City Councilmember Bruce Harrell was officially sworn in as Seattle’s 54th mayor Wednesday at 5 p.m., just one day after Ed Murray resigned.
“I don’t see this as a care taking obligation, I see this as an opportunity to set the stage for excellence,” Harrell said.
Harrell has until Monday at 5 p.m. to officially announce if he will remain mayor or hand the responsibility off to another council member. He said, however, that he has given himself a personal deadline of Friday to decide and that he will make his decision known then.
“My wife Joanne Harrell is here, so actually it’s Joann’s decision to make,” he quipped. “But after Joann makes the decision, it will be mine to make.”
Moments after taking the oath of office, Harrell signed an executive order directing Fred Podesta, the city’s director of executive administration, to develop a transition plan that will work with the city and the two leading mayoral candidates — Cary Moon and Jenny Durkan.
If Harrell chooses not to remain mayor, he recommends the council take action within five days to select a colleague to step into the role. He has recommended that the council be ready to take action at its next meeting is on Monday, Sept. 18. Harrell noted that it is important to have the issue solved before Sept. 25 when the city presents its budget.
“Over the next few months our highest priority will be the budget,” he said. “… it’s probably some of the most important work we will do because it is where we align our resources with what we say our values are.”
Whoever is mayor over the coming weeks, it will head the city until after the November election. Once the election results are verified, whoever is voted in will take office immediately. Normally, the next mayor would take office after the new year.