• Jenny Durkan sworn into office as new Seattle mayor

    By: KIRO 7 News Staff

    Updated:

    Seattle got its fourth mayor this year on Tuesday when former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan was sworn into office.

    After former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray resigned amid sexual abuse allegations earlier this year, the city has had two mayors serve in the interim until the election results were confirmed. City Council President Bruce Harrell served for a few days and then returned to his council position. Councilman Tim Burgess, who is retiring, currently holds the office of the mayor.

    Durkan won the November election with nearly 60 percent of the votes, and her opponent Cary Moon conceded.

    Now that election results are confirmed, Durkan is taking office this month, rather than traditionally taking office in January.

    Durkan is now the first female mayor in Seattle in nearly 90 years. She earned her law degree from the University of Washington School of Law and served as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington under President Barack Obama from Oct. 2009 through Sept. 2014.

    "It's been a great journey," Durkan said after first-round results dropped. "I trust the people of Seattle ... I trust us to show the other Washington how we can put progressive values to work, [and] to show we are a better place than [President] Donald Trump says we are."

    The city council voted to slash her office budget by nearly a million dollars a couple of weeks ago.
    Mayor-elect Durkan’s staff wouldn’t say whether she is surprised or dismayed, only that she’ll deal with it when she takes office on Nov. 28.

    Scroll down to read views from Durkan on six key issues in Seattle.


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    Seattle homeless sweeps and services

    “We have to be compassionate, but we have to be smart,” Durkan told KIRO 7 earlier this year.

    Durkan promises to make these three things happen if elected:

    •  To build 1,000 tiny homes
    •  To get every part of the city to participate in solutions
    •  Get more revenue for mental health treatment and services

    Watch video to hear Durkan talk about this issue; scroll down to keep reading. 

    New taxes in Seattle

    Durkan supports the recently passed Seattle high earners income tax -- if it’s upheld -- but said the money should be used to give a tax cut to lower-income residents so the tax is revenue neutral.

    Jenny Durkan

    Asked if Seattle is overtaxed, Durkan said, “I don't hear anyone regretting that they voted for the things they care about -- transit, schools and parks. But what they do want to know is those tax dollars are being used wisely. And that's the job of the mayor to make sure that happens.”

    Durkan claims that she does not want new taxes, but she’s considering making an exception for mental health treatment and addiction services. Here’s what she said about exploring additional revenue services, including property taxes.

    What about the head tax?

    Councilmember Mike O’Brien and Councilmember Kirsten Harris-Talley proposed a $100-per-employee tax for big businesses like Amazon. The first proposal of this tax was rejected in mid-November.

    Durkan said as she agrees with O’Brien’s policies, but how the city should pay for those policies is another question. She said the city needs be careful for small businesses, because many taxes they pay are considered regressive.

    “I think we have to look more deeply at it and look at whether you can do an approach that gets at what you want,” Durkan said.

    Watch video to hear from Durkan on this issue; scroll down to keep reading. 

    Transportation and traffic

    Durkan:

    Asked about traffic problems, Durkan said, “It's not just traffic, it's everything from the potholes, which have gone too long and not tended, to making sure the lights are timed so people can get through.”

    On her campaign website, Durkan lists the following:

    • Accelerate light rail expansion by working with Sound Transit to expedite the planning, design
    • Improve bus service by working with Metro to explore options for making bus fare free for all young people under 18 years old
    • Effectively implement and improve the Bicycle Master Plan and the Center City Bicycle Network
    • Ensure adequate resources are dedicated to needed upgrades to sidewalks in underserved communities

    Free college for residents

    Durkan believes the city should pay for two years of community college tuition for any graduate of a Seattle public high school.

    "Almost one of three kids of color don't go to college at all and we want to really change that dynamic," Durkan told KIRO 7.

    Durkan's proposal would build on a smaller program already providing scholarships. She estimates it would cost less than $5 million the first year, and $7 million the second -- with no new taxes needed.

    Policing accountability

    Durkan promises to increase police accountability. She supports Initiative 940 requiring de-escalation training and making it easier to prosecute police who misuse deadly force.

    Durkan wants alternatives to jailing young people, but also supports rebuilding the aging youth detention center.

    Durkan said she would keep police chief Kathleen O’Toole, as long as the chief stays accountable.

    Watch video about Durkan talking about this issue.


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