City Hall

City's Inauguration Ceremony Filled with Trump Censures and Pats on the Back

"Seattle, sadly, was not immune from the realities of the national conversation about sexual assault."

By Hayat Norimine January 8, 2018

Jenny durkan seattle mayor swearing in jan 8 2018 bertha landes room gmyumf

The city of Seattle stuck to its core message—as the ultimate symbol of resistance against President Donald Trump—Monday afternoon when it again celebrated its new and reelected officials at a city hall inauguration ceremony.

In the packed Bertha Knight Landes Room—named after the city's first female mayor, elected back in 1926—Mayor Jenny Durkan took the oath of office for what she said was the seventh (and final?) time. As a recap, she got sworn in five times on November 28 in five locations across the city. (In December she did a private swearing in ahead of her official term that started January 1, according to the mayor's office spokesperson.)

At this point, it shouldn't be news to anyone that Seattle elected a female mayor for the first time in 91 years (first lesbian mayor), the Seattle City Council now has a supermajority of women and majority people of color, and two Mexican Americans fill the at-large, citywide seats.

That lineup is something city officials tout proudly and often as Seattle continues to fight the federal administration's stance on sanctuary city policies, climate change, weed, police racial bias, and just about everything else. Place a stand Trump has taken on the political spectrum, and Seattle will be at its exact inverse. 

Still, the sexual abuse allegations against former mayor Ed Murray tainted the city's reputation last year and left the leadership at city hall unstable and scrambling to fill vacant seats. Though most of the elected officials strayed away from any reference to Murray's downfall, council member Lorena González—the first council member to call on Murray to resign—referred to the scandal as one of "historic proportions" that collectively tested the city's leadership.

"Seattle, sadly, was not immune from the realities of the national conversation about sexual assault," said González, a former civil rights attorney. "I was proud to stand on the right side of history then and will continue to do so in the future."

City attorney Pete Holmes, the only white man who was inaugurated, was sworn in for a third term and said he'd work to continue reforming the Seattle Police Department; González officially starts her second term; and newly elected city council member Teresa Mosqueda promised to fight for workers' rights (again after her swearing-in ceremony November 28). 

City council members will be up for a slew of challenges this year; with new committees, they're almost all involved in tackling the city's affordable housing shortage (though Rob Johnson will still be heading zoning and the proposed Mandatory Housing Affordability legislation). Expect council members to also discuss new progressive revenues for homelessness and closing the gender and racial pay gap. The city will likely pull its funding weight on a number of progressive issues, like regional public transit and the homelessness crisis. 

From Durkan's office, free college tuition has been a key part of her platform on the campaign trail—and that leaves to question where the money's going to come from and, if that money in part comes from this year's renewed families and education levy, whether the dedicated funding steers focus away from addressing the K-12 achievement gap; the city has one of the worst racial disparities there.

All this is to say, Seattle still has a lot on its social justice to-do list. 

Updated 10:58am on January 9 to correct that Holmes was sworn in for his third term.

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