Tukwila Mayor Allan Ekberg announced Jan. 5 he will run for reelection this year.
According his speech from the ceremony, he said he is choosing to run for mayor again based off of community support and encouragement.
Ekberg said he chose to announce his candidacy early in the year because he wanted to make sure residents and citizens recognized that he is going to run.
“I just wanted to get ahead of the game, let people know that I’m running for office for 2019 for Mayor of Tukwila,” he said.
Ekberg now in his fourth year as mayor, said he is running again because there’s still work to be done in the city.
He said he had a feeling he would want to run for mayor one day because he has always had a passion for helping the city of Tukwila.
One of the many things Ekberg fought for was working toward annexing local neighborhoods that were once considered unincorporated King County into the Tukwila city proper, he said.
That was an issue that he and his wife fought together for, he said.
Ekberg said he also helped Thorndyke Elementary School, Foster High School and other schools become part of the Tukwila School District.
He said, that was all accomplished in 1991 — when he served as a councilmember.
“Someone said once that effort to do the annexation happened, why don’t you run for (council) and become the voice of the people because you’ve been standing up on behalf of the people. So I listened to them and at 29 years old I could do anything and I ran for office and I won. Walked into actually, no one ran against me, which was fortunate,” Ekberg said. “But my mind was in the right place. My mind was around, how do we (maintain) our residential character of this great city at the same not lose some of the culture and diversity that we have. And that’s been something in my mind for along time.”
By the end of his eight years on council, Ekberg said he and the other council members had accomplished comprehensive plans and zoning code changes that anchored the next 20 years of zoning for residential use in the city.
While he loved serving his community, Ekberg wanted to spend more time with his son and daughter, who were 8 and 6 years old at the time.
As a result, he decided to step down from the council.
But, the mayor of Tukwila at the time asked him to be on the planning commission and Ekberg said he accepted because he felt comfortable doing meetings once a month while still being with his family.
Then in the early 2000s, Ekberg said he had felt that he wanted to run for mayor sooner or later.
“Couple years before I ran for office in 2008, I had an inkling I wanted to be the mayor one day. And a real good, almost mother figure, I’ll say mother figure for me, said ‘Allan, if you want to mayor one day you should get back on the city council.’ And I kind of hung my head and said ‘I’ve already done that,”’ Ekberg said. “But I took her advice and I ran (for council) in that case it was a three way race, so I was challenged twice. Six years later, Jim Haggerton, the mayor at the time, retired, so I ran for that race and got the win.”
Looking back when he started as mayor to now, Ekberg said he and the city have accomplished a lot that he is proud of and said he set the foundation for another four years of success.
He said he did this by listening to the people of Tukwila.
Part of that foundation that he laid for future success was hiring new directors in the city that mesh well with what the city needs.
“All of them (previous directors) have done a really good job for the city, but we’re in a new age. A new age of technology, a new age of innovation. And the speed of things has changed. So with the folks who I have been hiring — I’ve hired a fire chief, police chief, public works director, information technology director and then next year my finance director is retiring so I’ll have my fifth. There’s just opportunities to take advantage of with technology in public works and fire and police,” Ekberg explained.
According to Ekberg, he wanted to make sure the citizens of the city were being heard, so he implemented a program called “Tukwila Works.”
Tukwila Works is an online application where anyone in the city can share an issue they are having.
For example, community members can report a pothole in a specific location to Tukwila Works and that will notify the department in charge of taking care of potholes.
He said he also listens to the school district and one of the accomplishments of his within the school district was launching free Wi-Fi along International Boulevard and Military Road, so that students who did not have Wi-Fi at home can now use the Chromebooks they received from the school to do homework on.
Within the next year, Ekberg said they’re going to extend the Wi-Fi further with more hotspots.
Looking to the future, if he is reelected as mayor, Ekberg said he wants to launch an apprenticeship program.
“This last year I’ve had conversations with different educators around (about) how do we let our youth know about different programs. I’ve said this publicly before; students in school know that there’s the military, they know about retail employment and know all about college because they’re being asked to go to college or being pushed to go to college. But they don’t know about apprenticeship programs and the labor market,” he explained. “They’re really high, well paying jobs and our youth don’t know about it and so I want them to know about it. So that’s an initiative I’m doing in 2019, so I’m pretty excited about that.”
One of the things he would change if he could, in the future, would be working more collaboratively with the city council.
When asked what it meant to him to be mayor of the city he grew up in, Ekberg teared up and said, “It means something really special. I’ve always tried to give back to my community. I grew up here, you know, went to Foster High School. And I really love the community and I could tear up over it anytime because I do love the community. And people recognize that, I think and I believe. I can see a great future for this community as we continue to grow and continue to bring more people in, we open up more housing, affordable housing opportunities.”
Those interested in running for mayor will need to file online or in-person to King County Elections office between May 13 to May 17, 2019.