Diana White encourages community engagement at kickoff

‘Do we bring all the voices to the table, or do we just listen to the loudest voices in the room?’
By Brian Soergel | May 01, 2019
Photo by: Brian Soergel Diana White: “We will make better decisions and communities stronger if we engage all Edmonds citizens. And all means all.”

As she spoke at her City Council kickoff campaign on Tuesday, Diana White told the packed house at Las Brisas that those who know her know she loves the musical “Hamilton.”

“A story about the founding of our nation, written by a Puerto Rican, as told by hip-hop. How cool is that? It reminds us how messy and difficult democracy is. But democracy is also energizing and inspiring. It’s about you, the voters. You decide who you want to lead, build, govern, and make decisions.”

Edmonds voters will be doing just that this year, as the there are several new faces vying for a seat on the City’s legislative branch.

White, the Edmonds School District board president whose term ends in November, will face competition for Position 6 from Susan Paine. Both are running for the seat Thomas Mesaros is vacating at the end of the year.

Mesaros is throwing his support behind White and was at the kickoff, as was former Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson, who introduced White.

Haakenson also introduced Councilmember Neil Tibbott at his mayoral kickoff.

“Do we bring all the voices to the table, or do we just listen to the loudest voices in the room?” White said in a prepared speech.

“Do we engage people of all ages, or just the people with time and access to a computer? Do our City Council meetings reflect the rich ethnic diversity, so evident in our schools? And how does income inequality affect the issues we decide to take on?

“We will make better decisions and communities stronger if we engage all Edmonds citizens. And all means all.”

White spoke of a few of her priorities.

On affordable housing, she asked, “How do we gracefully manage the impending growth and change coming our way, and how do we keep public safety strong and quality of life intact?”

One critical issue, she said, was “how to provide emergency access to the waterfront, with its beautiful new community center and the growing port activities.”

White also mentioned the city’s “fragile ecosystems.”

“We need to be responsible stewards of our environment as we inhabit the lands of the original Coast Salish people.”

White, who has four children with her husband, Steve, added that, “I believe the younger generation, like my millennial kids, must have a say in the what the communities will look like as they raise families of their own.”

She praised the recent formation of the Youth Commission by Edmonds-Woodway students.

At the end of her speech, White again returned to “Hamilton,” and the lyrics, “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?”

“No matter where we come from, we all have a story to tell,” she said. “We want our voices to be heard. I am increasingly inspired to use mine to speak up on behalf of indigenous people and Native Americans. To say we are still here; we are not invisible.”

White has been active in multiple City of Edmonds efforts, including roles as a founding member of the Diversity Commission, member of Mayor’s Advisory Group, and participating on the Civic Park Planning Committee.

She has also served as past chair of Hazel Miller Foundation.

White is an enrolled member of the Prairie Band Potowatomi Tribe, and her ancestors are from the Cherokee Nation. As Diversity Commission chair, White was instrumental in bringing Indigenous Peoples Day to City Council in 2017.

And she recently requested that the council consider adding a land acknowledgment statement of indigenous peoples before its meetings.

“This year, for the first time ever, we have Native American women serving in the Washington Legislature, and even U.S. Congress. So why not the Edmonds City Council?”

 

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