New honorary council member takes seat

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Riverland Community College student Rain Suereh attended his first Austin City Council meeting on Monday as the new honorary council member.

The council approved Suereh’s appointment during its regular meeting on Jan. 22.

“This will give me the opportunity to see more of what the city is doing and how the city functions,” Suereh said.

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A native of Thailand, Suereh first came to the United States in 2009. His family lived in St. Paul before coming to Austin to work for Quality Pork Processor and Hormel Foods in 2016.

Suereh graduated from Austin High School in 2016 and currently studies computer technology at Riverland. He also works as a social assistant at the Welcome Center, where he interprets for the Karenni community.

Suereh is only the second person to hold the title of honorary council member, replacing former honorary member George Bass. He will hold the position until the end of April.

The honorary council member was created at the suggestion of the Austin Human Rights Commission in its 2017 Welcoming Report as a means to expose members of the immigrant community to city government and “empower multicultural leadership.” The council approved the position last year.

Suereh hopes to bring what he learns back to the Karenni community.

“In my community, there are not a lot of leaders,” he said. “This will give me the opportunity to see the bigger picture and hopefully help me be a leader for the community so they can know what is going on in the city.”