Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen recently became the Sound Cities Association president, a position that represents 38 cities and more than one million people across King County.
SCA was founded 40 years ago and aims to create collaboration among cities and counties to improve communities locally and as a region. Walen said she plans to continue SCA’s focus on economic and community development, transportation, land use, health, the environment, education, public safety, social welfare and other public policy issues.
“It’s a huge honor and a privilege, I was thrilled,” Walen said about becoming SCA president. “What we’re really good at in city government is being collegial and working with people and not dividing on party lines…I think that we make policy better in this region.”
In SCA, each city’s representative gets a single vote, regardless of population or size — which means each voice matters equally when the organization takes a stance on an issue or public policy.
SCA avoids divisive issues and members put aside differences to better individual cities and the region as a whole, according Walen.
“If we can’t agree, then we don’t take a position on it,” she said. “So when we do speak it’s because we’re speaking for all the people in the region and that is a very powerful tool and a very powerful voice.”
The SCA board of directors, which is made up of mayors and council members from various cities, elected Walen after her previous roles as treasurer and vice president under Kenmore Mayor David Baker.
“Mayor Walen is a strong and dedicated leader who gets things done for our region,” King County Council member Rod Dembowski said in a press release. “Whether the issue is transportation, parks and open space or human services, she works hard on the challenges facing our communities and gets results. I always look forward to working with her and am excited to partner with her in her new role as president of Sound Cities Association.”
Walen added that as this year’s president, she wants to focus on the sustainability of the organization by keeping it relevant and important to local cities. SCA and its policy staff often help solve policy issues for smaller cities that may have limited staff.
“From transportation infrastructure to homelessness and from growing family wage jobs to providing human services, we face a number of tough challenges in our region,” Walen said. “SCA serves as an important catalyst by creating solutions through innovative local and regional partnerships. The results help me better serve the residents of Kirkland.”
Walen has been an SCA member since she first took office as a Kirkland City Council member in 2010. Many Kirkland elected officials were part of the organization before Walen and she said she’s excited to be more involved in deciding what SCA works on.
The president works closely with the board of directors, executive committee and officials to develop a strategic plan for SCA.
“I look forward to working with SCA president Walen and the other board members in the coming year,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine in the press release.
Walen is currently serving her third four-year term on Kirkland City Council and her third two-year term as mayor. Additionally, she is the chief financial officer at Ford Hyundai of Kirkland, located in Totem Lake.
“Mayor Walen is a passionate advocate for cities who also brings a thoughtful, gracious and inclusive leadership style,” said King County Council member Claudia Balducci. “With Mayor Walen at the helm, 2018 will no doubt be a successful year for Sound Cities Association.”