Mixed in with strong statements on massive social issues and a look ahead at possible economic issues on the horizon, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan focused on three pillars for new initiatives in her first State of the City address Tuesday: jobs, education, and housing affordability.
“We believe we are all better off when prosperity is shared and is not just for the few,” Durkan said.
In her speech delivered at Rainier Beach High School, Durkan got the biggest round of applause for her new proposal to give free, year-round Orca transportation passes to all 15,000 high school students in the Seattle Public School system. Passes are currently provided by SPS to high school students who live farther than 2 miles from school and to about 3,000 income-eligible middle school and high school students. By fall, Durkan’s plan calls for King County Metro and the Seattle Department of Transportation to fund the new program. UPDATE: To clarify, the new initiative would fund cards for about 7,000 students not currently covered by the other programs.
Durkan also touted her Seattle Promise proposal to provide graduating Seattle public high school graduate free tuition to state community and technical colleges.
It is an honor to deliver the first state of the city address of my first term as Mayor. I'm so excited to be here at Rainier Beach High School, where everybody is somebody
— Mayor Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) February 20, 2018
There were few new specific initiatives. Calling homelessness the “central challenge we face,” Durkan spoke to her proposals for creating more “bridge housing” in Seattle and a move away from emergency shelters as a longterm solution. Saying new housing needs to be created “in every part of our city, in every economic level,” Durkan said she will continue to push for three elements of her homelessness strategy: more low and middle income housing, short term options that are “safe and humane” and “actually moving people into long term solutions,” and, lastly, jobs.
On the jobs front, Durkan sounded her only warning of the day. There is “a deficit on the horizon,” she said, adding that she expects to ask every department to buckle down in next year’s budget process.
Durkan also looked ahead to positive developments to come in the city drawing applause for a promise that hockey fans will be able to begin putting down deposits in March on season tickets for a potential new Seattle NHL franchise. Durkan also looked ahead to “the year of the Waterfront,” Durkan said, as the Viaduct comes down to be replaced by the new 99 tunnel.
The mayor said she is also preparing legislation “to create a new, citywide pilot that will encourage the building of 20 of the most sustainable buildings anywhere.” In the shadow of Capitol Hill’s super green Bullitt Center, CHS looked at the city’s desire to open up its living program more widely here in 2016.
Durkan also let slip she’s earned a nickname at City Hall. We’ll have to wait to see just how many of the big plans she talked about Tuesday are accomplished by the time the next State of the City from “The Impatient Mayor” rolls around.
We’ve posted the full text from Durkan’s address here:
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