Norm Rice

Norm Rice bigraphy, stories - American mayor

Norm Rice : biography

May 4, 1943 –

Norman Blann Rice (born May 4, 1943 in Denver, Colorado) was the 49th mayor of Seattle, Washington, serving two terms from 1989-1997. Rice was Seattle’s first and, as of 2013, only African-American mayor.

Honors and legacy

Rice has been awarded honorary degrees by Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle University, the University of Puget Sound, and Whitman College.

  • Municipal League of King County’s James. R. Ellis Regional Leadership Award (with John Stanton)
  • The American Jewish Federation’s Human Relations Award (with wife Constance Rice)
  • National Neighborhood Coalition’s National Award for Leadership on Behalf of Neighborhoods
  • King County Chapter of the YWCA’s Isabel Coleman Pierce Award
  • Washington Council on Crime and Delinquency’s Mark F. Cooper Leadership Award
  • American Association of Community College Students’ Outstanding Alumni Award

Early life

Rice graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle, earning a bachelor’s degree in communications and a Masters of Public Administration from the university’s Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs. He became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. In 1975, he married Dr. Constance Williams.

Before entering City government, Rice worked as a reporter at KOMO-TV News and KIXI radio. He served as Assistant Director of the Seattle Urban League. He next worked as Executive Assistant and Director of Government Services for the Puget Sound Council of Governments.

Civic life

Rice was CEO and then president of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle from 1998 to 2004.

Rice is serving a three-year term as a Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs and leads the project Civic Engagement in the 21st Century.

In June 2009, Rice was named CEO of the non-profit Seattle Foundation. In December 2010, he was nominated as one of 30 members for a two-year appointment in the White House Council for Community Solutions, created by Executive Order of President Barack Obama.


Political life

Rice was first elected to the Seattle City Council in 1978 to fill a vacancy. He was reelected in 1979, 1983 and 1987, serving eleven years in all. He served as chairs of the Energy, Finance, and Budget committees, and was Council President for one term. 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.

He ran for mayor in 1985, but lost to Charles Royer. Rice ran again in 1989 in a crowded field and won 99,699 to 75,446. He was re-elected in 1993.

During the technology boom of the 1990s, Rice led the rejuvenation of Seattle’s downtown. He also served as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

In 1996, Rice ran in the Democratic primary for Governor, but he was defeated by then-King County Executive Gary Locke.

In 1997, Rice made a guest appearance as himself on an episode of Frasier, entitled "The 1000th Show."