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Acting Seattle Mayor will not finish out Ed Murray's term

Per City Charter, Harrell has five days to decide whether he wants to remain mayor and give up his seat on city council. His current term has more than two years left.
Bruce Harrell.

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell says he will not serve the rest of Ed Murray’s term.

"While I have a passion for excellence and boldness and a heck of a lot of energy, I have decided to decline the position of mayor for the remainder of this term and return to the City Council and representing District 2," Harrell said at a news conference.

As a long-time resident of the Mount Baker neighborhood, Harrell said he was elected to serve District 2, and he would continue to do so.

"It is truly one of the most diverse and colorful communities in this city," Harrell said.

As Council President, Harrell was sworn in as the city’s 54th mayor on Wednesday, the hour Murray’s resignation took effect.

Per City Charter, Harrell had five days to decide whether he wanted to remain mayor and give up his seat on the city council. His current term has more than two years left.

Although he only served as mayor for two days, Harrell took action. He passed four executive orders to look at alternatives to the Youth Detention Center, to strengthen business retention, to assess potential risks in the city's management of data, and to increase trash removal.

Executive Order 2017-05 on Data Management
Executive Order 2017-06 on Business Retention
Executive Order 201-07 to Increase Trash Removal
Executive Order 2017-08 on the Youth Detention Center

Harrell has asked the council to be prepared to take a vote on Monday to designate another member to serve as interim mayor.

While councilmembers have not commented on their interest, there’s speculation Councilmember Tim Burgess would be a likely candidate since he’s retiring at the end of the year.

Once a councilmember takes over as mayor, the council must elect someone to take over that councilmember's position.

That could happen two different ways, according to Council President Pro Tem Lorena Gonzalez's office.

At the next full council meeting on Monday, September 18, a councilmember could nominate an eligible person to fill the position. If the majority of councilmembers vote for the nominee, that person would fill the position once they have taken the oath of office.

In another scenario, the council could take 20 days to accept resumes, vet potential candidates, and then vote, as outlined by then-Council President Harrell in a succession plan memo last month.

Gonzalez said in a statement that she intends for the council to elect a councilmember to be mayor on Monday. If they do not select an interim mayor, the council will meet and vote daily until a selection is made.

“What Seattle needs most now is continuity, decisive action and swift resolution of these transition issues for the benefit of Seattle residents," Gonzalez said in a statement. "This Council is ready to fulfill that need.”

Regardless of what happens next, Seattle’s newly elected mayor will take over once election results are certified on November 28.

Both mayoral candidates, Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon, met with Mayor Harrell on Friday morning to discuss the transition ahead, since the winner will have to take office a little more than a month earlier than expected.

“I've already started meeting with current and former city staff and stakeholders to think about governance structure," Moon told reporters on Friday. "To think about how to step up a mayor's office that's connected to departmental leadership and city council, set up clear decision making processes, so we all know how we're going to operate together."

"It’s going to be a quicker transition than anyone expected," said Durkan. “I think it's very good that both of us came in,” she said of the meeting. “We will get briefed equally; we will be thinking about that. We'll probably set up something separate from the campaign, because I don't want to get distracted or diverted, but at the same time, we need to make sure that the first day we become mayor, we can make impact.”

Harrell said that both Moon and Durkan are capable leaders.

"I am confident we are going to be in good hands next year," he said.

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