Mayor Jenny Durkan’s announcement that she has decided not to run for re-election next year should make Seattle’s citizens wonder if local politics has become too toxic and too driven by progressive dogma.

On the spectrum of American politics, Durkan decidedly lands solidly to the left, but, on Seattle’s seriously stunted spectrum, the mayor fails the purity tests set by activists and city council members who see her solid liberalism as just too compromised.

Durkan says the big issues facing the city – the COVID-19 crisis, chronic homelessness, police reform, restoration of downtown business activity, repair of the closed West Seattle Bridge – demand her attention, and a political campaign would be too great a distraction. Maybe so, but, in the past, the need to deal with big problems has usually been a key argument for staying in office, not an excuse to bow out.

Durkan will be the third mayor in a row to serve just one term, a circumstance that has undercut sustained efforts to cope with municipal maladies. She is also the third woman in a prominent position to leave her job after being targeted by agitated activists, the others being ex-Police Chief Carmen Best and Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau. When they started their jobs, each woman was perceived as a groundbreaker in the cause of greater diversity. Durkan was the first lesbian in her post, Best the first Black woman and Juneau the first Native American.

Those distinctions have not protected them from the wrath of Seattle’s enforcers of political purity.

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