Dolores Sibonga wants to be first.
Her name has been tossed around, among several others, as possible candidate to replace Phyllis Lamphere who has left the Seattle City Council to take a federal job. There has never been a Filipino American or minority woman on the City Council. Sibonga, if appointed, would be the first in either category. Currently Deputy Executive Secretary of the Washington State Human Rights Commission, Dolores is considered by many to be the most likely appointee.
Sibonga believes she is qualified for the City Council position because of the issues currently before that body.
Her background includes experience in both the communications media and the legal profession. She has edited newspapers, wrote and produced television documentaries for KOMO-TV (receiving an Emmy nomination), graduated from law school, passed the bar, and worked as attorney for Public Defender. In addition, she somehow found time to raise three children.
Another reason for her desire to be on the City Council is to expand the visibility of Asians in decision-making positions. She feels Asians are not getting appointed or elected to positions of power in government and that it’s about time that “the Asian potential” be recognized.
As a minority person, Sibonga wants to make it clear that she intends to be an unequivocal advocate for minority interests. “Of course,” she said, “solutions to the problems affecting Seattle should be in the public welfare. The decision making process involves solutions that should be effective and should be explained. Too many decision makers offer solutions without explanations. When I make decisions, I try to explain why. Sometimes, you have to compromise, but I can’t compromise issues affecting minority interests.
She is apparently willing to plunge right into the middle of controversy. She has definite views about two issues which have attracted much publicity: homosexuality and use of police firearms.
She favors retaining the ordinance respecting homosexual rights in employment anti-discrimination. Her belief is that “once you start removing sanctions guarantee that other civil rights can not be stripped away.
Her opinion on the use of police firearms is equally strong. She said, “there is substantial evidence that the use of firearms by the police have a tremendous impact on people of color. There has to be a way to control the subjective determination made by the police of who they decide to use firearms against. There must be limits.”
At this point, Dolores Sibonga is not well known in Seattle. The City Attorney has given the opinion that a general election will be held for Lamphere’s seat, probably in November. Sibonga has neither the notoriety or the money to compete with well-heeled candidates. Thus, for the time being, Sibonga intends only to seek the interim appointment to the vacated seat and not run for elections.
If she is appointed, Dolores will probably resign from the board of Inter*im of which she is currently Chairperson. Inter*im Director Bob Santos said, “One thing that Dolores can contribute to the City Council is her insight on some of the issues affecting the International District. She’s been active enough down here to know what’s going on around here. As Chair of our Board, she has helped steer our direction by supporting and advocating for our activities. By the way, she also happens to be a nice person, if that counts for anything.”
As the Examiner was going to press August 24, the City Council had unanimously approved on the first ballot the appointment of Sibonga.