Jenny Durkan | Srivideo
Born Name: Jenny Anne Durkan
Born/Date of Birth: May 19, 1958
Place fo Birth: Seattle, Washington, United States
Political party: Democratic
Education: University of Washington, University of Washington School of Law, University of Notre Dame
Partner: Dana Garvey
Parents: Martin Durkan (father) Lorraine Durkan (Mother)
Siblings: Kathleen Durkan
Jenny Anne Durkan (born May 19, 1958) is an American politician currently serving as the mayor of Seattle. Formerly a prosecutor, she served as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington, appointed by President Barack Obama, from October 2009 to September 2014.
Durkan was elected the 56th mayor of Seattle in 2017, becoming the city's first female mayor since the 1920s and the city's second consecutive openly LGBT elected mayor. She took first place in the nonpartisan August primary and defeated urban planner and political activist Cary Moon in the November general election, with over 60% of the vote.
Early life and education
Durkan was born in Seattle in 1958, the fourth of seven children, and grew up in Issaquah, Washington. She attended Forest Ridge School, a private Catholic girls' school.
Durkan earned her B.A. degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1980. After graduating, she moved to a Yupik fishing village on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska, where she taught English, coached a girls' basketball team,
Durkan earned her J.D. degree from the University of Washington School of Law in 1985. "I wanted to be a lawyer since I was 5 years old," she told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 1992. "When I graduated from law school, my mother said, 'Finally someone is going to pay you to argue."'
While in law school, Durkan participated in a pilot criminal defense clinic, working with the public defender's office to represent individuals charged in Seattle municipal court. She continued the work on a pro bono basis, until she moved to Washington, D.C. to practice law with the firm of Williams & Connolly. There she did a range of civil and criminal cases, including representing reporters subpoenaed by the government.
Durkan returned to Seattle in 1991, and established a successful practice focusing on criminal defense and work on behalf of plaintiffs, including the family of Lt. Walter Kilgore, who died in the Pang warehouse fire, the case of Stan Stevenson (a retired firefighter who was stabbed leaving a Mariners game) and the case of Kate Fleming, who died in a flash flood in her Madison Valley basement during the Hanukkah Eve windstorm of 2006.
Among Durkan's most prominent cases in private practice was the 2005 recount lawsuit that attempted to undo Governor Chris Gregoire's election in 2004. The Democratic Party turned to Durkan with Gregoire's election "facing an unprecedented trial and Republicans trying to remove her from office." Gregoire's victory was upheld.
Durkan worked with families and other attorneys at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to prevent the return of people who had arrived lawfully at the airport the day President Donald Trump's first Travel Ban executive order went into effect.
After serving as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Durkan joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to head a new Seattle office specializing in internet and online security issues.
Durkan served on the Washington State Sentencing Guidelines Commission from 1993 to 1996. She served as the first Citizen Observer on the Seattle Police Firearms Review Board from 1997 to 2000 and two Seattle mayors asked her to serve on Citizen Review Committees for the Seattle Police Department. She also played an advisory role on the establishment of the King County Drug Court and the Mental Health Court. She later helped create a specialized drug program in the federal courts in Western Washington.
In September 1994, Durkan left the Schroeter law firm to join the staff of then-Washington Governor Mike Lowry as his lawyer and political adviser. In February 1995, she resigned from Lowry's office and returned to Schroeter.
Durkan is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and maintains an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell. She served a three-year term on the Washington State Bar Association Board of Governors. She served on the Merit Selection Committee for the United States District Court, helping select the candidates for appointment to seven vacancies in the federal judiciary in the Western District of Washington.
Durkan served on the nonprofit board of the Center for Women and Democracy from 2000 to 2009, as a founding Board Member for the Seattle Police Foundation from 2002 to 2004, and as the Chair of the Washington State Attorney General's Task Force on Consumer Privacy, which resulted in legislation that became a national model for identity theft protections.
In May 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Durkan to be the U.S Attorney for the Western District of Washington, which covers 19 counties and is home to 4.6 million people (78% of the state's population). She was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on September 29, 2009, and sworn in on October 1 by Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik.
While U.S. Attorney, Durkan created a Civil Rights Department in the office. It coordinates a variety of civil rights cases and outreach, including a number of cases on behalf of returning veterans. She also has helped push police reform efforts in the Seattle Police Department after a Department of Justice investigation found a pattern and practice of excessive use of force.
Upon taking office, Durkan was appointed to serve on the Attorney General's Advisory Committee, which advises the U.S. Attorney General on policy, management, and operational issues at the Department of Justice. She is chair of the Attorney General's Subcommittee on Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Enforcement. Durkan has played a leading role in prosecuting cybercrimes, including hacking, skimming and identity theft.
Durkan worked with the public schools to ensure internet safety tips for parents and kids were sent home with kids at the beginning of the school year.
Durkan also focused on terrorism and national security issues, including the prosecution of two men who plotted to blow up a military recruitment facility in Seattle.
