Mayor Ed Murray is proposing a joint effort between his office and the city council to ensure a smooth transition of power for the next mayor of Seattle.
In his letter addressed to city councilmember Lorena Gonzalez dated last Friday, Murray proposed a “joint Mayor-Council transition coordination committee,” that would allow for the next mayor to be “up to speed” on policies, procedures and operations.
Murray also restated his intent to finish his term as mayor.
“Should the council agree, I am assigning my Chief of Staff Mike Fong and Director of Operations Fred Podesta to work with Council President Bruce Harrell on a framework for a joint transition committee,” Murray wrote in his letter.
Gonzalez released a statement endorsing the idea.
“Believing the Mayor has listened to my broader governance concerns in light of the allegations of abuse against him, I affirmed my support for the Mayor’s proposal to form a Joint Mayoral-Council transition coordination committee,” she said.
Gonzalez believes the committee can help prepare if the mayor ends up stepping down before his term is over. She also said the decision to stay in office rests solely with Murray, citing the city charter.
“It is my sincere hope that for the remaining months of his term our Mayor endeavor to refrain from using the court of public opinion to disparage his alleged victims of sexual abuse,” Gonzalez continued, “and to stop categorically attacking the credibility of caseworkers and institutions…”
Last week, Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez asked Murray to consider stepping down Monday after an Oregon investigation was published that found Murray sexually abused his foster care son.
Gonzalez said in a statement that she is “deeply concerned” about the mayor’s ability to lead after the documents were released.
“This situation is unprecedented in our city’s history,” Gonzalez said in last week’s statement. “We cannot pretend otherwise.”
Two groups are also taking sides on the issue. The Seattle LGBTQ Commission released a statement Monday asking Mayor Murray to step down.
"We perceive your attempt to dismiss these claims as a “politically motivated” monolithic issue of homophobia to be a maneuver that is divisive and damaging to our community. Claiming homophobic intent to shield yourself from accountability and erase the experiences of survivors of sexual abuse is silencing, manipulative, and morally repugnant," said the letter, written on the city of Seattle letterhead.
Four former mayors came out in favor of Murray finishing his term. Wes Uhlman, Charles Royer, Norman Rice and Greg Nickels wrote a joint letter saying they were saddened by the allegations but believe that Murray's decision to not run for re-election reaffirms his commitment to the city.
"A transition merely months before electing a new mayor would be messy and time-consuming, and would present serious challenges to the day-to-day operations of the city," the statement read. "As former mayors, we know transitions are long, difficult, and important processes, which is why Mayor Murray and his team have already begun the job of preparing for the new mayor to be sworn in next year.”