In 2017, I announced my campaign for mayor at the PacMed building overlooking our beautiful city. For me, it symbolizes the grit and determination that define Seattle.
It was originally a naval hospital. There, my dad — almost broken by WWII — spent excruciating time recovering, unsure if he would walk again. The people of this city — his doctors and nurses — literally put him back together. Against all odds, he walked out of the hospital to a new life in the city where I was born.
I ran for mayor, in the midst of our city’s leadership crisis and growing economic disparity, because it was time for that same spirit of renewal and opportunity for all of Seattle.
As we approach the end of this difficult year, we are called again to renew and rebuild.
The global pandemic, with devastating health and economic consequences, has transformed all aspects of our lives. A national civil rights uprising pushed us to address the insidious reach of racism. Crises like homelessness and dangerous wildfire smoke have continued. Challenges like the West Seattle Bridge and a collapsing pier added to our brutal year.
We persevered and sacrificed so much.
Facing a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, Seattle acted boldly. We created citywide free testing and critical assistance like rent relief, an eviction moratorium, expanded shelter services, grocery vouchers, and direct cash assistance to small businesses, and immigrants. We stayed home, masked up, and bent the curve. Our collective actions led to the fewest cases and hospitalizations of any major American city.
New vaccines put hope on the horizon, but we are in for tough months ahead and an even tougher recovery.
As mayor approaching the last year of my term, that meant a choice. I can spend the next year campaigning to keep this job or I can focus all my energy on doing the job — a job that will face all the similar difficulties of 2020.
There was only one right choice for our city: doing the job. Next year will be consequential to our recovery and the trajectory of our city.
For the last three years, we have laid the foundation for our most urgent and pressing task: building a broad, just and equitable recovery that advances our fight for the climate.
Before COVID-19 hit, we made historic investments to build more than $1.7 billion in affordable homes. We created Seattle Promise to provide free college to thousands of Seattle Public School graduates. We nearly doubled the Seattle Preschool Program, implemented free transit for students, and crafted new protections for our rideshare drivers and domestic workers. We taxed ourselves to invest in transit, education and libraries.
And we did not flinch from our values in this tough year. We are investing $100 million to address disparities in communities of color, on a path to reimagine policing and community safety, transferring historic properties to the Black community, and continuing our investments for the fight against COVID-19. We advanced a new “Waterfront for All” and a new sports arena, home to the Kraken and Storm.
Seattle has always been the city that invents the future. Coming out of COVID-19, we will be that city again. In the next year, we will reopen and distribute a vaccine, continue our work to build alternatives to policing, and address challenges like the West Seattle Bridge and homelessness. We will rebuild a strong downtown with vibrant small businesses, protect maritime and industrial jobs, and draw millions of visitors from around the world. Our new buildings will shed dependency on fossil fuels.
It will take all of us focusing on the well-being of the people of Seattle instead of divisive politics. We cannot prosper without also rebuilding our grace and good faith, seeing each other’s humanity and sharing a common commitment to the promise of our community.
The coming year, after a year unlike any other, will take everything we’ve all got to renew and rebuild. As your mayor, I know one thing for sure: Never bet against Seattle.