Highline alumni get political
By Mitchell Roland- Staff Reporter
The number of Highline alumni making their marks on local politics is increasing.
Elected in the November elections, Krystal Marx of Burien joins Joseph Cimaomo, Jr. of Covington and Austin Bell of Burien as alumni who have been elected to area city councils.
Cimaomo was elected to serve a second term, and Bell's first term is up in 2019.
A graduate of Highline in 2006, Marx is the director of development of NAMI Washington, which is the National Alliance of Mental Illness. She also serves as president of the Board of Unexpected Productions in Pike Place Market.
Marx said her professional experience since leaving Highline has "primarily been in small, local non-profits focused on health and education, serving the state or Greater Seattle area."
She also volunteers in programs that focus on increasing community involvement, developing and providing free community education classes on self-defense, bystander intervention and used needle pickup.
She said that Highline was her first "real experience" in higher education.
While Marx was not in any specific leadership programs at Highline, she said that the school "opened her eyes to the problems that people care about."
One of those problems is affordable housing, which is something she would like to work on during her time on Burien's City Council.
"A lot of people are concerned about affordable housing," Marx said.
Marx said she wanted to be on the Burien City Council "so that more could be done for our marginalized communities."
She said she believes she can get a lot of her ideas accomplished, as the current makeup of the council is five progressives and two conservatives.
Marx also advises current students who want to become local leaders "to know your strengths, be able to talk about them, and get involved now (not later)."
Cimaomo is another local product, having graduated from Kentwood High School in Covington in 2005 and then from Highline in 2009. He is currently a warehouse associate at Ferguson Enterprises, which is a plumbing supply company.
He majored in history while he was at Highline, and said that "the teachers I had were very well-versed in history."
While he thought about it, he was not involved in any leadership programs while in school because he "didn't have the time, unfortunately."
Cimaomo said he first ran for Covington City Council because "I saw there was something missing and that was the voice of the young family. When I first ran I had a young family and no where to take them [his family] in the city."
With his first term on the council nearly complete, he said the council is "building for the future and have places to take my family with more to come."
He said that during his second term he wants to focus on funding for Covington's busiest roads, and "better ways we can work with the community to help the police department."
His advice for current students is to "listen to all the information being given, don't be closed-minded on the topic."
Cimaomo also advised students to "get involved in some way." He said that most cities have commissions that students can apply for where they can work on projects ranging from "planning to parks and recreation to human services."