GEE AND URSULA

Harrell: Seattle ‘has let people down’ but working together creates ‘progress’

May 11, 2023, 1:04 PM | Updated: 1:42 pm

Image: Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell is seen in 2023....

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell is seen in 2023. (Photo: Mat Hayward, Getty Images)

(Photo: Mat Hayward, Getty Images)

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s “Day of Service” to encourage the public to help with community projects to clean up the city returns on May 20.

The initiative is part of the mayor’s “One Seattle” program and includes graffiti removal projects, street cleaning, weeding, and decorating. There are more than 3,000 shifts to choose from between 110 different events around the city.

Seattle mayor announces downtown revitalization plan to combat fentanyl

Mayor Harrell joined The Gee and Ursula Show to discuss the event and why he thinks it’s important that people invest their time into the community.

“This is where we prove to the world and prove to ourselves that we truly love this city,” Harrell said. “We love the people in it, we will abate graffiti, we will pick up litter, we will give food to people who are hungry, we will do a variety of things. And I continue to believe in the goodness of our people. So this gives us an opportunity to virtually hold hands and help us move the needle in terms of improving our city.”

The project comes as Mayor Harrell promised to revitalize the downtown district of the city, which has seen rising crime rates, low foot traffic, and businesses shut down since the COVID-19 pandemic.

A large part of the plan is to combat rising drug use and overdose, particularly involving fentanyl. Fentanyl was responsible for the deaths of 708 people in King County, an average of 1.94 a day in 2022. Compared to that, as of March 15, 172 people in King County died of an overdose involving fentanyl, an average of 2.32 a day.

“The city has let people down, but I know for a fact because I’m walking around downtown nearly every day that people see the progress, they see the tangible results of an administration sitting around taking action to improve conditions,” Harrell said.

Seattle mayor brings back volunteer day after successful debut

Washington could soon be without a statewide drug possession law. The current state law, passed as a stopgap after the Blake decision, expires in July and classifies drug possession as a misdemeanor on the third arrest. There is a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines after a third arrest.

Harrell said that while Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison introduced legislation to address the issue on a city level, he is confident that the state Legislature will pass legislation in an upcoming special session.

“I have had discussions with the governor and state legislators directly, I’m confident they will address the Blake decision. And I do not want a piecemeal approach,” Harrell said. “I do not need renegade legislators trying to figure out on a onesie-twosie basis what the state should look like. We elected our state leaders to lead and so we’ll see what comes out of the Blake decision. If that legislative process has not come out with a solution that works for Seattle, we will examine it and we will move forward and adjust.”

The “Day of Service” will also be a part of the beautification effort going into attracting people back to downtown.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) estimated approximately 500 street-level businesses closed against roughly 300 new businesses opening in downtown Seattle.

Amazon also mandated that their employees start to return to the company’s office in Belltown, a move which Seattle business leaders and politicians have stated they hope will help kickstart the downtown recovery.

Ursula questioned how these mandates to get people back into the offices will affect climate change, as more people are expected to drive into the city when they were previously able to work from home.

Seattle residents push for a car-less Pike Place Market

​Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from cars, including those that commute to work, account for about 29% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest contributor of U.S. GHG emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Harrell said that while people returning to downtown might increase carbon dioxide emissions, there are other options, like public transit, that he encourages people to use.

“Quite candidly, we are leaders in climate change and our transportation infrastructure that we’ve developed, particularly in the last couple of years, leading with safety first, trying to do everything we can to build a safe system,” Harrell said. “And I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. So we want people to ride transit, we want people to use light rail. We have a good clean system, so we’re encouraging people to still come and it doesn’t defeat the work we’re doing and climate transportation.”

You can register for different projects around the city here.

Listen to Mayor Harrell’s full interview here:


Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Gee and Ursula Show

Gee and Ursula

pierce county pride...

Frank Sumrall

Pierce Co. Council member to avoid chambers while Pride Flag is present

Pierce County Councilmember Amy Cruver says she will refuse to sit in the county's council chambers while a pride flag flies overhead.

10 days ago

...

MyNorthwest Video

Video: GEE and Baby GEE

A very special guest joined the Gee and Ursula Show: Gee Jr.! It’s fair to say that like father, like son. Watch Gee Jr. answer questions about his dad, life, and more! Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show every weekday at 9am on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM Listen to KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM or […]

16 days ago

Image: From left, Heather Bosch, Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin of KIRO Newsradio share some laughs du...

Steve Coogan

Peace out! Malfunction on ‘Gee and Ursula’ leads to lots of laughs

Sometimes, equipment malfunctions on shows like "Gee and Ursula" can lead to a few minutes of chaos and a fun, unique moment.

27 days ago

newcastle mayor...

Frank Sumrall

Gee Scott: Newcastle mayor’s comments ‘are awful, what he represents is awful’

Newcastle Mayor Robert Clark fired off a plethora of controversial comments about the local LGBTQ+ community and reparations during a city council meeting.

29 days ago

seattle spd lawsuit...

Ursula Reutin

Ursula: Being gay has no bearing on allegations against former SPD Chief Diaz

In his first interview since he stepped down as the city's top cop, former SPD Chief Adrian Diaz publicly came out as gay.

1 month ago

rahr police...

Frank Sumrall

Interim SPD Chief Rahr on police-city relations: ‘Can we please hit the reset button?’

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell appointed Sue Rahr as the city's interim police chief after removing Adrian Diaz from the role due to accumulating allegations.

1 month ago

Harrell: Seattle ‘has let people down’ but working together creates ‘progress’