De’Sean Quinn puts families, neighborhoods at top of agenda | TUKWILA MAYOR’S RACE

It's De'Sean Quinn’s desire to help Tukwila’s families and their neighborhoods – and his own family’s tradition of giving back to their communities – that has shaped what he would do as the city’s next mayor.

Tukwila mayoral candidate De'Sean Quinn shared hugs and handshakes after the candidates forum at Tukwila Elementary School in September.

When De’Sean Quinn talks about running for mayor of Tukwila, his thoughts turn to family – his own and the families of Tukwila.

He and his family, wife Nichole, and their kids Braxton and Kellen, are in Tukwila “by choice and not by chance.”

“Tukwila is an amazing place and it’s an amazing place to raise my family,” Quinn says. “And I am committed to the community.”

His parents, Henderson and Brenda, raised him to give back to his community, without expecting anything in return. And so did his grandfather, Arthur Simmons, who founded a drug-treatment facility in Seattle.

“He used to always tell me, ‘I made sacrifices to make this a better place for you. And you’re going to have to do that for the next generation.’ So that’s why I am in this,” Quinn said of his grandfather’s advice.

It’s Quinn’s desire to help Tukwila’s families and their neighborhoods – and his own family’s tradition of giving back to their communities – that has shaped what he would do as the city’s next mayor.

He offered this vision for Tukwila at the candidates forum in September at Tukwila Elementary School.

“Tukwila is a place where the city government says and demonstrates to its residents, ‘We see you. You matter.’ It’s a place for families to grow and thrive,” he told the forum.

Quinn distills his ideas into three main areas.

First on his list is public safety, which, he said, “is always a challenge.” He would institute foot and bicycle patrols in neighborhoods so residents would get to know their neighborhood police officer.

The city’s Police Department recently received a second federal COPS grant which it will use to directly pay for community liaisons to the community’s diverse population. Such proactive efforts by police officers will help prevent criminal activity from spilling over into Tukwila from other communities, he said.

Secondly, he wants to protect “our neighborhood character in Tukwila, because that’s one of the most amazing things about Tukwila – we have great neighborhoods.” To protect the city’s single-family neighborhoods, Quinn would drive and support “development where it needs to go, which is the urban center and along the transportation corridors.”

That concept has been discussed, he said, and now support must build to make it a reality.

Protecting the community’s quality of life will require an enhancement of code enforcement. To do so would require additional staff “and a little bit more money,” he said. There are innovative ways to improve a neighborhood’s “look,” including community cleanups and engaging the neighborhoods.

Quinn is interested in a neighborhood network, something the city doesn’t have today. That “little bit of money” he mentioned could go toward city grants that neighborhoods could add to their money for such projects as pocket parks or to clean up a neighbor’s property.

“That is how you keep the character but it’s also how you share the values,” he said. “Here’s an opportunity for neighborhoods to really work together.”

A goal would be to establish the neighborhood networks in his first year in office.

Partnering with the Tukwila School District is something he would continue as mayor because a characteristic of a thriving community is a “great education system,” he said. The city and school district already work together on an after-school program. Quinn said a private-public partnership could raise money that would focus on bringing programs to the schools, such as technology and the arts.

And, finally on Quinn’s list is attracting businesses by “conveying to any large business out there that Tukwila is a great place to have your business, to build your business,” he said. Tukwila has already built a foundation to do that, pointing to Boeing as an example, which brings working-class and middle-class families to the city.

“Economic development is going to be something that helps keep us viable. And with Renton and Kent and Burien at our borders, we need to stay relevant. We need to stay competitive,” he said.

Protecting the nature of the city’s single-family neighborhood played a key role in spurring the City Council to take a close look at wording in the update of Tukwila’s Comprehensive Plan, a “vision document” that’s updated every 15 to 20 years.

What became contentious, Quinn said, was how to implement the vision; some on the City Council and in the community took the “implementation strategies” literally, concerned they could lead to duplexes and townhomes and smaller lots in single-family neighborhoods based solely on the Comprehensive Plan.

