be the federally enacted Columbus Day. For a long time, Columbus was celebrated for his “discovery of America,” when indigenous people […]


A Voice for Drivers: A Complex Solution

I support the effort to offer independent contractors needed protections in an evolving and competitive industry. This past Friday, the Committee on Finance and Culture unanimously voted to create collective bargaining protections for for-hire drivers in Seattle. I’ve heard significant public testimony and met with unions, taxis, Uber, Lyft, and independent drivers regarding this legislation. […]


City Launches Effort to Better Identify and Serve Marginalized Populations


City Launches Effort to Better Identify and Serve Marginalized Populations

SEATTLE - The City launched an effort today to better identify individual ethnic populations in Seattle to accurately understand their demographic makeup to allocate resources accordingly.

Governments use demographic data, including the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey, to allocate resources and set policy, however, disparate ethnic groups are often bundled into broad categories which can result in skewed data. Currently, for instance, 25 countries represent the "Asian American and Pacific Islander" (AAPI) category in the City's data collection process, however, there are many differences among the unique groups within the AAPI classification as it relates to educational attainment, income, and health. At the State level, only 13% of Asian American adults lack a high school diploma, but disaggregated data finds that over 30% of Cambodian and Vietnamese adults lack a high school diploma.

The resolution signed today by Mayor Murray establishes a task force to recommend improvements to the City's data collection process, including standardized data collection among all City departments and utilizing disaggregated data.

"Based on the way data is collected, certain populations in our city are invisible and are often overlooked when it comes to important resource allocation and service delivery," said Councilmember John Okamoto, co-sponsor of the resolution. "Seattle will be one of the first cities in the nation to undertake this data disaggregation effort, if not the first, and I'd like to thank engaged community members for bringing this issue to my attention."

"Seattle must be a more equitable City. We can achieve that by breaking down the generalizations that have underrepresented our communities of color and immigrants," said Mayor Ed Murray. "More accurate and specific data will help the City deliver better services and improve outcomes for our residents. I applaud Councilmember Okamoto for his leadership on this issue

"I understand the broad strokes we sometimes place on our ethnic communities," said Councilmember Bruce Harrell. This work takes an inclusive analysis in refining the data to help us do a better job of providing services and resources where they are needed. It is time we look at specific demographic information to help us achieve targeted solutions."


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No Data, No Justice

Today, with the Mayor officially signing the resolution I sponsored, Seattle became the first city in the nation to adopt legislation on data disaggregation. I’ve found that there’s no faster way for people’s eyes to glaze over than by using the term “data disaggregation.”  But at the recent iCount Symposium hosted by the White House […]


First HALA Action Passed

Yesterday, Council passed legislation that took action on the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). The legislation renews and expands the Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE) program as recommended by HALA. The MFTE program – one housing affordability tool in a box of many – provides a tax exemption on the residential improvements on multifamily projects […]