Jessyn Farrell, a public transit advocate and former state legislator, is running for Seattle mayor, she announced Thursday.
Farrell, 47, previously ran for mayor in 2017 — she stepped down as a state representative to campaign — coming in fourth in a crowded primary.
In announcing her campaign, Farrell said she would seek to make “a Seattle of justice and shared prosperity a reality, with detailed plans and a blueprint for a fresh start.”
She proposed establishing universal child care from birth to age 5.
“People are really suffering, whether it’s economic hardship, racial injustice, isolation, remote schooling, these are things that are made all the harder by a lack of city leadership,” Farrell said in an interview Thursday.
The most important issues of her campaign, she said, could be boiled down to two core questions: “Are we going to be a city people want to live in and can afford to live in?”
She said she wanted to hearken back to when government “played a really large role in housing” and would seek to build a more diverse array of housing — more senior housing in neighborhoods, more family housing downtown.
That, she said, should not preclude imperfect but necessary interim solutions to the city’s homelessness crisis, including more tiny house villages and using hotels for shelter. Adding more permanent supportive housing will require new “resources,” she said, but “you don’t do taxes just for the sake of doing taxes.”
“You have to drive the conversation about revenue based on what it is that you’re trying to do,” Farrell said.
On the clearing of homeless camps, Farrell said we need to be able to reconcile “multiple truths.”
“Parks are not safe places for people to sleep outside and the purpose of city parks is not for people to sleep outside,” Farrell said. “At the same time the solution set that we’ve been using does not work, sweeps don’t work.”
Farrell declined to take a firm stand on the City Council’s push to cut the Seattle Police Department’s budget by 50%. Parts of the Police Department are working well, she said, but we also need to transform what we think of as public safety. That means scaling up things like community-based crisis responses and the Seattle Fire Department’s Health One program for people experiencing a behavioral health crisis or with social services needs.
“The council and mayor have been very reactive over the last several months,” Farrell said. “I’m going to be very deliberate in not governing by a percentage but governing by values.”
Farrell was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2012, handily winning a six-person primary for an open seat. She was reelected by a huge margin in 2014 and ran unopposed in 2016.
In the Legislature, Farrell was the prime sponsor of a bill passed in 2017 that cracks down on distracted driving. In 2015, she was the prime sponsor of a bill requiring employers to offer paid sick leave. It became law the next year.
Before serving in the Legislature, Farrell was the executive director of the Transportation Choices Coalition, a public transit advocacy group that’s played a role in building support for Sound Transit’s light-rail expansions.
Since her previous mayoral run, Farrell has worked at Civic Ventures, a progressive think tank and public policy organization run by venture capitalist Nick Hanauer.
She graduated from the University of Washington, where she played saxophone in the marching band, and has a law degree from Boston College Law School.
Mayor Jenny Durkan is not seeking reelection.
Other mayoral candidates include City Council President M. Lorena González, Chief Seattle Club Director Colleen Echohawk, former City Council President Bruce Harrell, architect and urban designer Andrew Grant Houston, and Lance Randall, the leader of a South Seattle economic-development nonprofit.