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Rantz: Mayor Murray will resign if council doesn’t cower

Ed Murray (File, AP)

The only way Mayor Ed Murray stays in office is if the Seattle City Council refuses to exert pressure on him. If they do light a fire under him, I don’t see how Murray survives an Oregon Child Protective Services Investigation released over the weekend alleging Murray abused his then-foster son.

With one of his biggest allies in Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez arguing he should consider resigning, I would bet Murray announces his resignation by the end of the month, unless the City Council cowers under the pressure of true leadership.

Councilmember Gonzalez wrote that she is “asking the Mayor to consider stepping down as Mayor and to work collaboratively with a subcommittee of the City Council to craft an Executive Leadership Transition Strategy.”

If Murray doesn’t resign, the council can only impeach with a two-thirds majority. Will they? If they were ready to truly lead this city, they would. As of this morning, though, it seems like they’re not yet ready.

Councilmember Tim Burgess says impeachment is premature. But is that because he favors Murray stepping down on his own, or because he doesn’t believe the evidence presented? Council President Bruce Harrell recommended carefully reviewing the new report, but is that what he wants? Harrell can’t be too aggressive — he’ll become mayor if they impeach, making any aggressive stance on this seem self-serving.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant? I imagine she would back impeachment and help tie Murray to Mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan, whom he has endorsed, to help the candidate Sawant endorsed: Nikkita Oliver. I suspect Councilmember Mike O’Brien would follow suit; he, too, endorsed Oliver.

True to form, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw continues to lead with wishy-washyness, claiming “the allegations … these are 30 years old.” True, but does that matter when considering whether or not Murray can effectively lead Seattle?

Here’s a question: knowing what we know now, would Murray be elected in the first place? I suspect not. I think at this point it’s about whether or not he can effectively run the city with the continual drip of damaging news. I suspect he cannot; when your big city council ally calls you out so publicly, who do you have left to work with in the council?

I suppose he could sit back and let the council lead the city. However, if more damaging news comes out it weakens all Seattle leaders, because they will have been shown to sit back and not care that the biggest representation of the city is being perceived as a child molester.

Is Murray innocent? Hey may be. He’s not been charged and the case against him was postponed (perhaps indefinitely). It’s fair, as a matter of law, to point out that the allegations are 30 years old and there have been some suspect moves from Jeff Simpson’s attorneys. But aren’t we beyond what’s best for Murray and should now focus on what’s best for Seattle? If this isn’t the last bombshell report out there, is it fair the city pay the price?

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