The Seattle Human Rights Commission issued a terse statement on Tuesday afternoon, urging Mayor Ed Murray to resign.
Murray has been accused by four men of sexual abuse when they were teenagers. One of those men, Delvonn Heckard, filed a lawsuit in April. The lawsuit has since been withdrawn so that Heckard could focus on his treatment.
Although Murray said he would not seek reelection, he has refused to step down.
The text of the letter from the commission was terse and to the point:
Dear Mayor Murray:
We write this letter in solidarity with the LGBTQ Commission and in support of their July 24, 2017, letter to you urging your resignation. We share and echo their deep concern.
We believe it is in the best interest of our city, its residents and its workers for you to resign immediately. We ask you to do so.
The Seattle Human Rights Commission
The city’s human rights commissioners are Seattle residents who have been appointed by the mayor or the city council. They are volunteers who work about 10 to 15 hours a month.
The commissioners started thinking about how to respond after an editorial written by Murray was published in The Stranger. In that editorial, Murray said that one of the alleged victims, Jeff Simpson, could not be trusted.
His extensive criminal history is very relevant. I would never suggest that those with criminal histories cannot be victims of abuse. Rather, his criminal history proves he cannot be trusted.
He has been convicted of numerous crimes of dishonesty, including identity theft, fraud, false emergency reporting and forgery, in addition to numerous convictions related to robbery, theft, unlawful use of weapons, delivery of controlled substances, criminal conspiracy and even attempted kidnapping.
The commission had a special meeting to discuss their response on Monday night. Their decision to call for the mayor's resignation was unanimous.
They have not put forward a spokesman, according to one commissioner, "out of concern for retaliation from the mayor's office." That's happened before, the commissioner said.
Politicians and city leaders have been divided on whether to ask Murray to resign. Two city council members — Kshama Sawant and Lorena Gonzalez — have asked the mayor to step down. The others have stayed mostly silent.
Councilmember Bruce Harrell told reporters he wouldn’t ask Murray to step down.
“The question is, is he doing his job? I haven’t heard any of you say he’s not doing his job every single day,” he said.
He added that Seattle residents, “did not ask us to judge anyone for something that happened 33 years ago or maybe didn’t happen. We just don’t know. And I would ask that I don’t want to be judged for anything 33 years ago … And I would challenge each of you to think about where you were 33 years ago. The question is are you doing your job today right now?”
Former Seattle Mayor Charlie Royer, speaking to KUOW’s Bill Radke on Tuesday, said he believes a smooth transition is crucial for the next mayoral administration.
“There are a lot of unmade beds in this city,” Royer said, listing off the budget and the waterfront as examples of big projects.
Royer appeared sympathetic to Murray.
Royer: “I don’t know how he comes to work every day, frankly, walking through those halls at city hall and getting down to work, but he’s doing it, and I admire him for that, regardless of what the case may be with regard to his guilt or innocence. It’s just not something I can deal with.”
Mary Dispenza, a former nun and survivor of sexual abuse, has called for Murray to step down. She and Murray have known each other since the 1980s.
When she learned of the abuse in April, she said she was “shocked, speechless and sad – at the prospect that they could be true.
“On the other hand, I’m surprised that I was shocked, because understanding the journey – and this is not meant to imply guilt – understanding the journeys of survivors in their younger years, it takes years and years and years until you are able to share your truth. You’d rather just put this aside. In my own life, I was 52 years old.”