Pride Feature: Seattle Mayoral Candidate Jenny Durkan on Bette, Babs, Beyonce and Trans Rights

Pride Feature: Seattle Mayoral Candidate Jenny Durkan on Bette, Babs, Beyonce and Trans Rights

- in Politics, Local
Jenny Durkan
Jenny Durkan

Now that Pride season is among us here in Seattle, The Seattle Lesbian decided to have a little chat with mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan.

Durkan revealed to us her plans for Pride (hint: they include Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand), transgender rights and her plans to help small business owners – if she secures a spot on the August ballot.

“Getting together with friends and celebrating is my favorite part of Pride,” Durkan said. “I am amazed at how Pride has grown over the past 25 years. We have come a long way from the annual debate on whether we should have a Pride Parade [the men] or a Pride March [the lesbians]. I love the sense of community that Pride brings to not just the LGBTQ community, but all of Seattle.”

Durkan knows a few things about the fight for civil rights…and pushing barriers, in general.

“I grew up in a big, Irish Catholic family,” she writes on her website. “Eight kids. It was loud. Lots of laughter, some arguing and a fair bit of fighting for what’s yours. When I graduated from law school my mother said, ‘Finally, someone is going to pay you to argue.’ I guess I’ve always had a bit of a fighting spirit.”

It will be needed. At least count, there were 21 mayoral candidates in the Seattle race.

In the meantime, there’s Pride to consider – and enjoy.

“We will be at Bette, Babs and Beyonce, Trans Pride, Family Pride, Seattle Dyke March, and marching on Sunday,” Durkan revealed. “Come say hello!”

Regarding transgender issues, the first transgender candidate running for Seattle City Council, Mac McGregor, is highly revered by Durkan.

“We are living through a historic time for transgender rights,” Durkan said. “I am proud that in Seattle we have the first transgender candidate running for Council. I am also proud that people across Washington are coming together to fight I-1552.”

Jenny Durkan's campaign held a Wonder Woman screening in Seattle/Facebook
Jenny Durkan’s campaign held a Wonder Woman screening in Seattle/Facebook

Questions from Our Readers

We received the following questions from our readers and asked Durkan to respond.

Question 1: I am a small business owner here in Seattle who has had the opportunity to be up close and personal with the city council over the last year. I am frustrated at the lack of support and representation this city council has for small business owners. I want to know Jenny’s thoughts on helping small business.

Durkan: Supporting our small businesses is critical to the economic health of this city.  I have been visiting neighborhoods listening to concerns of small business owners – from traffic and parking to homelessness and the rising cost of doing business in Seattle.  As Mayor, I will work with small businesses to find solutions to those problems.  I truly believe that our small businesses form the backbone of many of our neighborhoods – from the local bar or restaurant, to bookstores or the funky shops.  We need to take affirmative steps to protect them from rising costs, where possible.  I would look forward to discussing what options would best serve businesses.  Ideally, we can find some way to reduce fees and B&O taxes.

As a start, we would help small businesses better understand and navigate city rules and regulations.  Also, we must do a better job of working with small businesses to manage impacts of construction.  My commitment is to bring small businesses to the table to work with the City as a partner in finding solutions to the challenges we face.

Question 2: As a resident of Ballard, I am greatly affected by the homeless population to the point that I now hesitate to let my 13 & 15 year old daughters walk around downtown Ballard. I also see the city council spending a lot of time and resources on the homeless while so many other issues fall to the way side. How does she plan to address the homeless crisis in Seattle?

Durkan: There is no question that homelessness is one of the most significant issues facing our city today, and if elected mayor, I will make it a priority. We have to be compassionate and respectful of people experiencing homelessness. We also need to get people in housing and not living in tents, under bridges and in their cars. There are thousands experiencing homelessness in our city. That’s heartbreaking and unacceptable.

Above all else, homeless families and individuals need a safe and stable home. Removing barriers to permanent housing requires not just shelter alternatives, but also requires tackling a variety of challenges, including employment, stable schooling for kids, and addiction and mental health services. If we do not address these systemic problems, we will not be able to find durable solutions.  I am committed to smartly directing city resources while working with service providers, caring philanthropists, communities, individuals and businesses dedicated to finding solutions.

I recently laid out some immediate steps we should take to get people off the streets and into safe housing.

I don’t think there is one “magic bullet” or one-size-fits all solution to this complex, multifaceted problem and we should continue to seek new, innovative solutions and to do so in better collaboration and coordination with the County and other partners.

Question 3: What will you do about the incredible amounts of substance influenced driving arrests with little to no legal ramifications for the drivers unless there is a fatality?

Durkan: As a city, we have to reduce the number of impaired drivers on the road. This requires a mix of education, enforcement and transportation alternatives.

I would work with SPD leadership and the City Attorney to determine how we reduce this problem.  We can also do more to provide accessible transportation alternatives, including buses, trains, allowing cars to park overnight, and discounted taxi or ride sharing services. For example, the Seattle Department of Transportation funds Night Owl Routes (82, 83, and 84), and partners with Metro to fund additional Night Owl service on the C and D Lines between 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.

We also need to continue education and outreach around all forms of impairment and also be serious about enforcement. The Washington State Legislature recently passed legislation signed by Governor Inslee that would enhance the penalties for repeat impaired drivers. We also need to avoid repeat offenses in the first place by providing meaningful access to drug and alcohol addiction services.

The Seattle Lesbian thanks Durkan for this interview and answering reader questions without hesitation. Happy Pride to all!



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  1. Pingback: Week in Review: Baldwin speaks out about health care, trans candidates gain momentum, and more - Victory Fund

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