Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell announces seven new hires for leadership team

Dec 29, 2021, 12:09 PM

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Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Seattle Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell announced seven new members of his leadership team Wednesday.

Seattle mayor-elect announces new administration, including niece

Among them is Derrick Wheeler-Smith, who is the current director of King County Zero Youth Detention. Wheeler-Smith will join the Harrell administration as interim director of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights. One of Harrell’s priorities for Wheeler-Smith will be implementing the city’s Race and Social Justice Initiative.

Kendee Yamaguchi, a former City employee who currently serves as executive director for Snohomish County, has been hired as deputy mayor of external affairs.

Gael Tarleton, a former state legislator and port commissioner, will serve as the interim director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations.

DeVitta Briscoe, a leader on police accountability whose brother Che Taylor was shot and killed by Seattle police in 2016, was named by Harrell as the the gun violence prevention liaison. Briscoe is a long-time advocate for gun violence intervention efforts for young people after losing her own son to gun violence in 2010.

Also joining the team is Matt Chan, who will serve as special advisor for public engagement; Jennifer Samuels as chief of staff; and Jeremy Racca as legal counsel.

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“Over the past several months, I have heard – in transition meetings and on the street, with city leaders and with everyday neighbors – calls for a representative and responsive City government. My executive team and cabinet are being built with that priority front of mind,” Harrell said in a written statement. “I’m excited by the team of leaders we’ve convened to effectively move Seattle forward. In my administration, you’ll see our staff truly engage with the community – visible and accessible to all, empowered to take action, and committed to seeking the solutions that drive positive change.”

Learn more about Mayor-elect Harrell, his team, and his transition structure here.

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.

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Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell announces seven new hires for leadership team