By Meghan McLaughlin
What makes Bothell special, to Beca Nistrian, is that Bothell cares. In turn, Nistrian cares for Bothell. So much so, that she is running for Bothell Council Position 7. Nistrian is a local small-business owner. She’s owned Beca’s Brew, an espresso stand, for nearly five years now. In addition to brewing coffee, Nistrian writes children’s books.
“Bothell cares about community,” Nistrian said. “People who are strangers to each other come together to help people, and it’s so beautiful to see it.”
Nistrian comes to her candidacy for Bothell City Council with some experience under her belt. She’s the Civil Service Commissioner for the city of Bothell, working closely with the police and the fire department. Nistrian believes her experience with that has ensured that she’s had experience making decisions about public safety, a component of being a city council member.
Public safety is the top focus of Nistrian’s campaign.
“If you don’t feel safe where you live,” Nistrian said, “you don’t really have that sense of community.”
Nistrian wants to get all Bothell police officers’ body and dash cameras; the first step in accountability, according to Nistrian.
Another focus of Nistrian’s campaign is public spaces, like Bothell Landing Park. She said that since it’s often the first thing residents and visitors see when they enter Bothell, she would like it to look beautiful to reflect the community it’s placed in.
Nistrian wants to see downtown become more of a community space for farmers’ markets and festivals that bring people together. She hopes to see improvements on the roads and sidewalks in Bothell too. While almost everyone feels safe accessing the outdoors during the pandemic, Nistrian wants to ensure that places people are spending time on and in, whether they be roads, sidewalks, trails or parks, are quality spaces.
“I just want people to know how much I love Bothell,” Nistrian said. “I care. I raised my daughter here. I’m a single mom. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else, and I think when you’re a tight-knit community, in so many different ways, those are the people that you do want serving on the city council. You want somebody that’s invested, and I’m not going anywhere.”
In terms of involvement with the community outside of that role, Nistrian lends her time to “Night to Shine” on the Eastside, partnering with the Tim Tebow Foundation for the past six years. The event provides a traditional prom night for individuals with special needs.
Nistrian also partners with Shower to the People, providing showers, clothes and warm meals twice a week for people who are homeless. When the pandemic closed down in-person instruction in the Northshore School District, Nistrian partnered with her publisher to get Mascot Books, a major publishing company, to donate over 16,000 books to the Northshore region schools to ensure that all students had access to books while the libraries were closed.
When Rami Al-Kabra and his wife chose Bothell as their home 12 years ago, it was because of the city’s affordability. According to Al-Kabra, their reasoning does not ring true anymore. They also moved to Bothell for its high-quality schools and central location.
“I’ve been a community advocate and bridge builder for 20 years,” Al-Kabra said. “I continued to work from the day I moved to Bothell, working very closely with the immigrant-Muslim community to establish our place of worship and to advocate on our behalf to government.”
Al-Kabra co-organized the first-ever March for Black Lives in Bothell following the murder of George Floyd. He also co-founded the Black Lives Matter Bothell Run Club, a running and walking community to help ensure that Black community members can enjoy Bothell’s trails. Al-Kabra was a part of establishing Anti-Racist Communities of Bothell and lobbied the Bothell City Council to establish a diversity and equity program.
He’s also recently been appointed to the city’s Landmark and Preservation board.
“I believe that we, as a city, need to bring to light and celebrate the contributions of the Indigenous and Black people who live in the area,” Al-Kabra said.
Al-Kabra immigrated to the United States at 18 years old. His parents believed in the power of education, and Al-Kabra earned an electrical engineering degree as well as a Masters in Business Administration. He and his wife have three children together who have attended various Bothell schools.
People have been priced out of neighboring cities, and Bothell is growing because of that. Bothell has since become more diverse than it once was, according to Al-Kabra, and he is representative of foreign-born Bothell residents.
“One of my tenets is to have a government that is more transparent and be intentional in my outreach to the communities who do not usually interact with government,” Al-Kabra said, “because of whatever their backgrounds are.”
Al-Kabra has many topics he would like to focus on if elected to Bothell City Council. He wants to see a more green city with tree-lined sidewalks and affordable housing. He wants a more inclusive community for not just people with similar backgrounds to his, but people of all backgrounds. Al-Kabra wants to see money put into the parks department and an increase in mental health programming. He supports small businesses starting up and wants to make it easier for them to become a part of the Bothell community.
“We really need to look deep into what are the values of the city,” Al-Kabra said.
Al-Kabra wants to make Bothell a one-stop-shop for everyone. He wants a more walkable city for visitors and residents alike. Most of all, he wants to make it a destination for people to live, work and play in, and he sees the current state of the city as an opportunity to make that vision a reality.
“Uniting efforts is actually better,” Al-Kabra said. “Especially after last year, I felt the need to be on your city council so my voice will be heard firsthand at the decision-making table.”