LOCAL NEWS

Former Council President Bruce Harrell announces campaign for Seattle mayor

Mar 16, 2021, 10:31 AM | Updated: 6:39 pm
bruce harrell, mayor...
Bruce Harrell announces his candidacy for Seattle mayor on March 16, 2021. (KIRO Radio, Hanna Scott)
(KIRO Radio, Hanna Scott)

Former Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell announced his campaign for Seattle mayor Tuesday, as the latest major name to throw their hat into the ring.

Harrell reenters the political fray after stepping down from his position as a Seattle City Councilmember in 2019. At the time, he intimated that three terms on the dais was “sufficient in this role.”

“I’m announcing my candidacy to be the next mayor of Seattle” Harrell proclaimed as he stood surrounded by supporters and family outside of his Alma Mater, Garfield High School, Tuesday morning.

“I think it’s very fitting that during the coming of spring, when we think about a rebirth and revitalization, a resurrection, if you will, that is appropriate that I announced my candidacy,” he added.

Why now?

“Look at what Seattle has become,” Harrell exclaimed.

“It’s not political theater when people continue to live under bridges and in cars. It’s not political theater when buildings are vacant and boarded up. It is not political theater when racial hatred and crime are commonplace in our city. This is not the Seattle where I was born, It is not the Seattle where my Black grandparents came to escape the Jim Crow laws of the South for opportunity and hope. This is not the Seattle where my Japanese parents left a small village in Kumamoto, Japan to seek refuge and build a community for themselves and engage in hope and love. This is not the Seattle that was the basis for their dreams,” Harrell explained.

Seattle begins mailing out democracy vouchers

Harrell was first elected to city council in 2007, briefly serving as acting mayor in September 2017 after then-mayor Ed Murray stepped down amid allegations of sexual abuse. Harrell also ran for mayor in 2013, failing to advance out of the August primaries after receiving the fourth most votes behind Ed Murray, Mike McGinn, and Peter Steinbrueck.

“Over the past few weeks I have been energized by so many of you who have reached out to share your ideas and visions for our city: how we can, and must, unite around our shared progressive values to reset the dialogue in City Hall and make real, sustained progress on the issues we face,” Harrell said in a letter announcing his campaign.

At his formal announcement, Harrell made his positions clear.

Harrell had been serving as Chairman of the Board of an African American non-profit that raises money for educational scholarships to underrepresented students, particularly African American students.

Harrell explained how he and colleagues had worked tirelessly to raise funds to get much needed items to those in need until March of last year when COVID hit and the pot dried up. Still, they tried and dug in their own pockets to prove for some. All the while Harrell said, ‘We saw our government at all levels, epitomized in effectiveness, divisiveness, finger pointing, we saw racial violence in the summer and property destruction and hopelessness at perhaps unprecedented levels,” said Harrell.

Harrell vowed with his administration there would be no excuses.

“The buck stops here, the problems that need to be solved, there on our shoulders or on my shoulders as mayor,” he said.

Harrell pointed to his experience and history working with the SPD through the consent decree during his 12 years on the council and more as the former chair of the Public Safety Committee, as well his experience negotiating with the unions.

“I’m going to ask the voters who do you want going in negotiating the next contract with SPOG someone with the passion and the tenacity and the personal experiences of racism in that room working with them, but not coming from a position of hate but with a position of realizing that they were called to protect and serve, that they denounce what happened to George Floyd as well. And when we talk about George Floyd for many of us, we’ve watched other George Floyd’s in our life we have experiences, not at that level of violence, but we know what trauma is about, and we want our police department to understand that,” explained Harrell.

Harrell stressed he would not engage in dirty politics or negative campaigning, but there was one area he did not hold back on – former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best.

“I think it’s quite frankly disgraceful how the city treated her number one, and I’m not going to pull the punches on that,” said Harrell, who explained his background as an attorney will go a long way in the negotiating strategy with the unions because it begins by determining where the common ground is and growing from there.

He’s long been rumored to join what’s becoming a more competitive field of mayoral candidates by the month, as he steps in to challenge early fundraising frontrunners Colleen Echohawk, Lorena Gonzalez, and Andrew Grant Houston.

On learning of Harrell entering the race, Gonzales – the current council president – took to social media saying she welcomes her predecessor into the race and invited Harrell and the rest of the crowded field to follow her lead and accept only democracy vouchers, not corporate dollars in running their campaigns.

There are now 14 total candidates running to replace exiting incumbent Mayor Jenny Durkan, who announced late last year that she would not be seeking a second term. The official filing window for mayoral campaigns in Seattle will span five days between May 17 and May 21, 2021.

KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott contributed to this report.

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Former Council President Bruce Harrell announces campaign for Seattle mayor