Lorena Gonzalez removes campaign ad labeled ‘racial stereotype’ by opponent
With a matter of days until the November election, Seattle mayoral candidate Lorena Gonzalez apologized to her supporters for a campaign advertisement that had been criticized by Black civic leaders for perpetuating racial stereotypes
The ad — which implied that a white sexual assault survivor’s trauma was connected to mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell’s expression of doubt regarding allegations of sexual abuse against former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray — was taken down following Black community leaders’ calls for the message to be removed.
“In an effort to give voice to survivors, my campaign produced an ad with a white survivor of sexual assault, who was willing to tell her story,” Gonzalez said in a video message Oct. 25. “As someone who has dedicated her life to fighting for and lifting up the needs and voices of people of color, I am sorry we did not work harder to center the voice of a sexual assault survivor from our community of color who was also willing to tell their story.”
The advertisement was predicated on statements that Harrell made to the media in 2017 amid calls for Murray’s resignation over child sexual abuse allegations.
“I’m not asking him to step down, … [do] not ask us to judge anyone for something that happened 33 years ago or maybe didn’t happen,” Harrell said at the time. “We just don’t know. And I would ask that I don’t want to be judged for anything 33 years ago. … I would challenge each of you to think about where you were 33 years ago. The question is are you doing your job today, right now?”
Harrell condemned the advertisement as a deliberate ploy to stoke racial animus.
“Voters have responded to my message of unity and calls for action on homelessness,” Harrell said in a news release. “But instead of sharing her vision for our city, my opponent instead launches a desperate last minute attack on my credibility and my race. I have spent my life working in our communities, fighting for marginalized people, victims of hate, bias, and violence. This ad is not only insulting to me, it is harmful to the next generation of minority leaders. We must reject these divisive, personalized politics and get to work for the people of Seattle.”