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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 1, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 48
Jenny Durkan sworn in as first woman mayor since 1920s
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Jenny Durkan sworn in as first woman mayor since 1920s

Takes action on homelessness, race, education

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Jenny Durkan was sworn in on November 28 as Seattle's first woman mayor since Bertha Knight Landes in the 1920s.

In a break with tradition, she chose to hold her inauguration ceremony at the Ethiopian Community Center in Rainier Beach rather than at City Hall, as her predecessors have done.

Later she also made appearances in the Delridge neighborhood of West Seattle, Chinatown-International District, Phinney Ridge, and Lake City.

'It is a great opportunity to serve as your mayor, but with the honor comes a deep responsibility,' Durkan told a standing-room-only crowd at the Ethiopian Community Center.

'Our challenges are real, but people across our city are ready to work together to tackle our shared challenges and seize the opportunities that will continue to make Seattle the great city we love. We are the place that invents the future - and there is no doubt in my mind that working together, we will continue to look out to the horizon and create that better future for the next generation.'

In her first official action as mayor, Durkan, signed an executive order to assist low-income renters pay for housing.

According to Durkan's office, her executive order includes four measures to help renters with housing costs:

o To immediately reduce costs for the hardest hit, households on the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) waitlist will be contacted in the first few weeks to determine if they are eligible. If they are eligible for reduced utility rates, they will be expedited into the Utility Discount Program or other programs to help reduce their expenses.

o By January, a pilot Seattle Rental Housing Assistance Program will be developed.

o By the end of January, the Office of Housing (OH) and the SHA will develop partnerships to expedite placement of those on the SHA waitlist through the Multifamily Property Tax Exemption (MFTE) program.

o By March, there will be progress on the creation of an affordability portal to streamline benefits for Seattle residents.

'On a daily basis, Seattle residents are being forced from their homes and our city as rent prices continue to skyrocket,' Durkan said in a statement.

'Our housing affordability crisis needs urgent remedies: families and individuals should not be forced to choose between buying much-needed medications, heating their homes, buying groceries, or paying their rent. While this action is only one tool for addressing our affordability crisis, families who need it most will see money back in their pockets now...

'This combination of immediate strategies hopefully can make the difference between keeping a roof over the heads of struggling families or forcing them onto the streets or into their cars,' she added. On her first day in office, Durkan also called for a review of how the City is carrying out the Race and Social Justice Initiative that requires implicit bias training for City department directors.

The next day, November 29, Durkan announced her 'Seattle Promise' college-tuition program, which would offer all of the city's public high school graduates two years of free community college.

'There is no better investment we can make as a city than in the education of our young people,' Durkan said.

The program will begin next fall with a new group of graduates from Cleveland, Chief Sealth, and Rainier Beach High Schools and by offering a second year of free college to students now benefiting from an existing program, the 13th Year Scholarship.

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Jenny Durkan sworn in as first woman mayor since 1920s
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