NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, November 6th, 2017

Burien City Council candidate Jimmy Matta reflects back on an ugly campaign season

This past elec­tion sea­son has been like none that Burien City Coun­cil can­di­date Jim­my Mat­ta has ever seen before. Speak­ing to NPI in the final hours before Elec­tion Day, Mat­ta reflect­ed on the ugli­ness that the com­mu­ni­ty has endured in this autum­n’s city coun­cil races, which have put Burien in the region­al spot­light.

A series of inci­dents involv­ing racial­ly moti­vat­ed attacks, a Face­book group called “Take Back Burien” that has become a plat­form for extrem­ist rants, and the enabling actions of incum­bent coun­cilmem­bers (like Mat­ta’s oppo­nent Debi Wag­n­er) were dis­cussed in a Sep­tem­ber 6th arti­cle in The Stranger by Syd­ney Brown­stone, which described the sit­u­a­tion as “a micro­cosm of nation­al pol­i­tics”.

Two of Mat­ta’s own fam­i­ly mem­bers have been vic­tims of assault and harass­ment in the last month alone. Still, he remains con­vinced that the loud­est voic­es cap­tur­ing local head­lines do not rep­re­sent the major­i­ty in his home­town.

He is even able to find a sil­ver lin­ing in all of the ugli­ness, not­ing that the neg­a­tive atten­tion has drawn in a strong, fired-up vol­un­teer force that under­stands the impor­tance of shift­ing the pow­er on Burien’s city coun­cil.

Jimmy Matta speaks at the 2017 M.L. King County Labor Day Picnic

Burien City Coun­cil can­di­date Jim­my Mat­ta speaks at the 2017 M.L. King Coun­ty Labor Day Pic­nic (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Mat­ta could also become the city’s first ever Lati­no coun­cilmem­ber. If he wins, it would be a strong repu­di­a­tion by the vot­ers of the against the hate­ful rhetoric that has plagued City Hall in recent months.

Mat­ta likes to lead by exam­ple, and says one rea­son he is run­ning for city coun­cil is to plant the seed of par­tic­i­pa­tion in young peo­ple and oth­ers who may feel exclud­ed by the polit­i­cal process. He has been involved in com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions and a leader in his union since the begin­ning of his career. His chil­dren are already fol­low­ing in his foot­steps.

His son was recent­ly named a union del­e­gate, and his daugh­ter hav­ing become a stu­dent sen­a­tor at High­line’s Avi­a­tion High School.

Vot­ers have also been open to hav­ing can­did con­ver­sa­tions with him, he says, describ­ing him­self as a com­mu­ni­ty-mind­ed can­di­date. One mem­o­rable door­belling expe­ri­ence he had this cam­paign began with dis­trust­ful and prej­u­dice remarks but end­ed with tears, a hug, and a state­ment of sup­port from the vot­er.

Mat­ta hopes to help con­tin­ue these con­ver­sa­tions after tak­ing office. He plans to work with the King Coun­ty Sher­if­f’s Office (which con­tracts with the City of Burien for polic­ing ser­vices) to par­tic­i­pate in more open, com­mu­ni­ty forums between deputies and cit­i­zens. He believes this greater invest­ment in the com­mu­ni­ty will estab­lish more trust, respect, and under­stand­ing on both sides.

Who turns out to vote in this elec­tion will deter­mine whether Burien is gov­erned by by a reac­tionary, right wing gang or by a pro­gres­sive major­i­ty.

Remem­ber to return your bal­lots to a drop box by tomor­row (Tues­day, Novem­ber 7th) or to a post office by the last out­go­ing mail col­lec­tion time.

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One Comment

  1. When my son Dominic and I were at the Burien library to get his very first library card Jim­my Mat­ta was present with the rest of the can­di­dates at an open debate forum. Before the start of the debate my son asked if he could get his pic­ture tak­en with that guy(Jimmy Mat­ta) I said sure go ask him if you can. Not only was Jim­my kind enough to engage my son he was gen­er­ous enough to allow him a pho­to with him. Lat­er on dur­ing the debate he addressed the impor­tance of fam­i­ly and com­mu­ni­ty and acknowl­edged my son as being apart of the idea of fam­i­ly and com­mu­ni­ty he was talk­ing, by shar­ing his name live on the debate feed at the library. Dominic and I were com­plete­ly blown away hav­ing nev­er met Jim­my Mat­ta before that expe­ri­ence, stole our hearts and won our sup­port and vote as part of his fam­i­ly and com­mu­ni­ty.

    From one father to anoth­er I am hon­ored for hav­ing met you Jim­my Mat­ta and the impact and mem­o­rie you left my 8 year old son with about fam­i­ly and com­mu­ni­ty as well as pub­lic aware­ness. Thank you very much let’s get this WIN FOR JIMMY MATTA

    # by Nicholas Futch :: November 7th, 2017 at 6:29 PM