Open Letter to City Employees

I want to thank you all for your service. You keep our City going each and every day for our residents, businesses, and visitors. Today all of us owe a special thanks to those at Seattle City Light who have worked non-stop to restore power after this week’s wind storm, and to our first responders who responded to many emergencies and worked hard to keep people safe. 

In the past few months, Seattle has seen significant transition–I know that this period of uncertainty has been tough on our city employees.

I am honored that soon I will have the great opportunity to serve as your Mayor; but with the honor comes a deep responsibility. We have great challenges. In many ways, our growth has far outpaced our infrastructure. Affordability is deeply impacting our city. People experiencing homelessness need a home. Our transportation system has many challenges. We can and must rise to these challenges, while at the same time, we ensure the safety of our City and deliver basic services to residents and businesses–from electric and water service to filling potholes and clearing our roads.

You are the front lines of tackling these challenges–big and small–every day, and it will take all of us working together to build a progressive, innovative and inclusive city for the next generation. I know we are up to not just tackling these challenges, but to seizing the opportunities that will continue to make Seattle the great City we love. We are the city that invents the future—and we will continue to look to the horizon and create that better future.

I’ve been working closely with Mayor Burgess, the City Council, city officials, and your city employee union leaders to ensure a smooth transition come November 28. I know there is a lot of uncertainty around forthcoming changes and what the city may look like in the near future.

This past week, I’ve appointed a full transition committee, which includes many well-respected community and labor leaders, that will develop short-term policy solutions focused on housing, homelessness, affordability, and many others. In addition, I’ve appointed two Deputy mayors and will be announcing additional mayoral staff shortly. While this transition period is unprecedented, my promise to you is that I will focus on what’s best for our City and implement any future changes with city employees in mind. They say “Rome was not built in a day,” and we will not rush change, just for changes’ sake. I will work hard to recognize and preserve the many great things you do, while also make changes necessary to achieve progress on the most pressing challenges.

I want to hear from you because your views matter. I know many of you hold the key to new ideas and solutions. We need urgent action on homelessness, housing, and transportation, and I know you have great ideas, so I hope you’ll e-mail those to me at Jenny.Durkan@seattle.gov. And I want to continue getting your thoughts after I take office.  

A former Mayor, Bertha Knight Landes, was quoted as saying she thought Seattle is not really a city–but it’s really “only a larger home.”

That’s how I also think of Seattle. We have to build it as a place where everyone has a home. A place where people are united and engage in dialogue with one another. Where we are a city that will be equitable and inclusive. And where every person regardless of their race, gender, their faith, or their economic status has a place.

People in Seattle care, and I know we can build and strive to be an even better City. 

With sincere appreciation,

Jenny