Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell was sworn in as acting Mayor on Wednesday, just ahead of Mayor Ed Murray’s effective resignation.
Per city charter, Harrell has five days to decide whether he wants to serve the remainder of the mayor's term. If he declines, council would select another member to be Mayor.
"I do put the team first, in this sense it’s the city that’s first," Harrell said. "It has nothing to do with what I want. I don’t want to swivel in a chair. It’s the needs of the city. That’s going to be the most important factor that I decide before I make my decision Friday."
Harrell said he's prioritizing the establishment of a smooth and timely transition, and he's told the council to be prepared to take action on Monday.
Harrell would have to give up his seat if he accepts the job, according to the city clerk. First elected to Seattle City Council in 2007, Harrell has more than two years left on his current term.
While he didn't give any indication which way he would land, Harrell joked that his wife and best friend would make the decision first, and then he would decide.
If Harrell passes on the role, there's talk Councilmember Tim Burgess could be a likely candidate to serve as acting mayor since he's retiring at the end of his term.
"I really want to honor Bruce's decision-making process and let him come to that decision on his own," said Burgess on Tuesday, declining to say whether he's interested in the job.
In another scenario, Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez, who is running for re-election, could fill the mayoral term and regain her council seat next year if she wins her race this November.
Regardless of who fills the role, there will then be a vacancy on the council to fill with a fair amount of city business to complete by the end of the year from arena negotiations to Seattle's budget.
As acting mayor, Harrell said his biggest priority would be the budget, which he wants presented on September 25. Harrell indicated he would either be the one presenting it or the one receiving it.
"I don't think the governing of the city has been adversely impacted up until this point," said Burgess. "Council President Harrell put out a statement today and talked about the transition and talked about the care that we will take governing the city and doing the city's business and making sure that we stay focused on what's important and the delivery of city services, and we will continue to do that."
Five different men have now come forward claiming they were sexually abused by Murray in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
“While the allegations against me are not true, it is important that my personal issues do not affect the ability of our city government to conduct the public’s business," Murray said in a statement Tuesday.
Murray also indicated Director of Operations Fred Podesta is leading transition efforts, a process that actually started weeks ago, according to his office.
"Now is not the time for division or for taking sides—for me it’s the time for healing," Harrell said.
Murray resigned effective Wednesday at 5 p.m., and Harrell was sworn in as acting mayor.
Harrell has five days to decide whether he wants to accept the job through the end of Murray’s term. If he declines, the council would vote on designating another member as early as next Monday during their full council meeting.
Related: Succession timeline in event of mayoral vacancy via Seattle City Council
When a councilmember officially accepts the job, a 20-day clock starts on filling the councilmember’s vacancy. An all-call for candidates would go out, and potential candidates would submit their resumes and undergo vetting, according to city staffers.
A smaller group of candidates would be interviewed during a public meeting. Then, the eight remaining councilmembers would vote on who gets that seat.
Election day for mayoral race is November 7, and the election results will be certified on November 28. The newly elected mayor is sworn in shortly after.