Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus recently announced her candidacy for a third term.
“I did not think I could love Auburn more,” Backus wrote in a press release announcing her decision. “What I have seen in our community as we have faced arguably the biggest crises of our lifetimes.
“I know we have so much more great work we can do together. I have been here for you during the challenging times and will be here to help lead us through it, too,” Backus said.
Backus, who was elected to her first term as mayor in 2014, is the first female to hold the office in since Auburn was incorporated in 1891. Before that, she served 10 years on the Auburn City Council and spent 25 years as a financial manager for the Boeing Company.
Auburn is a community, Backus said, that prides itself on working together — its ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic was made easier because of who the people of Auburn are. She said that while the crisis has deeply affected so much of everyone’s lives and so many are still suffering, the community has been able to respond in ways she said she never would have imagined because of the strength of those partnerships.
“In my last campaign, I committed to strengthen Auburn’s economic growth, protect quality of life and invest in better transportation and we have delivered on those promises,” Backus said.
Since taking office, Backus said her administration has continued to strengthen the city’s economy, faced down the homelessness and opioid crises by working across the region to bring resources and solutions to these complex problems while also continuing to invest in the city’s parks and recreational opportunities. The city has been assured that King County Metro, Sound Transit and Pierce Transit will continue to provide equitable service levels to South King County’s transit-dependent residents.
Like any city, she said, Auburn has areas that can be improved, but she still loves the job.
“Economic development is one of those areas where you want to see more done. But obviously, recovery from the pandemic and bringing our community back together, the healing in that. Working on diversity, equity and inclusion issues, police reform and homelessness. Those are all big issues we’re making headway on. I’m a believer that we’re working in the right direction and I want to be a part of that solution,” Backus said.
Auburn has also responded with urgency to the demands for social justice, Backus said, adding that she has been honored to advance, make official and with the help of the Auburn City Council fund the city’s equity and inclusion initiative.
That effort began in earnest several years ago, she said, and in 2019, the city made it official when the city council passed Resolution #5427 to create the Inclusive Auburn Initiative to accomplish the following goals: to eliminate systemic causes of disparities, racial and otherwise, in the City of Auburn; promote inclusion and create opportunities for full participation for every resident and business in the City of Auburn; and reduce, and eventually eliminate, disparities of outcomes in the community.
Standing at the starting line of a new campaign for mayor in 2021 was not where Backus had expected to be three and a half years ago. At the conclusion of a brutal mayoral campaign against then-challenger and Auburn City Councilwoman Largo Wales, Backus told the Auburn Reporter she would not seek a third term.
It had all been too ugly.
Backus explained how she got her mojo back.
“It had been a very challenging campaign,” Backus said, “where my integrity was being challenged every day…and I saw what that had done to my family, and especially to my immediate family, and after an ugly campaign like that, I just really wasn’t sure I was wanting to go through that again.
“I’ve also seen some people in a third term turn a little stale, and I certainly didn’t want to do that,” Backus said. “But the realization in the last three years since then is that the work is not done. I certainly still have a passion for it, especially during the pandemic. And then I think people need proven, experienced leadership, and all the relationships that have been established to help Auburn in recovery. So, that’s why I chose to try for one more term,” Backus said.