Bruce Harrell declines to remain Seattle mayor

Sep 15, 2017, 4:48 PM | Updated: 5:48 pm
Bruce Harrell...
Bruce Harrell announced he will not remain Seattle mayor, and will continue as a council member on Sept. 15, 2017. .(Seattle Channel)
(Seattle Channel)

Bruce Harrell will not remain Seattle’s mayor in the wake of Ed Murray’s resignation.

“While I have a passion for excellence and boldness and heck of a lot of energy, I have decided to decline the position of mayor for the remainder of this term and will return to the city council and continue representing District 2,” Harrell said Friday.

“It may sound a little cheesy and corny — I don’t care — I care about this city,” he said. “There are issues on the council that require my leadership. There are issues with District 2 that need me. That’s my home. It would make sense for me to put my energy in another position.”

RELATED: Harrell lays out Seattle’s priorities while in mayoral limbo

Harrell announced Friday that he is declining the position he was sworn into two days prior. As the city council president, Harrell was next in line to take on the mayoral position after Murray stepped down. Now the council will select another colleague to take on the job until the next mayor is elected in November. That decision will likely come at its meeting on Monday, Sept. 18.

Whoever is elected will step into office early; as soon as the election is verified.

“I met with Miss Moon and Miss Durkan this morning and with members of our transition team to make it welcoming for both candidates when one is elected,” Harrell said.

Before closing, Harrell wanted to make one clarification and speak to the controversy around Ed Murray. Murray left the office of the mayor after a fifth allegation he sexually abused minors in the ’80s and ’90s.

“A very close person to my wife and I who lives in our district, who we call sister, told me ‘I believe with love and respect, Bruce’ — she didn’t call me Mayor Harrell — ‘Bruce, I heard you the other day. As a victim of abuse I needed to hear more, I wanted to hear more.’ … She needs to feel that I understood what the allegations against our mayor brought out in her.”

“So to the survivors, I hear you,” he said. “It was your voice that changed the history of this city. It was your voice that changed its course and direction. It was your voice that prompted me to ask an entire city to heal. I’ve learned in life that the truth always prevails over falsity and that justice and karma are universal laws of life.”

Harrell’s executive orders

While Harrell is only mayor briefly, he also announced that he signed four executive orders in his two days on the job.

Executive order 201706: Directs the Seattle Office of Economic Development to respond to Amazon’s recent request for proposal for a new city to place a second headquarters. It directs city staff to work with the area’s other big employers, such as the University of Washington, to help with the city’s response.

“By October 19 we will have our response,” Harrell said. “I’ve met with Amazon’s executives and I’ve chatted with Gov. Inslee … quite candidly, if there are to be an additional 50,000 jobs from warehouse workers to software engineers, they should be for our residents.”

Executive order 201708: Directs the city to find various locations for smaller, normalized environments that are an alternative to a planned county youth jail. It shifts the city’s policy from incarcerating youth criminals to utilizing restorative justice.

“As many of you know the county is en route to build a $210 million facility on 14th Avenue and East Alder Street,” Harrell said. “… if we knew in 2012 what we know now about mass incarceration, racial disparities in our judicial system, if we knew about the ‘War on Drugs’ and how it devastates communities of color, and the abuses of prosecutorial discretion and historical and institutional racism, would we consider a different approach? As mayor I would say yes.”

King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski was present and expanded upon what the order does.

“It aims at a goal of zero youth detention and providing alternatives to our judicial system than the default of locking our kids up,” Dembowski said. “Which we know leads, 80 percent of the time, to recidivism.”

Executive order 201707: Directs Seattle Public Utilities to find the 10 worst areas in the city filled with litter and waste and clean them up. Harrell said that last year the city hauled away 6 million pounds — 333 garbage trucks worth — of litter and illegally dumped waste and that “we have to do better.”

“Our city has become filthy,” Harrell said. “I was cautioned not to use that word. And I’m sure it will be a sound bite … but as an elected official I’m embarrassed driving and walking around areas of this city.”

Executive order 201705: Directs the city’s information technology department to look into how Seattle could be vulnerable to hacking and cyber attacks. Harrell pointed to recent high profile hacking incidents, and said Seattle should be prepared.

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Bruce Harrell declines to remain Seattle mayor