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)

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

  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

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