Bruce Harrell, president of the Seattle City Council, has been mayor for two days.
On Friday, he announced he would not stay on as mayor for two more months. Doing so would mean giving up his council seat.
Harrell became the mayor by default; former Mayor Ed Murray had resigned the day before after a fifth man, his cousin, accused him of abusing him as a child.
“I did not see this job as being a caretaker and the issues facing this city are bigger than me,” Harrell said. “I’ve decided to decline the position of mayor and continue representing District 2.”
Harrell has asked the City Council to elect another council member as mayor on Monday afternoon.
That council member would be mayor until November, after the general election. That's when either Cary Moon or Jenny Durkan will be elected.
Per the city charter, the interim mayor must be a council member.
Tim Burgess and Lorena Gonzalez are the only two council members who could take the job without losing their seat. Burgess is retiring and Gonzalez could leave her seat, be mayor for a couple of months, and then win her seat back in the November runoff for which she’s already on the ballot. She is the favorite in that race.
If the Council can’t decide who to promote, they would have to keep talking through it. If they don’t sort this out in 20 days, they would have to show up every business day after to vote or continue discussing.
Harrell said he met with Moon and Durkan on Friday morning to discuss the transition in November.
At the end of his prepared remarks, Harrell referred to survivors of sexual abuse, many of whom have spoken out about how the accusations against Murray were upsetting to them personally.
Harrell said, “A very close person to my wife and I, someone I call my sister, she said, ‘Bruce — she didn’t call me Mayor Harrell by the way — I heard you the other day. As a victim of abuse, I needed to hear more.’
“She said she believed in me, but she needs me to understand what the allegations against the mayor brought out in her. She believed the city wanted to know that. So too the survivors.
“It was your voice that changed the history of the city. It was your voice that changed its course and this direction.
He continued, “To my sister out there, I hear you. And all the other survivors, I hear you.”
A departing council member means the Council will be a member short. That means they will need to elect a new member. They could do that on Monday as well — or take 20 days figuring out who to put in the position.