While Quinn said that wouldn’t have happened, he proposed to the City Council in September new language that removed any mention of townhomes and duplexes and smaller lot sizes in the Comprehensive Plan update. The council approved the new wording.

Quinn also added language that specifically called for a robust neighborhood outreach process with mass mailings and neighborhood meetings, before any decisions are made about implementing the updated Comprehensive Plan, including allowing townhomes or duplexes.

“That’s something that wasn’t easy to find and clearly spelled out in the comp plan documents,” he said.

Work is also under way on Tukwila Village and since the closure of troubled motels on the Tukwila International Boulevard, crime in the area and even elsewhere in the city has dropped.

“The Boulevard is safer than it was two years ago,” Quinn said. “But we have a lot more to do. We need to continue to monitor the hotels and any activity that’s going on up there.”

Tukwila Village will go a long way toward changing the “trajectory” of the Boulevard and will help the city attract quality developers to the area.

In discussing his candidacy, Quinn talks about the importance of his job with two county executives as liaison to the County Council and to cities had in learning how to develop relationships with different branches of government.

“It would be a requirement for me to have a good relationship,” said Quinn, with the City Council. He would acknowledge the “great ideas” of council members. And he would have council members share the podium and speak when announcing an important accomplishment, such as receiving the COPS grant.

Tukwila has a “great” future ahead, Quinn said. He sees more growth and he would “love” to see more sidewalks in the neighborhoods. He hopes to see more development on Tukwila International Boulevard and growth in the city’s urban center of Southcenter.

He wants to see more families choosing Tukwila as a place to live.

“I see amazing things for Tukwila’s future, because it’s an amazing place to live,” Quinn said. “As long as we have a strong vision, as long as we have someone who has some experience and an ability to solve problems and build relationships, then I think we will be successful.”


De’Sean Quinn’s Top 10 contributors are mostly labor unions, businesses and two individuals. His Top 10 contributors reported to the Public Disclosure Commission as of Oct. 15 are:

• Amalgamated Transit Union Cope, Washington, D.C., $950

• Great Wall Investment Ltd., Kent, $950

• Martha Kongsgaard, Seattle, $950

• SEIU 1199 NW, Renton, $950

• SEIU 755, Seattle, $950

• SEIU Healthcare 1199 NW, Renton, $950

• Washington Teamsters Legislative League, Tukwila, $950

• Peter Goldman, Seattle, $750

• Tukwila Firefighters for Democracy, SeaTac, $750

• Black PAC, Seattle, $700

• Samatar Guled, Seattle, $550



PERSONAL: Age, 43, married to Nichole; they have two children, Braxton, 19 months, and Kellen, 7; lived in Tukwila for 13 years, now in the Thorndyke neighborhood. Born in Seattle, lived for a number of years in Yakima, before returning to Seattle with his parents.

EDUCATION: Graduate of Garfield High School; attended Morehouse College; University of Washington, bachelor’s degree in political science, 1999; King County Dispute Resolution Program, certificate, 2006.

PROFESSION: water quality planner/project manager, King County Wastewater Treatment Division.

POLITICAL ACTIVITIES: Tukwila City Council, member, 2008-present; County Council relations director and city relations manager for county Executive Ron Sims, 2004-2009; city relations manager for county Executive Dow Constantine, 2010-2012; 11th Legislative District Democrats, member.

COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Tukwila International Boulevard Action Committee, participant; Forterra board; One America board; Tukwila PTA, participant; Tukwila school bond committee, member; Alpha Phil Alpha Fraternity Inc.

MAJOR ENDORSEMENTS: Joe Duffie, Verna Seal, Pam Linder, Georgina Kerr, Mary Fertakis, Dow Constantine, Ron Lamb, Pat Larson, Zack Hudgins, King County Democrats/11th Legislative District Democrats, Aerospace Machinist Union, Amalgamated Transit Union 587, Washington Conservation Voters, Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Council, Teamsters, SEIU 775, International Association of Fire Fighters, Tukwila Local 2088.

CONTACT: By phone, 206-331-5939. Website, email,,,



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