UPDATE: Mayor Jenny Durkan announces she’s not running for re-election

With that campaign-style video, Mayor Jenny Durkan has just announced she will NOT run for re-election next year. The emailed announcement quotes her as saying, “”We know stopping the spread of the virus, protecting jobs and focusing on the economic recovery — especially for downtown– is going to take everything we’ve got. As Mayor approaching the last year of my term, that meant a choice. I could spend the next year campaigning to keep this job or focus all my energy on doing the job. There was only one right choice for our city: doing the job. I have decided not to run for reelection because Seattle, we still have some tough months ahead.”

ADDED: Durkan, a former U.S. Attorney, beat Cary Moon in 2017 after the two emerged from a 21-candidate primary. Three candidates have registered campaigns with the city so far – Lance Randall (who filed months ago) and two recent filers, perennial candidate David Ishii and William Kopatich.

Seattle hasn’t had a two-term mayor since West Seattle’s Greg Nickels, who left office a decade ago.

(WSB photo, October 2019)

Durkan has visited West Seattle for more than half a dozen walking tours and town halls since taking office three years ago. Before the West Seattle Bridge shutdown, public safety was the most-frequent topic, and she returned time and again to The Junction to talk with business owners. That’s also the topic on which she and City Councilmembers clashed last summer, with their push to cut the SPD budget leading to the departure of SPD Chief Carmen Best. But more recently, she did not challenge the cuts and changes that made it into the 2021 budget she signed last week.

Her highest-profile action regarding West Seattle, of course, was the decision announced last month to repair rather than replace the cracked high bridge, now in its ninth month of closure. Since Durkan’s term won’t end until late 2021, she’ll still be presiding as most of the repair process plays out.

We’ll update with any post-announcement developments of note throughout the day.

59 Replies to "UPDATE: Mayor Jenny Durkan announces she's not running for re-election"

  • Bradley December 7, 2020 (10:46 am)

    Let the Games begin. Not the best, not the worst. But the next victim will be at a huge crossroads in city government history.  Good luck with that Council. 

  • Good decision December 7, 2020 (10:49 am)

    I hope this decision is motivated in part by unshackling her to make some choices that would otherwise be hard politically. SDOT has so badly mishandled the West Seattle Bridge that the entire agency should be turned upside down and shook out. It has to be done and after going against their bias to leave us stranded for five years I think she sees that need too. I think she’s done ok, under horrible circumstances. And do hope she finishes strong. Thank you Mayor, 

  • Jort December 7, 2020 (10:50 am)

    Wow, who would have thought that a governing strategy of alienating literally every constituency in the city would result in poor political outcomes?!?!? It turns out governing by Seattle Process manages to irritate everybody AND gets nothing worthwhile done. Seattle is an overwhelmingly progressive city; the voters here have proven if over and over again in the last 8 years by repeatedly and decisively rejecting the Seattle Times’ editorial board’s recommendations. Maybe this time we can have an actual progressive mayor and not a wishy-washy, wants-to-please-everyone-by-not-doing-anything-except-maintain-the-status-quo milquetoast politician. See you later, Jenny “I Love Cars” Durkan! 

    • BBILL December 7, 2020 (10:57 am)

      My guess: After January 20, she’s probably getting a better position.

    • Bradley December 7, 2020 (11:14 am)

      So you think Nikita Oliver or Cary Moon would have been more successful?  Progressives should feel fortunate (and probably by design) the mayor and council positions were not on the recent ballot with all the down ballot misses. Let’s see what bubbles up next fall. Popcorn is ready, should be interesting. 

      • Jort December 7, 2020 (11:41 am)

        Help me to understand which “down ballot misses” we had here in the city of Seattle in the 2020 elections?

      • Derek December 7, 2020 (12:38 pm)

        Oliver is great and I hope she runs again. I loved her campaign and what she’s done for this city. She has insane passion and works for the people. She’s literally out on the streets volunteering. It’s time for a great strong POC leader in this city. We desperately need it. Durkan was a major fail.

        • Michael Hock December 7, 2020 (3:21 pm)

          Hey Derek and anyone else who may read this, just a heads up that Nikkita uses they/them pronouns. Love the sentiment behind your comment but wanted to let you know for the future!

