Seattle Municipal Archives Guide

View all record series in 4674-00 Norm Rice
ID: 4674-00
Record Group: Norm Rice

Norman B. Rice was born in Denver on May 4, 1943. He received his college education at the University of Washington, earning a bachelor’s degree in communications and a Masters of Public Administration. Rice holds honorary degrees from Seattle University, the University of Puget Sound, and Whitman College. Before entering City government, he worked as a reporter at KOMO-TV News and KIXI radio, served as Assistant Director of the Seattle Urban League, was Executive Assistant and Director of Government Services for the Puget Sound Council of Governments, and was employed as the Manager of Corporate Contributions and Social Policy at Rainier National Bank.

Beginning in 1978, Rice served eleven years on City Council, including a term as Council President; he also served as chair of the Energy and Finance and Budget Committees. Rice facilitated the development of more equitable cost allocation and rate design procedures for Seattle City Light as part of his work on the Energy Committee; his accomplishments on the Finance and Budget Committee included the passage of the Women and Minority Business Enterprise Ordinance and the elimination of City investments in firms doing business in South Africa. Norm Rice also worked to improve public safety in Seattle and advocated for the use of local funds to improve conditions for disadvantaged Seattle citizens.

Rice was elected mayor of Seattle for the term beginning January 1, 1990, and served two full terms. He was the first African-American mayor in Seattle’s history. An important issue in his first mayoral race was mandatory busing of schoolchildren to improve integration in schools; schools and education continued to be an important issue throughout his tenure as mayor, including support for the Families and Education Levy. Downtown revitalization was also a top priority during his tenure as mayor.

Rice ran for mayor a second time in 1993 and was re-elected. He also served as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. After leaving office, Rice served as President and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle from 1998 to 2004; he then became vice-chair of Capital Access, LLC, and a visiting professor at the University of Washington.