Effective today, Jessyn Farrell is no longer a state legislator.
Farrell, elected state representative for the 46th District (North Seattle) in 2012, announced her resignation Wednesday to focus on the mayor's race. Not being in the legislature now allows her to fundraise in a competitive, 21-candidate race—and her biggest opponent arguably is former U.S. attorney Jenny Durkan, whose campaign reported raising $100,000 in just one week.
"It is with a heavy heart that I do this. It has truly been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of the 46th district in the last five years in Olympia," Farrell said at the University District Food Bank on Wednesday afternoon. "At the same time, I'm excited to bring the track record and the skills I have to the truly urgent issues that we face in the city."
Farrell—a former director of the Transportation Choices Coalition, a progressive who appeals to urbanists and environmentalists and has garnered support from Democratic state and local lawmakers—could make it through the primary. Her ability to raise money just gave her another competitive edge. She was joined at her press conference Wednesday by two state representatives (Nicole Macri and Noel Frame), lieutenant governor Cyrus Habib, state auditor Pat McCarthy, and council member Rob Johnson.
"I know Jessyn well," Johnson said Wednesday. "I know she’s got the policy chops and the political skill to be able to continue the work that we have started at the city to really make sure we’re building affordable housing near our transit centers."
But that leaves her House seat open at a crucial time in state politics; legislators have yet to determine a solution to the state's education funding crisis, and they began a second special session last week. The House already has a slim Democratic majority of 50-48 seats, so Farrell's vacancy leaves the vote at 49-48 as lawmakers grapple with the Supreme Court mandate to provide more state funding—rather than rely on local levies—for public schools. The narrow vote could be an issue in the event of an absence.
What's next? 46th District precinct committee officers will select three candidates to move to the King County Council for the appointment process to fill Farrell's seat. Farrell has endorsed Nigel Herbig—her legislative assistant, a former aide to Tim Burgess and Kenmore city council member.
Farrell at the press conference Wednesday answered general questions about transit, affordable housing, and homelessness. She said she wants services to be provided at the encampment sites, build more tiny homes, and partner with other cities like Bellevue and Puyallup to address homelessness; take a "comprehensive inventory" of government-owned surplus property for affordable housing and more investment; streamline the permitting process for transit projects at the local and state level and make Sound Transit eligible again for state funding.