Durkan is far from the only mayor calling it quits after an exhausting year navigating the front lines of an unprecedented confluence of crises that touched nearly every aspect of human life. Across the country, mayors in cities big and small, urban and rural, are giving up — for now — on their political careers. In the process, they’re shaking up the municipal landscape, creating a brain drain in city halls and upsetting the political pipeline all over America.
Covid-19 changed the calculus for mayors mulling reelection, but the public health crisis was only a fraction of a much larger equation. The associated economic downturn “decimated” city budgets, leading to months of fiscal headaches before federal aid helped ease the problem. George Floyd’s killing last May sparked protests that grew into a national reckoning on racism and policing that’s still ongoing. And all of that kindling turned an already fiery presidential election into an inferno.
Many city leaders did not want to stick around to stamp out the flames.