    • Joe Z December 7, 2020 (11:49 am)

      The next mayor is absolutely going to be more progressive than Durkan. It will probably be a choice between a softer move to the left (L. González/T. Mosqueda) vs. a far-left candidate.

    • Ivan December 7, 2020 (11:56 am)

      Hey Jort, I hope McGinn comes out of retirement and runs again, or Cary Moon runs again, jut so the voters can drive a stake through the heart of your anti-car dogma once again, like they do every time.

      • Jort December 7, 2020 (12:13 pm)

        Maybe Bob “I Will Personally Kill Light Rail to West Seattle” Hasegawa will run and lose again, Ivan? In the meantime, here are the 80 percent to 20 percent election results in favor of a car tax to fund transit in the city of Seattle: https://aqua.kingcounty.gov/elections/2020/nov-general/results.pdf.  That blowout margin for the car tax, it should be noted, is higher than Joe Biden’s margin over Donald Trump in King County.

        • My two cents ... December 7, 2020 (12:47 pm)

          @jort – regular readers know your position quite well. Question for you is how will the city pay for the conversion, upkeep and maintenance for your bike world? 

          • Jeff December 7, 2020 (2:56 pm)

            Presumably from the general fund, paid mostly by property and sales taxes, which is how the vast majority of all road building and maintenance is funded in the city.    I’m not sure what point you believe you are making. 

  • Kulak December 7, 2020 (10:55 am)

    I wish it were all the city council members instead of her.

    • 1994 December 7, 2020 (5:48 pm)

      Agreed! But I would vote for Debora Juarez for mayor! 

    • martin December 7, 2020 (8:06 pm)


  • martin lee December 7, 2020 (10:58 am)

    Boy, what a hard job. 

  • Kram December 7, 2020 (11:09 am)

    You couldn’t pay me enough. I’d be surprised if anyone was surprised… I wish her luck as she has good intentions for the city agree with her or not. I still don’t understand why the City Counsel and Major are built to be at odds with each other. The leaders we really need would never go into politics.

    • Wseattleite December 7, 2020 (2:49 pm)

      Kram, you nailed an obvious but often unmentioned issue.  Individuals with the right fortitude and intelligence to do the job of mayor are using their skills to analyze and confirm that they should not go near the mess the City continues to roll in. They remain better rewarded elsewhere, having the ability to create solutions and be recognized for it. Smart people tend to flock together. City leadership and the mountain of Inertial inaction resultant of the Citie’s trademark process is a very different flock and habitat from one true professionals chose to be in. 

    • Pelicans December 7, 2020 (7:00 pm)

      Agree. As with POTUS, a good person wouldn’t run for the office. Only awful, self aggrandizing people will.

  • Peter December 7, 2020 (11:24 am)

    Jessyn Farrell, we need you. Please run. 

    • Ivan December 7, 2020 (11:57 am)

      Ugh, no!

    • Hambone December 7, 2020 (1:24 pm)

      Yes!we need some one in politics is who has a backbone and should have done something to not allow things to get out of hand like that they did up on capital hill neighborhood!!

  • Dale December 7, 2020 (11:29 am)

    Scott Lindsay.

    • Ivan December 7, 2020 (11:58 am)

      An even bigger “Ugh, no!”

    • Derek December 7, 2020 (12:39 pm)

      NO. Not Lindsay. 

    • APO December 7, 2020 (12:58 pm)

      Double No!!

  • Darrel Roberts December 7, 2020 (11:46 am)

    Seattle needs progressive government. 

  • Al King December 7, 2020 (11:48 am)

    Jort. You’ll LOVE Cary Moon. Went to a debate when she was running against Durkan. She said she would spend “what it takes” to build city wide protected bike paths.  Why? Because that would SOLVE Seattle’s traffic problems. She was sure that “a vast majority” of Seattleites would sell their cars and only ride bikes. 

    • Jort December 7, 2020 (12:07 pm)

       Cary Moon, like any sane politician, has never once promised to “solve” traffic problems, because it is literally an unsolvable problem. Could you provide sourcing for your quotes that she said “what it takes” and “a vast majority?” Quotes are pretty serious attributions, I’d hate to think you were exaggerating or paraphrasing in order to push a point she didn’t actually say.

