Whereas the Seattle Immigrant and Refugee Commission is authorized by Ordinance 122441 to organize, elect officers, and adopt such rules and administrative procedures consistent with the City Charter and said Ordinance as are necessary for the conduct of its affairs and performance of its functions and responsibilities prescribed in Section II of said Ordinance; Now, therefore, the organization and rules of procedures of the Seattle Immigrant and Refugee Commission shall be as follows:

Article I:  Commissioners

Commissioners are expected to, at minimum, participate in the following:

  • Attend monthly Commission meetings.
  • Attend and participate in community meetings, forums, and other events as a Commissioner;
  • Serve on at least standing committee;
  • Volunteer to serve on ad hoc committees as needed; and
  • Respond in a timely manner to communications that require a response.

Terms of Office
The expectation for the term of office is two years. Commissioners can serve no more than three terms (consecutive or non-consecutive).

A Commissioner who wishes to resign from the Commission shall notify the Co-Chairs and the Office for Immigrant and Refugee Affairs in writing prior to the Commissioner's resignation.

Article II:  Officers

Election of Officers
The Commission shall elect two Co-Chairs from the Commission membership, each of whom shall be elected annually.

The Co-Chairs shall preside at all meetings of the Commission, shall sign all official documents of the Commission, appoint all committees of the Commission based on the preferences of the Commissioners. In the event that both Co-Chairs are absent or unable to perform their duties, their duties will be assumed by their designee, or by a member approved by the majority of members present. The Co-Chairs shall act as the official spokespersons for the Commission to the media, Mayor, City Council, or other governmental entities unless another spokesperson is chosen by the Commission or the Co-Chairs. Commissioners may speak on behalf of the Commission in other circumstances, however, in all cases, Co-Chairs shall represent the majority position of the Commission.

The Co-Chairs shall be responsible for setting the meeting agendas, meeting dates, times, and locations, and ensuring, along with staff, minutes are recorded for each meeting and distributed well in advance of the following Commission meeting.

Removal of Co-Chairs  
Any Commission member may make a motion to consider the removal of either Co-Chair from office for due cause at a regular monthly meeting of the Commission, provided that at least seven (7) days written notice of such intent is given to all Commission members. The motion to consider removal shall be made at the first monthly meeting following the required notice. The motion to remove shall be voted on and requires a three-quarter (3/4) majority vote, by secret ballot, of all voting Commissioners (not 3/4 of Commissioner's present) to pass.

Article III:  Meetings

Time and Place
Regular meetings of the Commission shall be held at least once each month at such time and place as the Commission Co-Chairs shall designate. Commission meetings are open to the public and shall be advertised a minimum of two weeks prior to the meeting date. 
Special Meetings
Special meetings of the Commission shall be held upon the call of the Commission Co-Chairs or upon the request of five Commissioners. Said special meetings shall be called for a specific purpose or purposes and shall not take the place of a regular Commission meeting unless so determined at a prior regular meeting. 
A simple majority of existing Commissioners shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. 
Telephone Meeting
Any one or more Commissioners may participate in a meeting of the Commission by means of a conference telephone or similar telecommunications device, which allows all persons participating in the meeting to hear each other. Participation by telephone shall be equivalent to presence in person at the meeting for purposes of determining if a quorum is present.

Article IV:  Attendance

It is the responsibility of each Commissioner to attend all scheduled meetings of the Seattle Immigrant and Refugee Commission. In special circumstances, the Commission may grant a short leave of absence not to exceed three (3) months (see Extended Absence).

An excused absence shall be defined as an absence due to one or more of the following:

  • Illness
  • Family leave
  • Out of town trip
  • Emergency
  • Seattle Immigrant and Refugee Commission related business

To request an excused absence, Commissioners shall notify the Seattle Immigrant and Refugee Commission staff member and the Co-Chairs prior to the Commission meeting, stating the specific reason for the request. If the circumstances prevent a Commissioner from notifying staff or Co-Chairs prior to the meeting, the Commissioner will notify staff and the Co-Chairs as soon as possible.
When any Commissioner has two unexcused or three excused absences from regularly scheduled meetings within the calendar year, the Commissioner shall be notified in writing by the Commission Co-Chairs before the next meeting that he or she has been removed from the Commission.

Appeal Process
If the Commissioner desires to continue serving on the Commission, she or he must appeal in writing within three weeks of the date of notice by the Co-Chairs indicating an intention to continue serving on the Commission. If a Commissioner has appealed but misses another meeting, the Co-Chairs shall notify the member and the appointing authority requesting the member's resignation or removal.

Extended Absence
If a Commissioner anticipates an extended absence from their Commission activities, or at any time before a Commissioner accrues two unexcused or three excused absences within a calendar year, they shall immediately submit a written request for a leave of absence of not more than 3 months to the appropriate appointing authority with a copy sent to the Seattle Immigrant and Refugee Commission. The written request shall state the reasons for the request and the expected date of return to active participation on the Commission.

Article V:  Committees

Ad hoc committees may be formed by a majority of Commissioners to accomplish specific tasks or work outside of regularly scheduled meetings of the full Commission.  
Chairs of committees will be appointed by each committee. 
All committees will meet until their designated task has been accomplished. Committee Chairs will be responsible for submitting minutes of meetings and keeping attendance. Copies of the minutes and attendance will be sent to the designated support staff person. Committee Chairs will provide to the staff person a copy of the current membership of their committees. 
Committee members may not speak on behalf of the Seattle Immigrant and Refugee Commission without the express permission of the Seattle Immigrant and Refugee Commission.

Article VI:  Amendments

Amendment(s) to the rules of the Commission shall be made by written resolution adopted by a vote of not less than two-thirds of the membership of the Commission, which resolution shall be presented at the meeting prior to any vote taken thereon.

Article VII:  Decision Making

Decisions shall be made by group consensus whenever possible. In the event that consensus cannot be reached, a vote with a simple majority will prevail. Dissenting opinions will be entered as part of the minutes.

Members are not allowed to vote in advance or by proxy for issues raised at Commission meetings.

Electronic Voting
Between monthly Commission meetings, Commissioners are allowed to vote via email in a timely manner on the following items:

  • Commission endorsements for any group, cause or organization seeking non-monetary support from the Commission including using the Commission's name. Endorsement requests must be approved by majority vote.
  • Letter content of letters voted on at a previous Commission meeting. Prior to mailing a letter, the Co-Chairs will email the letter to Commissioners for feedback and final approval. Letter content must be approved by majority vote.

Article VIII:  Staff

As provided in the city budget, the Seattle Office for Immigrant and Refugee Affairs shall provide staff and meeting facilities for the Commission. While administratively responsible to the Office for Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, staff shall act in accordance with directions and positions of the Commission when staff is representing the positions or policies of the Commission.

The Immigrant and Refugee Commission was created as a result of Seattle's Immigrant and Refugee Report and Action Plan released in 2007. With the unprecedented growth in the foreign-born population since the 1980s, Seattle has become an increasingly multi-cultural city, rich with diversity.