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University Place elects new leadership for 2016 and 2017

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The University Place City Council has unanimously elected Javier Figueroa to serve as mayor and Kent Keel as mayor pro tem of the City in 2016 and 2017.

Figueroa was first elected to the University Place City Council in 2010 and has served as mayor pro tem, as chair of the City’s Finance Committee and as a member of the 2015 U.S. Open Task Force. He currently represents U.P. as president of the Rainier Communications Commission. A native of Monterrey, Mexico, he was the first naturalized citizen from Mexico to be elected to a city council in the State of Washington, and now to also be elected as a mayor. Figueroa is a decorated veteran of the U.S. Army and has lived in Pierce County for 37 years, having moved to University Place in 1991.

In addition to his various public service assignments, Figueroa brings to his role as mayor more than 30 years of experience in real estate asset management, experience that is sure to be an asset to University Place as it continues its efforts to forge ahead with economic development in the city. "I’m honored to be elected as the new mayor of University Place by my peers and look forward to serving our community as mayor,” Figueroa said. “The council members and I are the team chosen by the community to govern our city and I truly believe we have an “A” team that will accomplish great work for the citizens of U.P.”

Keel is a native of Fort Worth, Texas and moved to University Place in 1987. He serves as an Association of Washington Cities (AWC) board member and has been the chair of the University Place Finance Committee. He is an active participant in various community organizations, including 10 years as a member of the University Place School District Board. Keel has also served on the Curtis Viking Scholarship Committee and as president and executive director of a low-income housing non-profit. He currently works as a technology project manager for the Veterans Administration Puget Sound Health Care System.

Every two years, the U.P. City Council elects council members to serve as mayor and mayor pro tem. Under its council-manager form of government, University Place’s City Council is like the board of directors of a corporation and the mayor is its chair. The mayor pro tem serves as the mayor in the mayor’s absence. Within this “business-like” form of government, the Council sets the City’s goals and directs the professional city manager, who acts as the chief operating officer, in implementing the Council’s decisions.

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