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Will Burien elect its first Latino to City Council?

The Burien City Council, 2017. (Back row) Councilmember Debi Wagner, Councilmember Austin Bell, Councilmember Stephen Armstrong, Councilmember Bob Edgar. (Front row) Mayor Lucy Krakowiak, Deputy Mayor Nancy Tosta, Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz.

Election night could mark an historic milestone for the City of Burien, just south of Seattle.

Two candidates have a shot at becoming the first Latino elected to the City Council — or the first two.


Burien is a young city, incorporated in the early '90s. In that time, the community has steadily grown more diverse and less white.

The Latino population, in particular, has more than doubled. According to 2015 census estimates, nearly one of out every four residents in Burien are Latino.

Only a few Latinos have ever run for Burien City Council but none have won. 

Now, two candidates — Pedro Olguin and Jimmy Matta —  are hopeful they’ll succeed. They’re running for separate seats, so could both end up on the council, if elected.

City spokeswoman Emily Inlow-Hood also noted that, in Burien's history, only two people of color have been elected to City Council. Both were Asian Americans. Census estimates from 2015 indicate Burien's population is roughly 34 percent non white, and Asians account for 10 percent of that group.

This election reflects a pivotal time in Burien, as city politics recently hit new tensions around immigration.

The current council narrowly passed a so-called sanctuary policy for undocumented immigrants. Then controversy later escalated, as an outside group linked to white nationalist views led an effort to repeal it

Many Burien voters see this issue on the line Tuesday, and a council race that could set a new tone for the city.

Year started with KUOW: 2006