Councilmember Tim Burgess is serving his second term on the Seattle City Council. His background in
prepare him to be a strong advocate for public policy driven by facts, measurable outcomes and strong accountability. He provides a progressive voice for justice, economic growth and a strong and effective public education system.
Growing up, money was in short supply. Dad sold office supplies door-to-door downtown, not always successfully. Mom worked in the Meany School cafeteria, and we kids would walk from our elementary school to Meany where the cafeteria workers would feed us leftovers—in case there wasn't enough at home for dinner. We had medical care because Dr. Denham treated us for free. And when I was 12, we had to move because Mom and Dad couldn’t make the mortgage payments on our house on Capitol Hill.
I know the anxiety of living hand to mouth."
Education wasn’t a big value in our family (Dad was 22 before he was able to finish high school). But two teachers believed in me. Mr. McDonald taught me the power of words. When I graduated I got a full-time job as a news reporter at KJR radio (thank you, Mrs. Chapin) and went to college on the side.
I know the value of great teachers who believe in their students and hold them to high standards, no matter their background or socio-economic status."
I covered the massive city corruption scandal for my radio station in the late ‘60s. I saw first-hand injustice and the need for open, transparent political and public safety sectors. I also saw the difference just a few dedicated people could make in transforming the system of corruption.
The experience was formative for me—I became passionate about the need for justice, ethical leaders, and a level playing field for all citizens."
After reporting on police issues and witnessing the transition to reform, I applied to the Seattle Department. This was an awakening for me. I interacted with people in all parts of the city, usually in the middle of crisis. I talked with victims, and offenders. I witnessed a police culture that needed taming.
And I saw the real strain on and the courage of our officers who put their lives on the line for us, day after day."
After seven years as a police officer and detective, and in my youthful idealism, I wanted to change the world! I traveled with an international relief and development agency to Asia, Africa and Latin America, documenting the needs of the poorest of the poor. In India I saw piles of grain destined for export, guarded by armed troops—while India’s poor went hungry. In a refugee camp on the Thai-Cambodian border I could hear gunfire across the river at night, and talked with scared families huddled for safety in unsanitary conditions. And I held a baby girl, too weak to cry, her tummy bloated and arms and legs like sticks, in her last moments of life.
I learned that hunger and poverty are justice issues, not simply a lack of resources."
Many groups and dedicated people are making a real difference in our world. I started a communications consulting company to help them communicate the great work they are doing and to match them with people who shared their concern and would help support their work. I grew it more than 150 employees in offices in Seattle, London, and Paris. In the process I felt the responsibility to my employees, and learned to manage the bottom line.
We have a lot to learn in government from those who create jobs to fuel our economy."
While traveling around the world, I remained committed to our city. Joleen and I raised our three daughters here. I got involved in neighborhood issues on the community council, and I served 12 years on the City’s Ethics and Elections Commission, five of them as chair. I closely followed city government, and wrote op-eds on occasion for the newspaper about local issues.
Nothing gives me more satisfaction than serving you, the people of Seattle, in making our city a great place to live, work, and play, to raise our children and to grow old together."