In her third State of the City address, Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan highlighted many initiatives that mirrored her platform in the 2017 election as she begins her 2021 reelection campaign. Here are a few takeaways from the speech.
Small businesses and workers’ rights received the most actionable attention. For the entrepreneurs and small businesses that provide nearly 200,000 jobs in Seattle, Durkan promised to reduce city permit turnaround by nearly one-third, a process that can currently keep a business from opening for months at a time. She also promised to increase the Emergency Stabilization Fund, a program the Mayor’s office piloted in 2019, that gives grants of up to $25,000 to low-income owners in high-risk neighborhoods to help them weather issues that would otherwise close their businesses.
With tax help, Durkan promised to continue to increase affordable transit options around the city. Over the last two years, her office has doled out over 14,000 free ORCA passes to students and low-income residents, as well as increased Metro bus services by 32 percent over two years. But a tax initiative to support those efforts will expire at the end of the year. Durkan announced she will soon present a plan voters in the coming weeks, ahead of the election, outlining why they should vote it through again.
Homelessness and affordable housing efforts will be stump staples during her 2021 campaign. Durkan repeatedly brought up the $1.5 billion the city has invested in affordable housing efforts since she took office. She thanked King County executive Dow Constantine for his work on the new regional homelessness authority and touted the success of the Mandatory Housing Affordability legislation, which rezoned communities and forced developers to build affordable housing (or contribute to a fund to support it). At the same time, Durkan didn’t reveal any specific plans to tackle the city’s housing problems in the future.
To read or view the entire speech, click here.