The former U.S. attorney talked of Seattle’s economic boom leaving too many people behind, as she kicked off her campaign for mayor surrounded by top-tier politicians.
Seattle has led on LGBTQ civil rights and has spawned an “innovation economy” but is increasingly becoming a city divided between haves and have-nots, former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said Friday, kicking off her campaign for mayor.
“We are the city that gave you coffee on every street corner, the everything store on your phone, bone-marrow transplants that cure cancer, computers and airplanes that unlock the world, and the ability to buy four gallons of mayonnaise in one tub,” Durkan said, each phrase a nod to Seattle-based giants such as Starbucks, Amazon and Costco.
“Today, Seattle has shining new towers and is an engine of the innovation economy. But we are also a city caught in shifting times. In too many ways, for too many people, our incredible success is creating two Seattles,” she added, echoing the “tale of two cities” narrative that helped Bill de Blasio win the 2013 race for New York City mayor.
“Too many people are being locked out, and too many cannot keep up with rising costs. The price of that first home, that first toehold in this great city, keeps climbing, beyond the reach of so many. And rents aren’t any better. The costs of living and raising a family here dwarf the rise in most wages. And, in the shadows of those shining new towers, too many people are living in tents, doorways and cars.”
Durkan spoke inside a Pacific Tower conference room, flanked by members of her family and a number of past and present politicians, including former Gov. Chris Gregoire, former King County Executive Ron Sims, former City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen and City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. She said she picked the landmark former military hospital for the event because her father recovered from World War II injuries there.
The 58-year-old is one of the latest candidates to join a crowded and growing field in a race for mayor that turned upside down this week when Mayor Ed Murray announced he was ending his campaign for re-election. Murray said allegations that he sexually abused teenagers in the 1980s had become too much of a distraction.
Durkan, a former criminal-defense and civil lawyer and adviser to Gregoire, became the first openly gay U.S. attorney when she was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009.
Responding to questions from reporters Friday, Durkan said she believes the state’s tax system is too regressive but doubts that a city income tax is the right solution.
She said she supports more density on Seattle blocks now zoned for single-family houses — as part of an overall growth strategy — and slammed President Donald Trump.