The City of Redmond is beginning a new era under new management.
Last night, NPI’s hometown — a growing and increasingly diverse suburb of Seattle — celebrated the inauguration of its new mayor and city council.
NPI alum and King County District Court Judge Michael Finkle (who authored NPI’s Code of Ethics and served on NPI’s staff prior to joining the bench in 2020) administered the oath of office to newly elected Mayor Angela Birney and Councilmembers David Carson, Jessica Forsythe, Varisha Khan, and Vanessa Kritzer.
Together with Councilmembers Steve Fields, Jeralee Anderson, and Tanika Padhye, they will govern Redmond for the next two years. (Their terms extend through 2023, while Fields, Anderson, and Padhye’s terms extend through 2021.)
This is the first time in Redmond’s history that it has had a female mayor along with a female council supermajority.
It actually wasn’t all that long ago that Redmond’s elected representatives were almost entirely male, as newly elected Mayor Angela Birney observed during her remarks following the swearing-in ceremonies.
Nine years ago, there was just one woman serving on the city council: Kim Allen, one of NPI’s earliest and strongest supporters. Now there are five.
- Mayor John Marchione
- Councilmember Richard Cole
- Councilmember David Carson
- Councilmember Hank Margeson
- Councilmember Hank Myers
- Councilmember John Stilin
- Councilmember Pat Vache
- Councilmember Kim Allen
As of December 2019, we almost have the inverse:
- Councilmember Steve Fields
- Councilmember David Carson
- Mayor Angela Birney
- Councilmember Varisha Khan
- Councilmember Jessica Forsythe
- Councilmember Tanika Padhye
- Councilmember Vanessa Kritzer
- Councilmember Jeralee Anderson
That’s a huge change for Redmond — and a welcome one.
When government looks like the community that it is supposed to represent, we all benefit. Last night’s swearing-in saw incredible community turnout, much of it for Varisha Khan, who is now the youngest member of the city council. The council chambers were packed for the occasion, with every seat taken.
I worked on Varisha’s campaign in a personal capacity (NPI doesn’t endorse candidates) and am very proud of her victory. I was pleased to see so many people show up to honor her historic accomplishment. Behind by around ten points on Election Night to incumbent Hank Myers, Varisha Khan overcame a huge deficit to take the lead and win by a margin of only sixty-six votes. She is one of two Islamic women to win city council races this year; the other is Pasco’s Zahra Roach.
Courtesy of the City of Redmond, here is a biographical sketch of each of the individuals who was sworn in last night for new terms.
Mayor-elect Angela Birney was elected to City Council in 2015 and served as Council President from 2018 to 2019. She currently represents Redmond on several regional boards and committees and previously served on the Parks and Trails Commission.
Angela grew up in Eastern Washington and moved to Redmond in 1998. Formerly a middle school science teacher, she earned a Master of Education from Heritage University and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology Education from Eastern Washington University. She lives on Education Hill with her husband and daughters.
Varisha Khan’s background is rooted in local journalism and nonprofits. As a journalist, she developed a beat around issues pertaining to race, immigrants and communities of color.
In her nonprofit work, she focused on making media and government more representative and inclusive. Born in Dallas, Texas to a middle-class American Muslim family, Varisha received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Washington in Communication, Journalism and Political Science.
Jessica Forsythe is an award-winning Creative Director and owner of a small graphic design studio which works primarily with clients who seek to better their community.
Originally from Northeast Ohio, Jessica graduated from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication Design with a concentration in Environmental Design. She has worked in environmental design, architecture, branding, and was the Art Director for the Seattle Symphony.
Vanessa Kritzer has devoted her career to working for social and environmental justice. She has experience in the non-profit, government, and private sectors, most recently at Microsoft.
Vanessa attended undergrad at Vassar College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Latin American and Latinx Studies and Political Science and obtained a Master of Business Administration from the University of Washington Foster School of Business and a Master of Public Administration from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. She recently served on the City of Redmond’s Planning Commission and lives in Downtown Redmond with her husband and young daughter.
David Carson, elected to a fourth term on City Council, moved from Southern Oregon to Redmond to work for Microsoft in 1991. He graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. He currently represents the City on the Economic Development Council (EDC) of Seattle and King County, the Emergency Management Advisory Committee (EMAC), the Eastside Transportation Partnership (ETP), and as the chair of the Redmond Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC).
Congratulations to Redmond’s new elected representatives. May you govern NPI’s hometown wisely and well. We look forward to seeing you in action!