“No Annexation” signs produced by Save Burien First PAC attached to the fence outside of the registered voting address of Lee Rabie, the trailer park located at the north end of Ambaum Boulevard in of northwest Burien.
Pro Seattle Annexation PAC Backs Wagner, Armstrong and Block in Council Race
By Matt Wendland
A new Political Action Committee (PAC) named Save Burien First has thrown its support behind Burien City Council candidates Debi Wagner, Steve Armstrong and incumbent Jack Block, Jr. by purchasing “No Annexation” signs with each of the candidates’ names. These signs are now peppered throughout Burien.
Save Burien First’s campaign manager, Rodger DeLorm, is a registered voter in Burien but only one of the three contributors to the PAC are actually located in Burien. The two remaining contributors are well known anti-Burien annexation supporters. One member, Mark Ufkes, has a long history of speaking out against the City of Burien’s actions, attending numerous public comment sessions at Burien City Council meetings despite having no business or residence in Burien. Ufkes was, however, the President of the White Center Chamber of Commerce for a number of years and was harshly criticized by many White Center business owners for making statements as president that they claimed did not accurately represent the business community there. In March. 2013, Ukfes was replaced as president by Aileen Sison. Ufkes remains on the Chamber board. A second member who contributed to the PAC is Don Malo, the owner of Malo Auto Body in White Center. Malo has long been involved in the Highline area, doing business in the region for more than twice the time Burien has been a city, over 40 years.
In 2012 Malo donated $700 to an anti-Burien PAC and co-authored an Op-Ed piece in the Seattle Times with Ufkes on November 2, 2012 encouraging voters to distance themselves from Burien and claiming that the City of Burien supports higher taxes and fees and implying that expanding social services and public safety investments are not a priority for Burien. The only registered Burien voter and third and final contributor to the Save Burien First PAC is Lee Rabie, the owner of a mobile home park on the north end of Ambaum Boulevard at the intersection of S.W. 120th Street and 12th Ave S.W. Rabie individually donated $400 to the PAC. In the 2012 election, he donated$1,000 to an anti Burien PAC and according to the Washington State PDC website, donated more than $50,000 to a group opposing the tunnel project in Seattle in 2010 and 11. Rabie was also the source of a 2012 mailer. In the mailer, Rabie claimed that the City of Burien did not respect private property and had financially cheated him during a construction project on Ambaum Boulevard near his property.
Research into the project in question revealed that the construction project and dispute was with a King County contracted party and did not involve the City of Burien.
Even the photos used in the mailer displayed King County employees and private construction workers without any sign of City of Burien personnel. The Save Burien First PAC isn’t the first group in Highline to attempt to influence an election while misrepresenting themselves as from a particular neighborhood. While the majority of Save Burien First’s funding has come from outside of Burien, in the 2012 election, Political Action Committee Independent White Center was funded by Burien residents, many living on Lake Burien or the neighborhoods in West Burien, rather than the North Highline neighborhood of White Center.
Independent White Center distributed numerous slim-jims and hand-bills with claims of cut services and skyrocketing taxes for business and individuals who aligned themselves with the City of Burien. The claims were backed by either no evidence or ambiguous statements and laws pulled from various documents and meetings across the previous ten years. While the claims of Independent White Center were publicly
declared as false by private and public parties, including representatives at state, county and city levels, the PAC continued to distribute the publicly ridiculed material until the end of
According to the PDC, Rabie, Ufkes, Malo and DeLorm were all contributors to Independent White Center with a combined donation of $2,830 to the PAC. Independent White Center was also supported by current Burien City Council candidate Debi Wagner as well as West Burien
resident John Poitras. While the PDC shows no record of financial support, one of the most vocal supporters of Independent White Center in 2012 was Chestine Edgar, the wife of Burien City Council member Bob Edgar and advisor of Debi Wagner’s current Burien City Council campaign.
Ms. Edgar publicly proclaimed at numerous public meetings during the 2012 election that she was behind the research used to create the propaganda distributed by Independent White Center. These meetings are well documented by the City of Burien and a number of local and regional news sources. Ms. Edgar is responsible for the requests of thousands of pages of public documents on various topics such as zoning, budgets, and building plans. In a public meeting in late 2011, former Burien City Manager Mike Martin speculated that the fulfillment of these requests occupies the majority of one full-time City employee’s time.
Attempts were made to reach Chestine Edgar, Jack Block, Jr., and Rodger DeLorm, but none have responded to messages asking for comment on the Save Burien First PAC. Cindi Laws, Campaign Manager for Jack Block Jr's reelection campaign, said that their campaign is in no way coordinating with Save Burien First and that any red signs seen in Burien reading “No Annexation” with Jack Block’s name were in no way associated with their campaign. Candidate Debi Wagner declined to comment on Save Burien First except to say that the only connection she has with the backers of the PAC is as fellow community members and that the distribution of their signs is not a coordinated effort.
To-date, Save Burien First has raised $1,000. $725.44 was reported to have been used to purchase the “No Annexation” signs from Boruck Printing & Silkscreen in north Seattle on October 15.
Ballots for the upcoming general election must be returned by November 5th.