Media Contact: Robin Engle
January 15th, 2019
For Immediate Release:
SeaTac Community Members React with Shock and Disappointment to the City Council’s Replacement of Amina Ahmed
This blog post contains a correction – please see starred portions and the footnote below.
SeaTac – The SeaTac immigrant community reacted with disappointment to the SeaTac City Council’s replacement of Councilor Amina Ahmed’s position after her sudden passing in early December. The Council publicly stated that they would not make a decision on replacing the position until the first week of February* and did not involve the community, so the choice was unexpected.
Community members like Kongo Bamanayi were surprised. “I was at the public meeting where they said they would make a decision in February.* I was shocked when I found out they had already made a decision and it was a done deal.”
Councilmember Amina Ahmed was a leader on the Council coming from and speaking for the immigrant community. Replacing her seat with someone who isn’t connected to the community, without a public process to weigh in, eroded community members’ already low trust in their local government and council. This blow comes after another decision to displace local immigrant owned businesses against the wishes of the community.
SeaTac resident Mohamed Egal was disappointed, but resolved to act. “It was a very sad moment for the City of SeaTac. SeaTac is a majority minority city. You cannot accurately represent people who don’t share your life experience – if you haven’t been in that situation it’s hard to relate to people who are struggling and working minimum wage. It makes us sad, but it also demands we organize so we have a city council that reflects our values and interests.”
SeaTac has become a majority-minority city with a sizable immigrant population, and the actions of the City Council strengthen the impression many hold that either their government simply doesn’t represent them, or worse: that their government is actively hostile towards their identity and concerns.
“The community feels totally isolated from the City of SeaTac’s government and the Mayor of SeaTac,” commented SeaTac business owner Tawfik Maudah. “I’ve lived in SeaTac since 2011. When we go to City Hall, some of their decisions and actions make us feel like we don’t exist, like we are not to be counted and don’t belong, even though we are a majority in the city.”
*Upon video review, the council did not state a February review time, though they discussed that possibility, but instead stated the decision would be made prior to January 17th.