Sawant pens statement protesting Durkan appointment
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant issued a statement directed at Mayor Jenny Durkan on Thursday, refusing to advance the mayor’s appointment for a new permanent Human Services Director.
A little background on the growing feud:
Durkan recently tapped Human Services interim director Jason Johnson to permanently lead the department tasked with combating homelessness in Seattle.
Sawant is in turn stalling the nomination process in the council’s Human Services committee (that she leads), objecting to the way Durkan chose Johnson, claiming it was too secretive and didn’t included community buy-in.
That culminated in a written statement from Sawant directed at Mayor Durkan.
“Regardless of what one thinks about Mr. Johnson’s qualifications, it’s quite clear that your office has failed to use an inclusive approach to candidate search,” it reads. “Indeed, it appears you have not conducted any search at all. That is a disservice to HSD workers, human service providers, and to the most vulnerable in our community.”
She goes on to call for “an open, transparent, and inclusive candidate search,” putting forth a committee resolution recommending that process take place. The resolution will be discussed Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 6 p.m.
Mayor Durkan’s office issued a statement of its own following the introduction of the resolution.
While the mayor has had a thoughtful hiring process for each of her appointments, Councilmember Sawant, who fires and hires staff at the direction of an outside political committee, is refusing to move forward on confirming a qualified LGBTQ candidate who has a proven record, including over the last year as Interim Director. Jason has gone through the most exhaustive and exhausting process by actually doing his job. It’s time for Councilmember Sawant — who has been absent as chair of her committee — to do hers.
In that statement, Mayor Durkan’s office is referring to a report from SCC Insight alleging that Socialist Alternative — an outside political interest group — wields “decision-making authority over the running and staffing of Sawant’s office.”
This all comes at a time when Sawant — and six of her fellow councilmembers — are up for reelection.