  • Al King December 7, 2020 (11:53 am)

    Oh, for those that want an “anti-car” mayor/city council i have a question. No cars means NO car tab revenue. It means NO gas tax revenue. It means NO sales tax revenue.  Who would pay for transit? Where do you want the new mayor to get the money from?? 

    • AJP December 7, 2020 (1:32 pm)

      Very, very few people think you can actually get rid of cars all together. Most proponents of biking own and drive cars themselves. The point is to make biking an easier, safer transportation choice. The population keeps rising, you can’t add more roads, you can’t keep widening roads, we need more transportation choices. For people who can and want to bike, making it easier for them is one less car in front of you at a stoplight. 

      • zark00 December 7, 2020 (3:15 pm)

        Seattle is not conducive to commuting by bicycle – that is why bicycle comminuting has not grown in Seattle, at all, ever. In Sept 2018 Seattle hit a 10 year LOW for commuting by bicycle. We’ve spent millions on bike lanes, connecting biking trails, etc. and the result is literally LESS people riding bikes.The pro-bike crowd just live in this fantasy world where they think Seattle will turn into some bike commute mecca if they just build that one last trail, convert just one more lane.  Not going to happen.  Pro-bike need to understand facts, have a little come to jesus themselves,  and realize that bike commuting is a complete non-starter in Seattle.  We tried it, a lot, and it completely, abjectly, failed across the board.

    • Sillygoose December 7, 2020 (2:10 pm)

      EXACTLY!!  Thank you!

  • Will S. December 7, 2020 (11:58 am)

    I’ve been critical of Jenny Durkan as mayor, but here she deserves credit for making an exceptionally tough decision, and doing so early enough to allow well-qualified candidates to organize effective campaigns next year. I had expected that Durkan would seek a job with the Biden administration, but I’m willing to believe that she now intends to stay through the remainder of her term. It is a selfless choice, and many politicians couldn’t do it.

    • WS2000 December 7, 2020 (1:15 pm)

      Not really a hard decision, when you have no chance of winning. Mostly she saved herself months of ridicule.

  • TJ December 7, 2020 (12:12 pm)

    Durkin was unfortunately the best choice last time. Moon was not equipped for the job, and Oliver was pushing wildly extreme ideas, and who has since been leading many protests while making constant severe inflammatory comments. Hopefully they have given up on running for elected positions, but the city has a core group of street level activists like them that have political desires. I won’t be able to vote in next years election but hope the people vote in a somewhat moderate mayor 

    • Derek December 7, 2020 (12:40 pm)

      Disagree completely. Durkan is basically republican. Moon was nutty. Oliver was the only one with true progressive ideas and an actual plan. Moon and Durkan had no plan. Durkan still has no plan and can’t manage a budget for her life. She’s a corporate lawyer. She’s awful and not equipped. Good riddance Tear Gas Jenny!

  • Derek December 7, 2020 (12:36 pm)

    Pleeeeease run again Nikkita Oliver! You’re the last hope for this city! We need a TRUE leader who fights for the people daily. Not a corporate lawyer. 

    • Kram December 7, 2020 (5:28 pm)

      I don’t see one thing that implies ‘leadership’ looking at her social media accounts. Childish and divisive.

  • wetone December 7, 2020 (12:48 pm)

     As a life longer in Seattle, (long time) I can’t think of any other mayor that has damaged city so quickly as Durkin. Grateful to see her go. Starting  from her backing of alleged child molester Mayor Murray to homeless issues and Summer of Love ideology,  among a few.  Hopefully we get rid of Inslee and Durkin, getting replacements that help/include the working class, businesses, landlords, cleaning this filthy city up and start fixing infrastructure of city………

    • Wsres December 8, 2020 (10:52 pm)

      Wetone, I am with you on Durkan, but Inslee has done well for us. WA is the 3rd best economy in the nation and he is following healthcare recommendations.

  • Peter December 7, 2020 (1:42 pm)

    I can’t help wondering if this decision is because she knows she can’t win, so just wants to skip the hassle. The cronyism and nepotism of her administration and awarding of city contracts, her failure to adequately address rampant abuse of the people by the police, her failure to address at all the massive and systemic fraud in SPD payroll, her all but complete abandonment of the bicycle master plan, and although it was years in the making, the failure to act sooner in the West Seattle Bridge, are all factors that make it very unlikely she could win re-election. I just hope we can get someone decent to run. Jessyn Farrell would be good, and what’s Shannon Braddock up to these days?

