Justin, Ashley and Jimmy at District 5's Carkeek Park
Justin Simmons is a lifelong resident of what is now Seattle’s City Council District 5. For more than 20 years, he has served as a community volunteer and civic activist. He is a four-term past president of the Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle, a past president of the Church Council of Greater Seattle (a 100 year-old, progressive, ecumenical and social justice advocacy organization, where he oversaw direct service programs dedicated to transitional housing and homelessness), and a past president of the Multicultural Alumni Partnership at the University of Washington Alumni Association. Justin has worked as an event coordinator for the UW Alumni Association, an administrator for the Seattle Metropolitan Chapter of the United Nations Association, a loaned executive fundraiser for the United Way of King County, and as a writer, journalist, teacher, and small business owner during his travels abroad.
In District 5, Justin has served for the past fourteen years as an elected precinct committee officer (PCO). He has been a creek steward for Broadview Creek, and served six years on the Broadview Community Council, where he worked on the revitalization of Linden Avenue North. He served six years on the executive board of the 46th District Democrats, before being redistricted to the 32nd legislative district.
Justin has a proven track record of working closely with policy makers and diverse communities in Seattle and King County to bring about positive change. He feels called to run for office to help heal the city he was raised in, where he is now raising his own family. His campaign is focused on finding better systemic solutions to the multiple interwoven crises afflicting us: public safety and public health, including behavioral health, drug and sex trafficking, theft, vandalism, home invasion, hate crimes and gun violence; homelessness and transitional housing; affordable housing for all, including renters, seniors and other residents with fixed incomes; discrimination and injustice in all aspects of our shared community; equity in and equal access to education and transportation; protecting local businesses, our beautiful public spaces, and the unique character of Seattle and its neighborhoods; and accessibility, transparency and accountability from public servants and law enforcement.
The Simmons Family is well known in Seattle as a force for social justice. Justin's parents, Drs. Carol and Jim, professors and principals in the Seattle Public Schools, were also career-long activists in the field of education, advocates for underserved students, and influential allies of vulnerable and marginalized communities. They brought Justin up in a tradition of civic engagement and public service with the help of his grandmother, herself a retired Seattle Public Schools principal, who used to take Justin with her in his baby stroller, as she doorbelled for U.S. Senator Warren Magnuson. Justin attended Meridian Elementary School, Einstein Middle School, Ingraham High School, and the University of Washington, where he joined Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity and majored in philosophy.
Justin has traveled widely, domestically, and abroad. He attended grammar school at the British Academy in Caracas, Venezuela. He taught English and worked as a journalist in Taipei, Taiwan, where he helped cover the first free elections in Chinese political history. He wrote for the state newspaper and ran a successful mountain bike tour business while living in Oaxaca de Juarez, Mexico. He has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, Central and South America, Africa and the Middle East, Eastern and Western Europe, India, East Asia and the South Pacific.
The call to all Americans to aid in the relief effort following the attacks on 9/11/2001 found Justin working for the United Way of King County as a loaned executive (corporate fundraiser) for human services in the travel and transportation industries. His interest in public policy and politics was galvanized by his experience working directly with companies and employees impacted by 9/11, and with the many non-profit agencies that combine to provide a critical safety net for all people in our community.
Witnessing the devastating loss of services and jobs caused by the economic downturn and cuts in government funding, together with the catastrophic rush to war and the subsequent erosion of the U.S. Constitution, Justin resolved that systemic change must occur at a policy-making level, in order to protect our precious individual freedoms and sustain the quality of life we all deserve.
Justin is a leader in our community, who has volunteered for a variety of organizations. He is a former president of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, a former board member of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ, and a member of Plymouth Congregational Church. He has served on the executive board of the Seattle Metropolitan Chapter of the United Nations Association, and many years on the planning committees for Seattle Human Rights Day and Seattle Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Justin has served as a citizen councilor in the King County Community Forums program, and has worked with the Municipal League of King County and sponsored its Candidate Evaluation Report. He is a member of the Block Table and Daylight Masonic Lodge of the Arts, and an associate member of the United Steelworkers of America. In 2009, Justin served as a community ambassador for Seattle Mayor-elect Mike McGinn, and later helped advise the mayor and city attorney in an unofficial capacity.
At the University of Washington, Justin served as president and advisor of the UW Alumni Association’s Multicultural Alumni Partnership (MAP), board member of the UW Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity’s Friends of the Educational Opportunity Program (FEOP), board member of the UWAA Academic and Special Interest Clubs Advisory Council, and on the UW Diversity Council. Justin worked for the UW Alumni Association as coordinator for the MAP Bridging the Gap Breakfast, the UW’s largest non-athletic annual event besides commencement which, for 30 years, has honored alumni and community members who have made extraordinary contributions to diversity, equal opportunity and social justice, and awarded scholarships to a multicultural group of economically disadvantaged UW students.
In his political life, Justin is an elected precinct committee officer in the 32nd legislative district, a four-term past president of the Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle (a progressive, good government organization serving the Greater Seattle Area since 1956), and a four-term past member of the 46th District Democrats Executive Board. He has served on the Young Democrats of Washington Executive Board, the King County Democratic Central Committee Executive Board, the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and the board of the WA State Democrats Progressive Caucus. He is a co-founder of the Progressive Democratic Caucuses of WA, and an alumnus of both the Institute for a Democratic Future and Camp Wellstone. He was an elected delegate to the WA State Democratic Convention in 2004, 2006, and 2010, and a guest at the Democratic National Convention in 2008. Over the years, Justin has served on steering committees or consulted for dozens of candidates at every level of government. In 2013, he chaired former Seattle City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck’s start-up campaign for Mayor of Seattle.
Justin recently renovated and moved back into the Broadview home where he grew up, with Ashley, his partner of over 16 years; Jimmy (James Tiberius), his four-year-old son; and Travis, the traveling cat.