Mayor's Race 2017

Labor Groups Divided on Endorsements for Mayor

SEIU 775 and the Martin Luther King County Labor Council didn't see eye to eye on the mayor's race this year.

By Hayat Norimine July 12, 2017

Labor forum jenny durkan jessyn farrell bob hasegawa 060117 copy iwhncq

Jenny Durkan, left, Jessyn Farrell, center, and Bob Hasegawa at the mayoral candidate forum at the Labor Temple on June 1, 2017.

With mayor Ed Murray out of the running for reelection, labor groups SEIU 775 and Martin Luther King County Labor Council members will be divided for the primary election on endorsements for mayor.

This year the MLKCLC, unable to land on a sole endorsement, picked both Jessyn Farrell and Bob Hasegawa in a vote Tuesday night. Nicole Grant, MLKCLC leader, estimated roughly 100 members were there from about 40 different labor groups. SEIU 775 on Tuesday endorsed Jenny Durkan.

Grant told PubliCola both Farrell and Hasegawa held name recognition in the labor community and pushed for issues members cared about in the legislature—transportation infrastructure and paid family leave for Farrell, a public bank for Hasegawa (who was also a Teamsters leader for years before he became a state representative). Grant said her members didn't have that same connection with Durkan.

"(Hasegawa is) an established leader who has a reputation, a track record, name recognition, loyalty—so he’s a very powerful draw," Grant told PubliCola. "And then Farrell...Women workers look at her as a peer, as somebody who’s working their ass off, who’s a mother, who puts workers first every time." 

David Rolf—SEIU 775 president who's known Durkan for well over a decade—said the union has worked closely with Durkan for years and had the longest relationship with her. (She was the union's legal advisor for its training and apprenticeship program.) Rolf told PubliCola he thinks she has a proven track record of uniting constituents on a number of difficult issues like police accountability, civil rights, and cybersecurity. 

"Personally, I'm a big Jenny Durkan fan. She's a fighter and I think she's wicked smart," Rolf said. "Would I have loved to see them endorse Jenny? Sure. I think we've sort of known for some time that the vote count didn't look like that was going to happen...We're very proud and happy with where we ended up in this."

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