On May 21st, 2015 Pacifica Institute hosted Bellevue City Mayor Claudia Balducci for Luncheon. Claudia Balducci has served on the Bellevue City Council since 2004. The topic for the luncheon was Government Responses to Diversity.
First, Balducci engaged the audience by asking what parts of the city they were from. Throughout the lecture, she emphasized that “Bellevue welcomes the world,” it is very international and diverse, and that it is one of the most diverse cities. In fact, ethnic minorities make up 41 percent of the city’s population, which makes Bellevue more diverse than Seattle. She added the following: “It is not that just that we are very diverse, it is that we are rapidly changing.” In downtown Bellevue, our population on average is 37 years old – a drop from 54 from only a couple of years ago.
The council provides various services: they write laws and enforce laws to their people and that requires “the consent and trust of the governed,” explains Balducci. “We try to set out policies, aspirations, dreams for our community.” She also added, “We need to leverage the wonderful diversity and people we have here to make it into a place that can be the best it can be.”
One of the services offered by the council include Cultural Conversations. This particular program, first requested by Bellevue residents, was designed to bring together women from different backgrounds and to share their stories in order to build a stronger community based on communication and understanding. The city helps facilitate space and time as well as ask two important questions: What would you like to know about other women here today? And, what would you like them to know about you? This program has lead to deep discussions among women from different backgrounds for five years now. As a wrap-up, Balducci emphasized that strength of Bellevue lies in diversity and that Bellevue welcomes the world. Mr. Tezcan Inanlar, Northwest Regional Director of Pacifica Institute, thanked Mayor Balducci for her well-addressed talk and insights, and welcomed attendees to open discussion.