Ken's View: Being Mayor in Seattle is no easy task
By Ken Robinson
When Jenny Durkan announced she would not seek re-election, I was not surprised but was a little dismayed.
I think she has done a remarkable job leading the city during a time of high turmoil. The civil disobedience that took place at Cal Anderson park was fomented by forces way outside of the control of the mayor. Her response, which led to the departure of the the police chief and some days of violent actions and property damage, could not have been predicted.
From the 10,000 foot view, what took place is a pretty small thing—and I place some of the blame for that on a group of malcontents who reveled in the carnival atmosphere.
If interviewed about the reasons for their participation, I doubt they would be able to explain the politics of their involvement in the mob mentality.
Mayor Durkan is a tough human being and had no choice but to take the blows. Every mayor has their detractors. In Seattle, where the economic divide is characterized by highly paid workers for Amazon, Microsoft and other tech companies and a horde of low-income employees, there will be a schism.
Our expectation that the mayor should be able to solve all problems isn’t realistic. At the same time, when there is a behind-the-scenes battle with our own city council, the work is all that much more difficult.
The haves and the have-nots are squared off here. The economic boom brought by big tech has a downside for the rest of the citizens who are not feeding at that trough. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, the negative effects are amplified.
Our lead story this week is about the candidacy of Lorena Gonzalez, who lives in West Seattle and has had to face the commute problems since the West Seattle Bridge was closed.
Maybe she has the vision to settle the waters at city hall. Tensions that have arisen during the current administration of both Mayor Durkan and the city council are a big challenge for any politician.
There were tensions between the Council and Mayor from the start. That they were caused by Gonzalez, Mosqueda and Sawant who were clamoring to get themselves noticed by voters in any way possible to support their aspirations of seeking future higher political offices (the other council members also not without blame here). They rush to pass poorly researched legislation without working with or getting input from any stakeholders or experts in the field and don't even want to talk to people in their own City Government before charging ahead. This was shown when they all agreed to hire more police just before the March riots and quickly right after the riots, about faced - vowing drastic cuts to police without consulting any experts in the field or listening to what the effects of this decision might be. They passed rushed legislation on taxing high paid people to fund homeless services to continue the helicoptering of money to non-profits - even SHARE which KING County and United Way stopped funding years ago due to its failure to achieve good outcomes. Again rushed legislation to pass the $4/hour hazard pay based on no analysis - the SCC insight editor did a better analysis than the council! Lorena Gonzalez and the entire council have shown they do not want to listen to neighborhoods, to City Government heads of departments, to the business community. Special interest groups are the only ones that seem to be heard. We see the results of this "leadership". A Mayor's address divulged which was supposed to have been kept secret - with Sawant leading marchers to her house - pressured so hard she will not run again. The police chief resigning - and police leaving SPD for all the other cities around Seattle and Washington - their training was paid for by Seattle Taxpayers. Adoption of soft on crime policies that are severely damaging the ability of businesses to operate in Seattle due to constant shoplifting and property damage to their storefronts. Our parks damaged and unable to be used by the public. We need someone with a new vision to get Seattle back to the safe and vibrant city it once was - someone who is willing to listen to all citizens - not just to special interest groups.