This morning, the local comedian Brett Hamil posted on Facebook a video of Jenny Durkan mic-grabbing during her mayoral debate with Cary Moon on Friday, October 20. It's just shocking. Durkan reaches over KVRU station manager Sharon Maeda and grabs the mic and forces her words into it. This incident recalled another one that happened this summer in The Stranger's office.
During the Stranger Election Control Board's June 6 endorsement meeting with six candidates for mayor, Steven Hsieh, the news editor, asked local lawyer and activist Nikkita Oliver for her thoughts on a point made by the Seattle Times' Danny Westneat concerning her voting record. He wrote that it was "spotty... especially for someone seeking high office." Was this criticism fair?
Everyone in the room saw and heard Hsieh direct this question to Oliver and expected a response from her. But before she could answer for herself—and, indeed, before Hsieh even reached the final words of his question, guess who jumped right over Oliver and proceeded to answer the question? If it took you effort to guess Durkan, then you have no idea of the real and deep differences between her and her opponent, Cary Moon, in the mayoral race. It is night and day.
Without a hint of a second thought, Durkan kicked into action: She could defend Oliver better than Oliver could defend herself. And by her tone and intensity, you could tell she thought she was doing a great thing by doing this thing. She was setting the record straight for the only black woman in the room. Would she have done the same for Jessyn Farrell or Cary Moon? Why did she feel so compelled to put words into Oliver's mouth? Not only that, when she talked for Oliver, she made Oliver talk about how great Durkan is: "I'm going to stand up for [Oliver] because I probably did the most work around voter rights as anyone in the election..."
Everyone in the room was visibly shocked. But Durkan did not notice this wall-to-wall shock at all. She was fighting the good fight for the black woman next to her: "I think we judge Nikkita on [her] involvement and contribution to the city, and no one has been more committed to the people here."
As Durkan spoke for the black woman, who eventually got a chance to speak for herself, Bob Hasegawa leaned over to Cary Moon and said: "White privilege in action." Durkan did not appear to hear this comment. It seemed she could hear only herself.
Those who attended the KVRU debate and saw how Durkan responded to Oliver when asked why she deserved her vote, please listen to this recording of Durkan speaking for Oliver, right in front of Oliver.
A pattern is forming. It looks like Durkan's mode. You can also see it in the mic-grab. You can hear it when she talks for a black woman. Durkan should not be confused with Moon.