by Neal McNamara
(This article originally appeared on Patch.com and has been republished with permission.)
The SeaTac City Council on Jan. 14 during a special meeting picked a replacement for former councilwoman Amina Ahmed, who died in a car crash in December. Some members of the local immigrant community were surprised by the pick, saying it wasn’t supposed to happen until February – and that Ahmed’s replacement does not represent SeaTac’s large immigrant community.
The Council picked Stanley Tombs as Ahmed’s replacement in executive session, according to the meeting agenda, and then voted on his appointment in open session. Tombs was part of a group of candidates that applied for an opening on the Council in October after former mayor Mike Siefkes quit. Ahmed was ultimately chosen to replace Siefkes.
OneAmerica, a nonprofit advocacy group for immigrants and refugees in Washington, issued a press release Tuesday night quoting prominent SeaTac residents reacting negatively to the Tombs pick.
“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,” SeaTac resident Mohamed Egal said in the press release. “It makes us sad, but it also demands we organize, so we have a city council that reflects our values and interests.”
OneAmerica said that Tombs is not connected to the immigrant community like Ahmed was. Ahmed, 52, moved to King County in 1999 and has worked for human services nonprofits in the region since 2002.
SeaTac resident Kongo Bamanayi told OneAmerica the Council was not supposed to pick Ahmed’s replacement until February.
“I was shocked when I found out they had already made a decision and it was a done deal,” he told OneAmerica.
In a joint statement to Patch, the Council said it picked Tombs because of his experience with planning – he was a member of the Planning Commission.
“Stanley Tombs was the council candidate with the highest qualifications to tackle many of the major issues facing the City during the next nine months. In 2019, the City Council will be considering a number of major initiatives including but not limited to: The City Comprehensive Plan update; an update to the City Shorelines Master Program; the City Center Plan Update; federally mandated regulations concerning small wireless facilities; the Airport’s Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP); North SeaTac Park long-term community impacts.”
The city is in the midst of a controversial bid to sell the SeaTac Market shopping plaza along International Boulevard to developers. But the businesses owners in the plaza, many who are immigrants, are vehemently opposed to the project.
Tombs will be sworn in on Jan. 22. He will serve until the November election, unless he is elected to keep the seat.
Featured Image: A city of SeaTac photo of Amina Ahmed.