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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 15, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 37
Ed out, Bruce Harrell in&at least temporarily
Section One
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Ed out, Bruce Harrell in&at least temporarily

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray resigned September 12 in the wake of the fifth accusation of sexual abuse of a minor, this time leveled by his cousin, Joseph Dyer, who said Murray forced him to have oral sex when Dyer was 13 and Murray was in his twenties.

Murray's office announced he would resign three hours after the Seattle Times broke Dyer's story. Murray was once thought to be a shoe-in for re-election, but his campaign began to unravel in April, when the Times published a story accusing the mayor of having molested three boys in the 1980s, one of whom was suing him.

A fourth accuser came forward in May, and Dyer surfaced only days ago.

On September 13, City Council President Bruce Harrell was sworn in as mayor, in accordance with the city charter.

Harrell was accompanied by several of his City Council colleagues, City Attorney Pete Holmes, and other officials at his inauguration, held in the City Hall conference room.

'I'm joined by many cabinet members, elected officials, friends, family,' Harrell said. 'And their presence should signal to the people of Seattle that our duties to be leaders and public servants, our duties transcend a person or office.'

According to the City Charter, Harrell now has five days in which to decide whether he wants to remain mayor until the November election, or step down and let the City Council elect another Council member as mayor.

If Harrell decides to remain as mayor, he'll serve until November 28, when the results of the November 7 mayoral election between Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon are certified.

If Harrell declines, he'll become mayor pro tem and the council will have 20 days to choose another of its members to serve into November, City Attorney Pete Holmes said.

'The overall logic of the charter is to make sure there's complete continuity,' Holmes said. 'There's no period of time without a mayor or a mayor pro tem.'

The catch is that whoever serves out the remainder of Murray's term can't return to their City Council seat, Holmes added. There would have to be a special election to fill the vacant seat.

Harrell promised to make a decision by 5 p.m. on September 15 on whether to serve as mayor or step down and call for the City Council to choose a new mayor.

The decision would have 'nothing to do with my personal agenda,' he said, but would depend on 'the needs of the city.'

One of the duties that would have been handled by Murray but will now devolve to the new mayor will be to send a new budget to the City Council. This would be 'our highest priority,' Harrell said.

Ironically Harrell ran for mayor against Murray in 2013 but was knocked out in the primary. He then endorsed Murray, the eventual winner, over incumbent Mike McGinn.

Political insiders speculated that Harrell would probably choose to remain on the City Council, while Councilmember Tim Burgess would be a logical choice for mayor through November. Burgess, after all, is retiring from the City Council and doesn't intend to keep his seat anyway.

Lorena González is also considered a possible candidate for short-term mayor, since she is running for re-election this year. She could step down from her seat to serve as mayor, and then be re-elected to the seat in the November election, Holmes said.

In November, either Jenny Durkan or Cary Moon will be elected mayor, becoming Seattle's first woman mayor since Bertha Knight Landes in 1926-1928.

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