Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan will not seek a second term
Durkan failed to deliver on her promises made to both the political left and right during her term.
After a tumultuous year, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has announced that she will not be seeking re-election. Amid multiple calls for her resignation, she has seen her support wane, both inside and out of city hall. While enjoying some early successes, such as negotiating to bring the NHL back to Seattle, the mayor also faced challenges that many felt she was not up to handling. By the end of 2019 her leadership was being questioned, and on October 22, The Seattle LGBTQ Commission called for her resignation.
An area where most feel she failed includes addressing the civil unrest in Seattle in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Seattle was catapulted into the international spotlight when the Capitol Hill Occupy Protest, or CHOP, was formed. What she suggested would be a “summer of love” devolved into mismanaged chaos. The Seattle Police spread misinformation and brutalized protesters with excessive force.
There were two murders on the edge of CHOP, street fights with Proud Boys and Three Percenters, and no less than five documented incidents of drivers assaulting protesters by the end of July, resulting in one fatality and one severely injured. There remains controversy over who called for the abandonment of the East Precinct on June 8, 2020. Both the Mayor and now retired police chief Carmen Best deny making the decision. Political watchers have wondered aloud if the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild made the decision, which would indicate a collapse of oversight by the mayor and police leadership.
Durkan, who ran on a homeless advocacy platform and a more moderate approach to area politics, failed to deliver on most of those promises, including thousands of beds through tiny home villages and transitional housing. Even before the COVID or George Floyd protests, homelessness and street violence was worsening. Seattle currently has the third-largest homeless population in America, and during her time as mayor, the homeless population grew. Durkan and City Hall pushed for tax increases, spending over $1 billion a year on area homelessness with no measurable impact. Accusations of corruption overshadowed projects like low barrier housing at Licton Springs. Only the larger cities of New York and Los Angeles have a large unhomed population.
Another failed promise, Durkan signed the Policing and Community Safety Executive Order (PCSEO) earlier this year. Its purpose was to identify SPD response areas that could be transitioned to a civilian and community-based response. The PCSEO did not achieve any of the meaningful policy goals outlined by the mayor. In sharp contrast, Seattle decided to increase the operating budget for the coming year, amid outcries from the public.
Seattle will vote for a new mayor on November 2, 2021.
Community Manager, Ty Steele, contributed to this story.