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Three departing women Seattle city leaders discuss challenges at the top

At Town Hall Seattle Wednesday, Seattle's mayor, school superintendent and former police chief spoke about what ultimately led to their decisions to move on.

SEATTLE — On Wednesday, three departing Seattle women leaders held an honest conversation on what it takes to get a woman in a position of power — and what would help her stay there.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau and former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best spoke at Town Hall Seattle.

In December, both Durkan and Juneau announced their decisions to move on at the end of their terms. Best, the city's first Black woman to serve as police chief, left her position last year.

“While the external supports aren't there, there are many times that having Chief Best in her role and having the superintendent in her role was support for me because they were experiencing many of the same things I was experiencing,” said Durkan.

“Once you're in these positions, the support that comes along with that sometimes is not as present as it should be,” said Juneau.

“I truly believe that we [women] are servant leaders, and if you can't accomplish what you’re doing, if you have become the point of conflict, we are more likely to step out,” said Durkan.

RELATED: City of Seattle losing several women in key leadership roles

The conversation with three of Seattle’s more prominent female leaders was also meant to answer the question of what led all three to decide to move on.

“You are not that job," said Juneau. "You are the person who's trying to carry that out, and once that's a distraction, the mission has to continue."

It started with Best, who retired in September following high-profile protests in Seattle over the summer. She now works as a law enforcement analyst for KING 5.

“People will assume [leaving] had to do something with pay," said Best. "It really wasn't that. It was having to lay off officers that we had worked so very hard to bring in, almost 40% diversity hiring."

"I just wasn’t going to do that,” she added.

Then in December, both Juneau and Durkan announced they would be moving on.

Wednesday, Durkan elaborated on her decision not to seek re-election.

“The things we have to do this year are so hard that even the things people might agree with, they would feel they have to be oppositional because I'm the person doing them,” said Durkan.

Despite all three being celebrated upon starting their positions, they announced their departures with less than four years on the job.