Margaret Fimia (BA, 1989): Fighter and Nurturer
Although Margaret Fimia’s (BA, 1989) success in her career of public service may not have played out in the way she had always intended, there’s no question that her contributions have resulted in significant positive change for the people who she has served.
Fimia received an associate degree in nursing from Nassau Community College (1970), her bachelor’s degree in speech communication from UW in 1989, and a master’s degree in public affairs in 1992. Soon after, she joined the King County Council where she served on several committees for seven years and was a powerful advocate for public transportation. From 2003-06, Fimia served on the Shoreline City Council where she united historically opposing groups for the public good.
Fimia looks back on her work in public transportation as a highlight of her career. “One of the things I’m really proud of is getting about 400,000 more hours of transit service in the region because of the work I did on clean diesel versus natural gas, and the savings we recognized by doing clean diesel,” she said. “We were able to put 16 to 20 percent more service out there. That was a huge benefit to the region.”
While she accomplished a lot and brought many groups together, she also experienced setbacks, like in every political realm, but she continued lobbying for what was best for the people she worked for. “The problems are enormous and the conflicts are never-ending so you’re always trying to resolve issues. That’s the nature of the work,” said Fimia. “We have a term in medicine: ‘Too numerous to count.’ The difficulty is when you’re working with people who don’t want to collaborate — who don’t fight fair. You’re at a real disadvantage when you’re trying to play by the rules.”
From reducing overhead, to funding basic infrastructure, to increasing environmental protection, Fimia worked long hours and against all odds, but still came out as a winner and clearly as someone who is willing to put in a good fight for the people. “People who are willing to devote themselves to public service, particularly in politics, it’s a thankless position,” said Department Chair David Domke. “We’re thrilled to be able to honor Maggie for all the work she’s done.”
Aside from her tireless work for the public, Fimia is also a loving wife and mother of two girls, now grown. After her last term in King County Council, Fimia decided that she would not go up for re-election. It was time to devote more of herself to her family, and that proved to be her best decision. “It’s very hard to be in the front lines for very long,” said Fimia. “My goal had been to serve two terms, and then write and teach. I had done that and it was a good decision. I had two daughters who were 7 and 9 when I started. I didn’t want to spend any more time away from them because they weren’t going to be home much longer.”
Today, Fimia enjoys her family time, and has found a hobby in learning about her family genealogy. She collects old family pictures and information, and recently brought everyone together for a family reunion. Although she has more free time now than ever, Fimia still has a strong grasp in public policy education as she’s writing a book on public policy, which she hopes to use as a text book for a future course. “We’ve made it confusing and difficult,” said Fimia. “I would teach people how to access their local government. The only way you get real change is through coalitions and reaching across people you don’t normally associate with. Let’s figure out what we have in common because it’s a lot more than what’s different.”