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Mayor Durkan touts ‘bold action’ in State of the City address

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s third ‘State of the City’ address Tuesday took place at the Rainier Arts Center.

The mayor’s speech focused on progress on all major issues in the city, including homelessness, the Seattle promise program, and public safety.

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“In the last two years, together we have taken bold action to make our progressive values real in people’s lives,” Durkan said. “Because of our shared actions and commitment, I can tell you today the state of our city is strong and resilient.”

Durkan believes progress comes from hard work and commitment, bringing people together to accomplish a common goal.

Homelessness was featured early on in Tuesday’s speech, highlighting the successes of a “transformed shelter system,” more permanent housing, and the first time since 2012 that “the annual Point in Time Count showed a decline in the number of people living unsheltered.”

“We believe that in a region as prosperous as ours, no one should experience homelessness, and that everyone should have access to safe and affordable housing,” Durkan said.

While Durkan made the progress of the past two years evident, she also recognized there is more to be done. This was a sentiment expressed more than once during her address, in regards to the housing crisis, opportunities for youth, and increasing public safety.

In two years of the Seattle Promise program, which pays for two years of college for Seattle high school graduates, application numbers have continued to rise. This year, 400 students are are attending one of Seattle’s colleges, and nearly 1,800 high school seniors have expressed interest for next year, Durkan said.

Last year, an internship program was created for Seattle Promise students. Due to the success of this pilot, Durkan plans to “more than quadruple the size of this program and launch Seattle Promise Job and Career Pathways.”

Creating more economic opportunities for youth was just one of many factors Durkan views as necessary in the comprehensive efforts to increase public safety.

“For many people, increased public safety means more police officers, changing our gun laws, and a criminal justice system that deals better with repeat offenders,” Durkan said. “Many others believe we need more economic opportunity for youth, more intervention and diversion programs, and more behavioral health treatment. My answer is: We need all of the above.”

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Mayor Durkan continued her speech by talking about small businesses, the 2020 census, alternative transit choices, and climate goals.

“Let’s build that better Seattle together.”

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