Juarez, a first-term councilmember, is a former public defender and King County Superior Court judge. She has quickly developed a reputation at City Hall also as a researcher, and someone who isn’t afraid to drop an F-bomb to make a point.
“You don’t even know, motherfucker, what I’ve done,” Juarez said, talking indirectly about the fans who criticized her vote last year, who hadn’t see the research she did before the SoDo arena street vacation vote. It is a phrase reflexively prompted by the incredible, and unprecedented, backlash towards council members after a majority voted to reject a street vacation petition on May 2, 2016. That vote would have cleared the way for Chris Hansen’s investment group to build a new arena in SoDo. Juarez had been working on the issue since her initial days in office.
The vote was 5-4. The five female council members voted no. The four male council members voted yes. Liberal Seattle got an earful that some people in this city believe is only reserved in rural, conservative America.
“It shoulda been called a hate crime,” Juarez said, “It was, 'You’re a cunt. You’re a whore. You’re a dumb bitch,'” She says, in detail, there were calls to her office saying they knew where she lived and, according to Juarez, there were social media threats to her children and Seattle Police were forced to come to her house.
“It wasn’t backlash,” she said, “It was violent.”
Juarez acknowledges she was disappointed in Seattle, and the local media in particular.
“(They) were personal threats at us – that’s OK? Because it has to do with the Sonics?" she said. "That was wrong and you guys should be held accountable for that."
She said, asking a rhetorical question, “What if that happened to your young daughter?”
“Would you say, 'Honey. That’s just how men are? They just really want a Sonics team. That’s OK they want to rape you.'” She continued, “The hypocrisy of sexism – it was OK for Mr. Hansen and his band of merry followers including the press and the knuckleheads on the radio,” she said. “He should have immediately said, "This is wrong.'”
Hansen’s team did release a statement within 48 hours of the vote, condemning the threats.
But the damage may have already been done. The local political landscape was seismically changed.
“I was slapped upside the head for being a woman, and having an opinion about a sport,” Juarez said.
The SoDo Arena effort was torched, even if Hansen and his friends had nothing to do with it.
Juarez acknowledges she was skeptical KeyArena would ever be discussed as a potential location for a new arena. She said as much in the days after the vote. The infamous, and often quoted, AECOM report, which claimed KeyArena could be rebuilt for $285 million, had its flaws. But it was cited by proponents as a reason why the area needed examination.
Hansen, perhaps mistakenly, told then-Seattle Mayor Ed Murray he could look at the Seattle Center site and see if he could find an investor.
There were many people at City Hall, who believed Murray already had AEG on Line 1. The arena conglomerate had its hands in the operations of KeyArena. It hired PR guru, and the mayor’s friend, Roger Nyhus to lead the communications effort.