Burien council candidates supportive of “sanctuary” policies gain lead

Four Burien City Council candidates are coming out on top over four more conservative candidates running with the slogan “Burien Proud, Burien First.” (Photo via Elect Jimmy Matta for Burien Facebook page.)

Two city council races have taken a turn since election night in Burien, where a political battle over immigration heavily influenced its city council campaigns. The four candidates labeled as promoting more progressive policies have seen the greatest gains in recent returns.

Challenger Jimmy Matta, who trailed on election night, now leads incumbent Debi Wagner by 239 votes in the race for her Burien city council seat. Pedro Olguin, who was behind Joel Manning on election night, now has a lead of 150 votes.

In the other two races, Deputy Mayor Nancy Tosta and candidate Krystal Marx extended their leads from election night over their opponents Darla Green and Patsy Janssen.

Wagner, Manning, Green and Janssen all ran under the slogan “Burien Proud, Burien First,” with platforms that included opposition to the ordinance that blocks city officials from asking people about immigration status or religion.

The four also all had been endorsed by Respect Washington, a group founded by Craig Keller, the person who pushed the initiative for a ballot measure to revoke the city’s so-called sanctuary laws. Respect Washington sent a letter to voters a week before the election, also including a list of purported addresses of undocumented immigrants and linking those addresses to crimes. King County Sheriff John Urquhart (who is trailing in his bid for re-election) told Univision Seattle two weeks ago that the list contained inaccuracies.

While Wagner and Green signed the initiative to ask voters whether the city should keep the sanctuary ordinance, all four candidates listed on the the Respect Washington letter disavowed the mailing and said they had not sought the endorsement of the group.

Matta posted on his official Facebook page on Thursday, after he pulled ahead of Wagner in second-day returns: “We must elevate Burien to a different level, and that level is mutual respect for everyone in our community.”

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