Improving Seattle’s business climate will be a priority for Seattle’s next mayor, and Jenny Durkan is well suited for this job. She must find ways to address the concerns of both the business community and neighborhoods over the next four years.
The election of Jenny Durkan as Seattle mayor offers the best hope in years of improving the city’s business climate, which cannot be taken for granted and needs tending.
This is not just about making money. Seattle’s business climate must be strong to create opportunity and maintain the vibrancy of the city and region.
Yet entrepreneurs — from Jeff Bezos to immigrants running storefronts in the Rainier Valley — are under duress in Seattle. They are experiencing a combination of City Hall’s administrative neglect, legislative assault and willingness to be used as a policy sandbox by special interests.
This creates uncertainty and jeopardizes Seattle’s century-old reputation as a great place to build a business.
Realization of the problem spread when Amazon decided in September to look elsewhere for a second headquarters location to further its growth.
Even so, Amazon isn’t abandoning Seattle. It was heavily involved in the election, donating $350,000, the most by far, to a pro-Durkan political committee run by the Metropolitan Seattle Chamber of Commerce.
The committee’s goals include reforming the response to homelessness, reducing traffic congestion, addressing disparities in economic opportunity, and sustaining Seattle’s livability and values.
Nearly $1 million was donated to get Durkan elected, breaking Seattle mayoral records, because her pragmatism and leadership offer the best hope for a course correction.
At the same time, Durkan cannot be overly influenced by prosperous donors. Their business-climate concerns can be addressed in ways that respect concerns of residents outside downtown and across the city.
The mayor serves all 700,000 residents. Most live in neighborhoods that, like the business community, are pillars of Seattle’s success. They, too, are suffering from City Hall disdain and policies skewed by special interests and ideology.
All are clients equally deserving of Durkan’s service over the next four years.