As U.S. Attorney, Durkan used the federal law against felons possessing firearms to crack down on career criminals in Western Washington. Cases referred for felons-with-guns charges increased 45% during her tenure.
Durkan pushed "hot spot" initiatives in high-crime areas to address drug and gun sales. These investigations and law enforcement operations resulted in dozens of arrests and weapons confiscations.
In September 2014, when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced his intention to step down, Durkan was widely discussed as a potential candidate to succeed him. The Obama administration nominated Loretta Lynch.
Mayor of Seattle
Durkan announced her candidacy for Seattle mayor on May 11, 2017, shortly after incumbent Mayor Ed Murray ended his reelection campaign. She was labeled an "establishment" candidate, among a crowded field in the primary race, and picked up endorsements from Murray and members of the Seattle City Council, as well as The Seattle Times and Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
In the August primary election, Durkan placed first with 27.9% of votes, advancing to the general election with urban planner Cary Moon, who got 17.6%.
Durkan broke the record for most donors and most money raised in the history of Seattle mayoral campaigns, outraising Moon 5-to-1. She raised over $1 million. Murray's political consultant Sandeep Kaushik joined Durkan's campaign and later became a senior adviser to her. Kaushik is also a lobbyist for Comcast and continues to advise Durkan on policy. The day after the November 7 general election, in which Durkan received over 60% of the preliminary votes, Moon conceded to Durkan.
In June 2019, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, an event widely considered a watershed moment in the modern LGBTQ rights movement, Queerty named Durkan one of the Pride50 "trailblazing individuals who actively ensure society remains moving towards equality, acceptance and dignity for all queer people".
Durkan is the daughter of Martin Durkan, a former member of the Washington State Senate who twice—in 1968 and 1972—was a candidate for governor but lost both times in the Democratic primary. Durkan's mother, Lorraine Durkan, was the executive editor of the Ballard News. Her siblings include photographer Tim Durkan and former NBC News correspondent Kathleen Durkan.
Durkan identifies as lesbian. She and her spouse, Dana Garvey, live in Seattle and have two sons.
In July 2017, during a "Candidate Survivor" mayoral forum hosted by The Stranger and the Washington Bus, in the “talent competition” Durkan imitated Melissa McCarthy’s parody of then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer from Saturday Night Live in costume, at one point using the term "colored person". She apologized as soon as she took the stage again, saying she had tripped over her words.
During Durkan's term as mayor, the Seattle Department of Transportation canceled several bicycle lanes and greenway projects that had been planned in previous years under the city's comprehensive bicycle plan and funded in the 2015 Move Seattle levy. In response, several cycling advocacy groups and city councilmembers protested Durkan's decision-making on bicycle issues. She has also been critical of scooter-sharing, with Seattle maintaining its ban on electric scooter-sharing apps, unlike other major U.S. cities.
In March 2018, Durkan halted planning work on the Central City Connector streetcar project, which would link the South Lake Union and First Hill lines of the Seattle Streetcar system, due to cost overruns.
Durkan's selection of a permanent chief of the Seattle Police Department in May 2018 ran into controversy after her list of finalists excluded interim chief Carmen Best, who had also served as deputy chief. After receiving criticism from community activists and the police officers' guild for choosing out-of-state finalists, Durkan defended her decision on the recommendation of a search committee. Best was nominated as a finalist by Durkan after another finalist withdrew to take a different position within the department, and was confirmed as police chief in August 2018 by the city council.
In April 2019, two staffers in the mayor's office accused Durkan of mistreatment and called the working environment "toxic". One of the employees alleged that Durkan had grabbed her face, which the mayor's office denied.
2012 May Day Vandalism Response
During the 2012 May Day protests in Seattle, a federal courthouse was vandalized by masked individuals identified as "black bloc" members. In July FBI agents raided the house of several suspects in Portland, Oregon. These suspects were later found not to have been in Seattle during the May Day protest. The suspects were held at the SeaTac Federal Detention Center in solitary confinement. The Seattle Human Rights Commission condemned the solitary confinement: "There is simply no credible reason for their continued detention in solitary confinement...in an environment known to cause serious and lasting psychological harm."
The Department of Justice and Durkan's office brought the suspects before a federal grand jury, but were unable to obtain confessions from them. Durkan then pressured Judge Richard Jones "to imprison the activists, some for up to five months, in an effort to force them to testify against their peers in the Pacific Northwest’s radical left." Emily Langlie, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Western Washington, said of the DoJ's actions: "It’s not punitive, it's coercive."
Handling of George Floyd protests
During the George Floyd protests in Seattle, the city banned the police from using tear gas to disperse crowds, yet police used the gas anyway. On June 8, three members of the Seattle City Council called for Durkan to resign or be impeached "for gassing her own people." On June 9, hundreds of protesters occupied city hall to demand Durkan's resignation.
After the collapse of Washington Mutual in the 2008 financial crisis—which a Senate investigation found to be “threaded through with fraud"—Durkan’s office did not prosecute a single banker. On her watch, feds raided medical-cannabis dispensaries, and she personally helped block efforts to legalize medical cannabis.
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