SEATTLE — On Thursday, Lorena Gonzalez and Bruce Harrell will debate again, albeit after a change in tone in the Seattle mayor’s race.
Gonzalez has now been forced to apologize and pull her ad that attacks Harrell’s record. The ad featured a sexual assault victim who said it was "horrifying" that Harrell defended former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.
But the spot lacked full context and was quickly labeled by Harrell and his supporters as racist.
Back in 2017, Harrell was Seattle City Council president when Murray was accused of decades-old assaults on boys. Gonzalez was the first to call for Murray’s removal, but the rest of the council was more cautious, including Harrell.
Then Councilmember Sally Bagshaw even said, “I hope we can avoid grandstanding on this.
Councilmember Debora Juarez said at the time she was a victim and survivor of sexual assault, and, “Some people are quick to be a judge and jury and that’s not why we’re here.”
The ad also took aim at Harrell’s legal advice to a Central District organization and a claim he attempted to discredit an accuser. Elma Horton, who is on the board of that organization, came out to say, “it’s not true, it’s not right, and it’s disgraceful.”
In fact, after the ad aired, hundreds of leaders in the African American and Asian communities suggested the ad played up racial fear mongering tactics. The woman featured in the ad is white. Harrell’s father is African American, his mother is Japanese American.
The outcry led Gonzalez, who had previously doubled down on the allegations, to pull the ad on Monday while delivering a rather somber statement to the camera: “I am sorry we did not work harder to center the voice of a sexual assault survivor from our community of color."
It is likely both candidates will be ready to discuss the issue when they meet up for their final televised debate on Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. on KONG.