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Seattle mayor Bruce Harrell delivers his second State of City address

The mayor discussed economic recovery, the housing crisis, public safety and police reform.

SEATTLE — Mayor Bruce Harrell delivered his 2023 State of the City speech on Tuesday afternoon, which outlined his vision for the city and priorities for his second year in office.

The mayor discussed economic recovery, the housing crisis, public safety and police reform -- all issues he campaigned on two years ago.

He pointed out that the Space Needle, the symbol of Seattle, was built in about a year and said that kind of bold vision is needed now to combat the city's challenges, like a 4% rise in crime last year and the impact of drugs, like fentanyl.

"Last year, 590 people died on our streets from a drug overdose. That's 590 people too many," Harrell said. "We're not afraid to enforce the law and make arrests when people cause damage to the fabric of our neighborhoods."

He said another major issue is homelessness.

"More unhoused people died outside in King County in 2022 than before. That is simply heartbreaking," Harrell said. "Change begins with housing, with shelter, and with services. We must bring people indoors."

The overall theme of the address was hope.

"The future of Seattle is the one that we are building today. The city we want to see the city of the future," Harrell said. 

Harrell said in an exclusive interview with KING 5's Jake Whittenberg and Mimi Jung last month that he is optimistic about the direction the city is headed. 

Entering his second year in office, Harrell insisted he's making headway in the effort to hire more police officers and tamp down on crime in the city where he was raised.

Harrell's goal is for the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to reach 1,400 officers. According to data from the city, Seattle had 1,315 officers in 2017, the highest total it has had in the last seven years. As it stands, Harrell said in July 2022 that the department's staffing was at "crisis levels."

The decline in officers comes as Seattle's violent crime rate reached a 15-year high in 2022, surpassing the record set in 2021, according to a yearly crime report published on Feb. 7.

Harrell replaced Jenny Durkan as mayor after she decided not to seek re-election. He took office on Jan. 1, 2022. 

During his campaign, Harrell promised police reform and police funding while setting a goal of getting 911 response times down to seven minutes.

Before his role as mayor, Harrell served three terms on Seattle City Council, including as president for his last three years on the council.

Watch Harrell's full 2023 State of the City address here: 

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