Posted on 12 February 2009.
In 1986, when both Ron Sims and Bruce Laing were members of the County Council, they co-sponsored changing the name of King County to Martin Luther King Junior County. On April 19, 2005, with the efforts of Seattle Councilmember Larry Gossett and many others, this motion was realized when King County was renamed. That milestone date was the happy ending to Ron Sims’ nearly 20-year pursuit.
King County was originally named after William Rufus King, the vice president of Franklin Pierce. Changing the name was expensive, as it meant changing the state charters of all counties, replacing the logo everywhere, and changing state law — however, Sims and his colleagues thought it was necessary, as it was meant to honor the civil rights leader and his fight for justice and equality, something they felt King County stands for.
We agree. This is one of the many reasons why we will miss Ron Sims as King County executive when he leaves Seattle for Washington, D.C., to become Obama’s deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. We suspect that his integrity is also part of the reason Obama chose to nominate him.
Sims is a man whose focus isn’t just on the bottom line. He fought for King County’s renaming even though it was a costly measure. He did it because he felt it was the right thing to do, and we commend him for that.
Sims is known for helping to launch the King County Equity & Social Justice Initiative in 2008. Meant to eliminate long-standing and persistent inequities and social injustices, the goal of the initiative is for all communities in King County to be equipped with the means to provide individuals with access to livable wage, affordable housing, quality education, quality heath care, and safe and vibrant neighborhoods.
Sims has funded several housing projects by Low Income Housing Institute, Inter*Im, Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority, Korean Women’s Association, Neighborhood House, and International District Housing Alliance.
Sims has provided capital funding to the organizations we care about: the Asian Counseling and Referral Service, the Wing Luke Asian Museum, the Chinatown Gate, and the Filipino Community Center. And he is the founder of Pista sa Nayon, a Filipino American community festival.
Sims is an environmentalist. He is gutsy, never afraid to speak out against the majority on the issues he believes in. Notably, Sims was one of the first to speak up for Seattle’s LGBT community back when it wasn’t yet popular to do so. We
Sims has been a strong ally for the Asian American community, so much so that we are apprehensive about the person who will replace him and whether he or she will continue Sims’ commitment to social justice. One thing is for sure, though — Northwest Asian Weekly will miss Sims’ smiling face. ■
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