Two Asian Americans, backed by well-financed campaigns, captured a Seattle City Council seat and the office of City Treasure in the November 6 election.
Another Asian City Council candidate lost his bid to unseat a long-time Council member.
Dolores Sibonga, as, expected, defeated Seattle police officer Bob Moffett in the race for the City Council seat vacated by Tim Hill. The Filipino attorney and former State Human Rights Department deputy secretary defeated Moffett 71,337 to 58,347, becoming the first minority woman ever elected to the City Council. She effectively utilized a television blitz during the last part of the campaign to defeat the former Police Officers’ Guild president.
Lloyd Hara defeated Assistant City Treasurer George Cooley in the race for City Treasurer in a bitterly contested election, 63,450 to 56,178. Hara, outspending Cooley two-to-one, said he attacked his opponent as a representative of “hand-me-down government who had the support of the old hands around City Hall.” Hara noted that, of all the candidates running for office this year, he had the second highest number of contributions, next to Sibonga.
In another less publicized City Council race, Paul Horiuchi, a well-known Seattle singer, was overwhelming thwarted by incumbent Sam Smith, 93,072 to 34,715. Horiuchi had campaigned on the need for fresh approaches, which he said Smith, seeking a fourth term, could not provide.
Sibonga, confidently awaiting announcement of election returns at her campaign headquarters downtown, told The Examiner that she would focus on basic priority issues of “employment, shelter and health” when she begins her term on the Council. “It is inexcusable that, in this day and age, anyone should go hungry,” she said. “In the International Year of the Child, there should also be an emphasis on children and single parents.”
Sibonga had been expected to win handily over the more conservative Moffett, after she finished solidly ahead of a field of candidates in the September primary.
Hara pulled in only 37 percent of the vote in the primary against Cooley, but came back to defeat the Assistant City Treasurer in the final election.
“Asians should become more politically active,” said Hara. “The time is now. Besides business, politics is a very important way for Asians to ensure their rights.”
He encouraged Asians to get involved in politics at the grassroots level. “If you’re not involved, you’re not going to count,” he remarked.
Sibonga was the first Filipino American ever to pass the Washington State bar exam. Now she is the first minority woman City Council member. She said she feels good about the accomplishment. “But I wonder why it hasn’t happened before,” she said. “Here I am at 48. There should have been others before.”