Interview: Bruce Harrell lays out plans to be ‘a change agent’ as Seattle’s next mayor
With Lorena Gonzalez conceding on Thursday night, Bruce Harrell now becomes Seattle’s presumptive mayor-elect. He spoke to KIRO Radio’s Gee & Ursula Show on Friday to describe his priorities moving forward, as he begins to get his mayoral administration off the ground.
Asked by a KIRO Radio listener about how he planned to bring much-needed change to Seattle despite having already served in city leadership for years, Harrell spoke about his experience as a positive.
“When I was on the council for 12 years, my decisions were data based — I did the research, I put in the hard work,” he described. “My budgets were strong. We funded the police department in unprecedented numbers. I was never attacked on my legislative record for 12 years when I was in office.”
In the months and years to come, Harrell hopes to “be a change agent,” while working closely with the city council to ensure a cooperative relationship.
“That’s not going to be a heavy top-down approach because the process will be collaborative,” Harrell said. “Not only just the council, but the people, the community, the neighborhoods.”
“My legislation coming from our floor will be a very collaborative process, but we have a sense of urgency,” he continued. “The city is starving for action, and so I can’t sit around here and let perfection get in the way of effectiveness.”
Once he assumes office in January, Harrell will have a long list of difficult issues to tackle. That includes how he plans to address calls for reimagining the Seattle Police Department, while still ensuring it has adequate staff and funding.
“In defense of the police department, they have to have more funds,” he noted. “… But I’m still not seeing the sense of urgency in terms of building community trust. I want them to feel empowered to talk about some of the accountability needs of this city, and also be open about how they’re feeling.”
“I think that the city will recognize a lot of the pressure they are under, and it has a sort of a two-way conversation,” he added. “They need to know that they are empowered to have this dialogue with the city.”
Equally as important to many Seattle voters is addressing the issue of homelessness, which he plans to “establish right out of the gate.”
That will include a plan to put “structure” around community volunteers providing mutual aid for the unhoused, as well as tapping into resources outside of city government.
“We’re not using our most important assets and those would be the people of this great city and many of the philanthropic dollars in this great city,” he said.
You can listen to the full interview with Harrell above, or at this link.
Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.