The mission to get Mayor Jenny Durkan out of office is now a multi-pronged effort. On top of the recall petition being heard in King County Superior Court, three legislative district Democratic groups in the Seattle area are calling for Durkan's resignation.
The 36th, 37th, and 43rd District Democrats, three of the five Seattle-heavy legislative districts in Washington, each passed a resolution asking for Durkan's resignation. These districts represent hundreds of local Democratic voters across Seattle from the South End to the University District and everything in between.
The resolution from the 36th states that Durkan "has failed to uphold the values of the Democratic Party, has failed in her responsibility to keep the people of Seattle safe, and has lost the trust of the people of Seattle." If she doesn't resign, the resolution calls on the City Council to impeach Durkan. If that doesn't work, the resolution urges other people to challenge Durkan in her 2021 reelection campaign.
As of tonight the @36th, @37Dems, and @43rdDems have all called on @MayorJenny to resign. Seattle deserves a Mayor who will protect our protesters and journalists from police violence and who will work to defund SPD. https://t.co/3eCW8nyseM
— 43rd District Dems (@43rdDems) July 16, 2020
Jazmine Smith, a member of the 36th district, was one of the co-sponsors of the resolution. According to Smith, the resolution was written around six weeks ago when demonstrations started on Capitol Hill. Smith was witnessing one thing through livestreams of protests and hearing another at Durkan's press conferences.
"Mayor Durkan was lying to us," Smith said, "and gaslighting us about things where we had video evidence where that wasn’t the case. It created this culture in our city of being terrified of the institutions of power."
Back in June, progressive leaders signed an open letter calling for Durkan's resignation. Behind the scenes, Smith and three other 36th district members drafted the resignation resolution in collaboration with other legislative districts. That was over a month ago.
"The reality is," Smith said, "nothing has really changed in that time period to improve the situation" or sway opinion on Durkan's leadership. "If anything," Smith said, "more reasons have piled on for why we need resolutions like these for protecting our city."
Nicole Gomez, the chair of the 36th district, was "surprised" and also "not at all surprised" by the way the vote shook out, she said.
"It is a very rare thing for our organization to do this," Gomez said. "Calling for a resignation is a big deal and we don’t take it lightly. It’s something that our membership gets very concerned about. They are thoughtful and pragmatic and so I wasn’t sure how this would go."
The 36th Legislative District Democrats do not appear to have called for former Mayor Ed Murray to resign back in 2017 after he was accused of multiple child sexual abuse allegations. Summer Stinson, policy director in the 36th, confirmed that they did however call for Bailey Stober, the former chair of the King County Democrats, to resign.
Membership per legislative district ranges in the hundreds—Gomez claims her district alone has anywhere from 300 to 500 members and their email list reaches around 4,000 people. These resolutions and the signatures of the districts' members will be sent to the Seattle City Council, Gomez said.
"You can only pepper spray so many community members before even the non-radical members of your community are fed up," said Devin Glaser, a member of the 37th Legislative District Democrats. He described his district as "the core Robert's Rules of Order, boring resolution-passing constituents of the Democratic Party." They voted 2 to 1 to call for Durkan's resignation.
When asked for comment, a spokesperson for the mayor said, “Mayor Durkan won’t be distracted by Councilmember Sawant’s impeachment efforts, and instead, she is focused on the challenges facing our city including our spiking COVID-19 cases, our economic crisis, 2020 budget gap, and the work to transform SPD and dismantle systemic inequities.”
Councilmember Kshama Sawant, the lone socialist on the council, was not involved in the "impeachment effort" of these resolutions from the Democratic legislative district organizations. The mayor's spokesperson clarified that the connective tissue here is that Sawant has said she is willing to draft articles of impeachment, if it comes to that. Still, I was hoping for at least a more specific boilerplate statement from the mayor's office.
Durkan has repeatedly attempted to frame calls for her resignation or impeachment as coming from one source: Sawant. Durkan blamed a protester-led march to her home on Sawant and sent a letter to council leadership urging the council to investigate Sawant. Just to cross my t's and dot my i's, I asked the organizations whether Sawant was involved in their resolution decisions.
"No, these resolutions were written by Democrats," Stinson said. "As much as Mayor Durkan would like to believe she has one person questioning her leadership she needs to face the harsh reality that she has many, many Democrats and unions asking for her to resign.”
Glaser was "pissed" at Durkan's office's attempt to link this action back to Sawant.
"She's hoping to turn one council member into her enemy," Glaser said, "when she actually is facing a full-on progressive revolt from within her own party."
To put it any other way—and to blame it on Sawant—"is erasing our voices," Stinson said.