  • Graciano December 7, 2020 (1:48 pm)

    I hope all the counsel members follow her lead… 

  • KT December 7, 2020 (2:13 pm)

    Best news I have heard all day.

  • Al King December 7, 2020 (2:29 pm)

    Jort. Moon made that statement at a candidate forum with Durkan in the Montlake neighborhood that i attended. AJP. That’s my question. Most all(including jort)OWN and DRIVE cars. I know we will not build our way out of traffic and we SHOULD encourage transit/biking/walking. The message i hear from the “less cars” people is that “it works for everybody all the time” and oh,by the way i drive when it works for me but everyone else has no valid reason. That way of thinking only clouds any and all reasonable solutions. 

  • flimflam December 7, 2020 (4:24 pm)

    it’ll be worse, i fear – you know it’ll be one of the council or some other far left “activist”.

  • Al King December 7, 2020 (4:31 pm)

    Might add at the forum i attended Durkan was asked how she would “fix” our traffic problems. She laughed and said she was hoping for “the big one” that way we could start all over. Translation:she had no clue either

  • Mj December 7, 2020 (5:31 pm)

    Durkan is clearly not an R.  She is far to far left for my liking.  I give her credit for the right decision to repair the WSB. 

    It would be nice to have a nuts and bolts pragmatic center left person step up to the plate.

    • Michael Hock December 7, 2020 (6:59 pm)

      Durkan gave the police free rein to tear gas her own city’s residents for a month straight and she’s too far *left* for you? I shudder to think about what your idea of a pragmatic centrist is.

      • Resident December 7, 2020 (11:16 pm)

        Did you have a better idea? Using non lethal options is a good thing.

        • Derek December 8, 2020 (8:53 am)

          Yes the better option is no force by police at all. And defund them and take away their toys and tanks and military weapons and reinvest in mental health facilities.

  • Mike R December 7, 2020 (7:09 pm)

    Even in her exit it’s politics. I at least hope that in her exit she actually defends the city from a terrible SPOG contract but I’m pessimistic. Hope I’m wrong. 

  • J December 7, 2020 (8:09 pm)

    Please folks let’s ALL be thankful she is leaving, Durkan has a political career because her father was a big shot politician here in WA. she has been ineffective at best for anything she has tried to do, ever, this latest round as mayor has been a disaster. The next person to get voted into that job will be even far worse… buckle up

    • Peter December 8, 2020 (12:03 am)

      Yeah. There’s been a steady and steep decline in the quality and ability of Seattle mayors since Norm Rice left office. I’m not optimistic about that changing in 2021.

  • Millie December 7, 2020 (10:21 pm)

    Although, I have not always agreed with Mayor Durkan, I can’t help but believe she tried.  Perhaps, if the “perfect storm of COVID-19,  the actions of the Federal government on local  jurisdictions, the protests/demonstrations resulting from the George Floyd shooting, and the unrealistic City Council”, we could be viewing her retirement from office in a different light.  Mayor Durkan has an admirable work history in both public and private sectors.  My hope would be a qualified mayoral candidate appears that could bring the citizens, business, and City government together for the “better good for all”.  It is time we move beyond “it’s only about me” and address the issues facing us collegially and collaboratively.

  • Mark47n December 8, 2020 (5:01 am)

    What Seattle needs is governance. Given the way the city’s process works there is no way to really solve any of the issues that Seattle has, given how a large part of the populace like to nickel and dime the officials that are responsible for governing with their BS regardless of the decision that is made.If it’s not perfect, if it doesn’t check every box, then some group of outraged citizens take offense that they aren’t being listened to, form a committee and have to have a hand in overseeing and blabbering endlessly how no one is listening to them. Couple that to the whole initiative concept we tie the hands of government and then complain when they get nothing done. Honestly, I feel terrible for any political in this town, there is no way to please ANYONE in this town because the compromise needs to govern is forbidden in the zeitgeist of this region and Seattle is the worst.    

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