Durkan signs 2022 budget, calls for future of compromise in final days in office

SEATTLE — On Thursday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed the 2022 budget into law, her final major action as Seattle’s mayor.

The $7.1 billion budget allocates millions of dollars to addressing homelessness, more affordable housing options, and improving public safety.

The budget also funds expansive COVID-19 relief, shoring up the West Seattle bridge, building out a waterfront park, and extending the light rail across Puget Sound.

The primary sticking point, like in recent years, remains the police budget.

Durkan signed the budget despite the Council rejecting her earlier proposal of roughly $9.5 million going to more community service officers and hiring and retention bonuses for officers.

“While I disagree strongly with some of the things in it, I disagree even more strongly with the emerging political dynamic that we have to be in a take-all-or-nothing world,” Durkan said on Thursday.

She urged the Council and Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell to search for compromises when it comes to the police budget moving forward.

The 2022 budget funds 125 new police officers requested by SPD.

On Thursday, Adrian Z. Diaz, interim chief of the Seattle Police Department, said SPD has roughly 1,200 officers, with 1,000 officers deployable.

Diaz said he needs 1,400 officers to be able to respond to 911 calls and efficiently protect the City.

“I think it would be a stretch to get to 1,400 this year along in 2022, but I am committed to trying to do everything we can to do that,” said Diaz, when asked if this budget will get him to the goal size.

Diaz said recent staffing studies have suggested for a city the size of Seattle, 1,600 or 1,700 officers would be appropriate.

Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, said Seattle should staff more than 2,000 officers, similar to the size of the Boston Police force.

Solan celebrated the passing of the budget on Thursday.

“This is a drastic pivot. I call it the great political pivot from where the Council was last year when they were promising to defund us by 50%,” said Solan in an interview with KIRO7.

Solan believes this budget echoes a move to the middle highlighted in the November election.

Bruce Harrell in the mayoral race, Ann Davison for city attorney, and Sara Nelson for a City Council seat, all beat out more progressive candidates.

“Here we are, we’re moving forward with more of a moderate approach that the City is in desperate need of,” said Solan.

Harrell will officially take over as mayor of Seattle in January. An inauguration ceremony is scheduled for Jan. 4 at City Hall.