Jenny Durkan is clearly the best choice to be Seattle’s next mayor. She is an experienced attorney and former federal prosecutor who played a key role in reforming the Seattle Police Department.
In an election with big consequences for the Puget Sound region, Seattle voters have a clear choice for mayor.
The Times recommends:
Strengths: Steady leadership, a decades-long resume of civic engagement, pragmatic solutions for big Seattle problems.
Durkan has management chops forged from experience, a broad view of Seattle’s role in the region and state, and a focus on affordability that works for both old and new Seattle."
They should elect Jenny Durkan, an accomplished attorney with state and federal experience who successfully led the fight for Seattle police reforms as U.S. attorney.
Durkan’s progressive credentials are more than talk. Her work on police reform is making Seattle a safer and more just place for people of all races.
There may be no one more qualified to oversee the police department as it emerges from federal oversight and potentially hires the next police chief to continue its evolution into a model of enlightened policing.
The former federal prosecutor is also well-suited to lead a city that will push back on locally harmful policies of President Donald Trump.
Challenger Cary Moon, though articulate and smart, is a neophyte with modest professional or public-service experience. She is unprepared to manage 10,000 employees or advocate for the Northwest’s largest city in regional and federal affairs.
This is no time for Seattle to be led by an untested novice.
Seattle’s homeless crisis requires hard negotiations with nonprofits and other governments. Its growth-management planning is long on platitudes and short on success and accountability. The city is choking on congestion, divided over housing policies and reeling from former Mayor Ed Murray’s scandal and Amazon’s pronouncement that it must look elsewhere to sustain its growth.
A strong, pragmatic mayor is needed to help Seattle regain its footing and provide a counterbalance to an increasingly left-lurching City Council.
Moon worked for her family’s respirator-manufacturing business in Michigan in the 1990s, before it sold. After moving to Seattle, she won a short-term contract to do design work for the city. She served on the design commission and became an activist. She made a name for herself a decade ago as a transit advocate leading a failed campaign to block the Alaskan Way tunnel.
As mayor, Moon would accelerate the city’s transit planning. She says Seattle’s streets are too “convenient” for drivers and more must be done to persuade people to ride buses or bicycles. This view too callously glosses over the reality of life for some residents and Seattle’s role as a regional hub of commerce and entertainment.
Durkan would be considered solidly on the left in some cities. She’s a lesbian who worked on LGBTQ issues and, as a prosecutor, increased prosecution of gun crimes. Earlier in her career she was counsel to liberal Gov. Mike Lowry.
Recently Durkan built a cyberlaw practice, drawing on federal experience with cybercrime and intellectual property. This knowledge would be an asset for mayor of a city nurturing software startups small and large.
Like Moon, Durkan is a downtown dweller. She’s renting while she and her partner, a former wireless entrepreneur, build a house.
It’s unclear how much Durkan would disrupt the status quo on housing and traffic.
On traffic, Durkan is also bullish on building out the region’s transit system but brings a more open mind than Moon. While changes are needed, she said she wants to hear from engineers how to best improve mobility.
On housing, both candidates should be more cautious about upzoning single-family neighborhoods. That can decrease affordability by making houses and older buildings more valuable to speculators. Housing policy should be guided by data and collaboration with residents, not special interests, backroom deals and divisive rhetoric.
Rental supply is rapidly increasing in Seattle with nearly 37,000 apartments being built now or in the pipeline. But the supply of houses to own is at risk. City plans say there is enough capacity for projected growth without rezoning.
Single-family neighborhoods are essential to Seattle’s livability and appeal as a place to start careers, companies and families.
Buying homes is hard in today’s market but remains an important path to the middle class for immigrants, millennials and others. This opportunity shouldn’t be further diminished.
Durkan brings deep experience, proven advocacy for all the city’s residents, and an appreciation of Seattle’s role in the region and state.
The choice is obvious for Seattle’s next mayor: Durkan.