Mayor Lynne Robinson has more than two decades of civic involvement and leadership in the Bellevue community. Robinson chaired and served on the Bellevue Network on Aging and the Parks & Community Services Board which pushed her into the public service realm. In 2014, she joined the Bellevue City Council and was elected by her council colleagues to be deputy mayor in 2018, mayor in 2020, and again this year.
Before she went into civic work, Robinson earned a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in physical therapy, then went on to start her own business. Passionate about her work as an entrepreneur, Governor Jay Inslee appointed her to a three-year term on the state Board of Physical Therapy in 2015.
Robinson’s job may have changed, but her passion for her work still burns hot to this day. Working for the City of Bellevue, she is a champion for small businesses and has encouraged startup and equity crowdfunding workshops at City Hall. Robinson also advocates for the environment, parks and open spaces, human services and affordable housing in Bellevue.
As we look forward to the event, read on to learn why Mayor Robinson is a strong advocate for public open spaces, what she thinks are Bellevue's biggest opportunities and her favorite businesses around town.
Why are parks and open spaces so important for a vibrant downtown?
I believe nature grounds you. Getting out of the office and enjoying the green grass, plants, and unstructured activities you find in parks is excellent for your wellbeing.
My emphasis is to make parks more accessible for people. Back in the day, there were separate entrances for people in wheelchairs, but now we’ve ensured everyone has equal access to all entry points, which is really important to me.
What are some of the latest passion projects you’re working on?
I currently represent the council on the King County Affordable Housing Committee, where we advocate for affordable housing for all cities in King County. Bellevue has been blessed with excellent staff, funding, and partnerships to create necessary affordable housing but not every city has those opportunities. It’s really beneficial when King County can step in to provide guidance and funding.
You’ll be speaking at State of the City alongside Deputy Mayor Jared Nieuwenhuis this month. Can you give us a sneak peek into what you’ll discuss during the event?
While the pandemic was a challenging time for all of us, we saw how the community came out stronger than before. We’ll be discussing the resilience and successes, including how we permitted more during 2020 and 2021 than ever before in Bellevue history. addressing the challenges and opportunities ahead for our evolving city.
What's your favorite part about working in the public service realm?
I love my job because it’s a great opportunity to help people and make positive changes. My purpose as mayor is to collaborate with other elected leaders around the region to advocate for Bellevue and address the challenges facing the Eastside and throughout King County.
What makes Bellevue stand out from other city centers?
Our downtown stands out because we have focused on keeping the city clean and safe. I also believe the small businesses here bring a particular type of vibrancy that makes us unique. Kemper Development Company has also done a remarkable job creating a retail hub for our city.
What are the biggest opportunities for Downtown Bellevue in the next 3-5 years?
We want to focus on making the city more walkable and generally accessible to many ways of getting around. Intentionally designed connections and corridors are excellent opportunities for more people living and working downtown to easily explore and get from one place to another.
I also see a variety of after-work activities happening in the future. Whether it’s dining, arts, or shopping services, all those things will be available to people at the end of the workday. My goal is to continue drawing people back into the office and creating equitable opportunities in Bellevue so everyone can have a high-quality life.
As we slowly start coming out of this pandemic, what are you looking forward to?
I’m mostly looking forward to in-person events and being able to feel the energy in a room. I’m also excited to network with dozens of people at these events.
Where are your favorite businesses in Downtown Bellevue?
I love every business and restaurant in Old Bellevue. This city is attracting great chefs, and it has been a fun job trying to eat at every new restaurant in town.
My favorite spot at the moment is B-Bar, their vegetarian menu is delicious. I also love Peony Kitchen, they have a new chef who is very good at what they do. The whole duck is my favorite meal to order there.
Do you have any favorite hidden gems in Bellevue?
People usually don’t realize this, but there are many beautiful walkways open to the public, starting with the one across the street from City Hall. There's a staircase up to a rock garden that takes you all the way from 110th to 108th.
If you cross the street over to Amazon, there are some beautiful walkway areas there as well. My goal is for every property to have these walkways so that an individual can get from one end of town to another without being next to traffic.
Follow the City of Bellevue for the latest information on city events, happenings and updates:
Join us for this month's State of the City on June 28! Mayor Lynne Robinson and Deputy Mayor Jared Nieuwenhuis will share updates on the local economy, mobility projects, equity and inclusion work, community safety and more. Breakfast is included with registration.
Person Behind The Place is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.