PREVIOUSLY: Amazon gives $350K to group supporting Jenny Durkan for Seattle mayor, its biggest local political contribution ever
One of the more revealing moments in tonight’s Seattle mayoral debate came when the candidates were asked what advice they would give the more than 230 cities bidding for Amazon’s second headquarters, aka HQ2.
Continue reading for the responses from Jenny Durkan, a former U.S. Attorney, and Cary Moon, an urban planner, in one of the final debates before the Nov. 7 election.
Jenny Durkan: I saw they’ve got a map up on the wall now at Amazon of all the cities that want them, and part of it breaks my heart. We’ve got these challenges, there’s no question Seattle has grown too fast. I feel like saying to everyone, I did this in a forum, everybody who thinks you just would like to pause for a minute, we’ve grown too fast, raise your hand, and pretty much everybody raised their hand, and then I said, keep your hand up if you’re from here and were born here, and almost every hand went down. We’re a city that has grown from people coming here. I’m a rare commodity, being born and raised here.
And so I think it’s wrong for us to say, “We’re going to roll up the welcome mat, we’re going to quit growing, we’re not going to be that city that invents the next future.” Yeah, we’ve got these problems. Affordability is really palpable, there’s people in this city that are struggling — struggling! — and economic disparity is truth, we’ve got to get more economic empowerment particularly in South Seattle.
But at the same time, if we face those problems, I think companies will still grow here, want to stay here, want to come here, because Seattle in my view still is the coolest city there is, I don’t care what anybody says.
Cary Moon: Be careful what you wish for. So I think Amazon has been a net gain for our city. We have so many folks who have moved here who have good jobs, we have a tech nexus here like no other place in the country, with all the main tech companies having their #2 office here, and a lot having their #1 office here. So we have this inventive, innovative culture here that I think is really rare and wonderful.
But we have not kept up with growth. We have not planned in advance for all the growth that Amazon brought with them. So we need some time to catch up so I would advise other cities to plan the growth in advance, understand what it’s going to cost, and make sure Amazon is going to help pay for it, because I’m not sure we did that well enough here.
We’re still trying to catch up, and we’re still looking for the money to pay for the impacts that they and other tech companies caused.