SEATTLE — Jenny Durkan, the former U.S. attorney for Western Washington, on Friday formally announced her candidacy for Seattle mayor.
Durkan joins a growing field vying to replace incumbent Ed Murray, who this week announced he wouldn’t run for re-election following allegations by four men that he sexually abused them as teens. Murray has vehemently denied those claims.
Durkan said she’d work to make Seattle more affordable, try to find solutions for the growing numbers of homeless people on city streets and fight against President Donald Trump’s policies.
“We can lead the way on these issues,” Durkan said at a news conference. “I will listen, I will learn, I will lead.”
The 58-year-old Durkan has long been a fixture in Democratic politics in Washington state.
She was known as a formidable litigator before being picked in the first wave of President Barack Obama’s U.S. attorney appointments. She was on the team that successfully represented the state Democratic Party when Republicans challenged the results of the 2004 gubernatorial election, which Chris Gregoire won after two recounts.
Durkan and the Justice Department pushed Seattle into a settlement that overhauled the police department’s training, procedures and record-keeping, all aimed at reducing unnecessary uses of force and curbing biased policing.
She chaired the DOJ’s cybercrime subcommittee, made the prosecution of digital crimes a priority and testified before Congress on cybercrime threats.
In 2011 she also warned against passage of an effort in the state Legislature to legalize medical-marijuana dispensaries and growers. Durkan led a crackdown on certain dispensaries, saying they were fronts for criminal activity. In 2012 Washington voted to legalize recreational pot use. In an essay announcing her candidacy this week Durkan said after that vote she worked to make sure Washington’s new pot law was enacted smoothly and “we cannot go back” to the days when it was illegal.
Murray was expected to cruise to a second term before the sex abuse allegations became public last month. In addition to Durkan, other high-profile candidates include former Mayor Mike McGinn, community activist Nikkita Oliver, urban planner Cary Moon, state Sen. Bob Hasegawa and state Rep. Jessyn Farrell.