The Bothell City Council unanimously approved a resolution to promote and reaffirm that the city is a welcoming, safe and inclusive place to live, work, go to school and visit.
“It’s who we are today and how we’ll continue in the future,” Bothell City Manager Jennifer Phillips said before the council voted on the resolution. “It’s also how I lead.”
The resolution had been in the works for months. Various community members, including students and faculty from the University of Washington Bothell and members of the Bothell Alliance for Justice have spoken at city council meetings since the election of Pres. Donald Trump advocating for such a resolution or even that the city become a “sanctuary city” for immigrants (which the council opted not to pursue). Community members also worked with Bothell Interim City Attorney Paul Byrne and the council to determine the language of the resolution.
During the Feb. 7 council meeting, before approving it, the council spent approximately one hour discussing language changes to the resolution, removing lists that included race, immigration status, gender identity, faith and other factors that sometimes lead to someone being discriminated against.
“We shouldn’t limit it to specific individuals,” Councilmember James McNeal said.
“I’m in favor of getting rid of lists,” Deputy Mayor Davina Duerr added.
The council opted to get rid of the lists in an effort to make the resolution more inclusive and more streamlined. As approved, it simply states, “the Council of the City of Bothell strongly condemns acts of hate, violence, intimidation, harassment or any similar acts that are directed at any member of our community.”
Councilmember Tris Samberg also pushed for removal of lists and added language to the resolution recognizing the Bothell Police Department’s policy of not inquiring into anyone’s immigration status.
During his comments on the resolution, Councilmember Josh Freed made a point of citing how Christians are a religious group that has been persecuted, too, giving examples in the Middle East and other places outside of the United States. He also advocated for the removal of some of the lists in the resolution.
“This statement is limited to the city, but I know it’s our view on the world as well,” he said before voting to approve the resolution.
“We’re acting not just as councilmembers up here, but as neighbors,” Councilmember Del Spivey added.
The approved resolution can be found at bothellwa.gov. More information about the resolution, including the agenda packet for and video of the Feb. 7 council meeting, can also be found on the city’s website.
Before the resolution was approved, members of the audience at the meeting made statements in support of and against it.
“What we’re trying to do is the right thing,” Councilmember Tom Agnew said. “Some people will say we haven’t gone far enough, and others will say we’ve gone too far.”
“I was surprised some people thought this was a waste of time,” Duerr added. “I don’t think anyone should feel scared to live in the City of Bothell. … Our job as local officials is to reassure people that … we’re here to provide stability.”
Bothell Mayor Andy Rheaume said he hopes the resolution goes beyond words and into action in making all people in Bothell feel safe and included.
“I hope this is the beginning (of work to make the community more welcoming),” he said.
Meanwhile, in the state Legislature, Rep. Derek Stanford and Sen. Guy Palumbo have been advocating for HB 1956 and SB 5308, which limit the disclosure of information about the religious affiliation of individuals.
The bill states, “An agency shall not provide or disclose to federal authorities personal information regarding the religious affiliation of any individual that is requested for the purpose of compiling a database of individuals based solely on religious affiliation.”
More information about it can be found online at leg.wa.gov.