SEATTLE — Former Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell has won the race for Seattle mayor over current council President Lorena González.
Harrell holds his lead with 59% of the vote following a third ballot count on Nov. 4. González has 41% of the vote.
González conceded the race to Harrell on Thursday saying, "With today’s ballot drop, it’s clear that Bruce Harrell will be the next Mayor of Seattle."
González said she called Harrell to congratulate him on his win and wished him luck "in his efforts to make progress on the challenges Seattle faces." She also thanked her supporters and said she was looking forward to resting, finishing her sixth year on the city council and "writing the next chapter of my public service."
Harrell will replace Mayor Jenny Durkan, who chose not to seek re-election and serve a four-year term. The mayor of Seattle is responsible for ensuring the laws of the city are enforced while directing and controlling city government.
KING 5 Political Analyst Scott McClellan said looking at the big picture, the voters appear to want a mayor who moves away from the "activist, ideological" approach.
KING 5 Political Analyst Ron Sims said the attack ad against Harrell was a "game-changer with a lot of people." The ad, which González pulled after criticism, included a sexual assault victim who said it was "horrifying" that Harrell defended former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. Harrell and his supporters called it racist.
McClellan said this could be a "turning-point election" for Seattle, given the pandemic, protests and state of downtown.
González says the COVID-19 pandemic "picked the scab" off issues that existed before the city went into lockdown.
Homelessness and housing affordability are among her top issues. We "should all be frustrated" about the state of the homeless crises, she told KING 5 in a recent interview. She wants the city to be at a point where people can be re-housed immediately so they aren't living in public spaces.
"Sweeping the problem under a rug," she said, is "not a solution."
González supported reducing the Seattle Police Department's budget. In September 2020, she said that divestment from a broken policing model was not just the right thing to do, it was the necessary course of action. Despite reducing the department's funding, she said the police chief has the resources he needs to hire the officers he indicated he would hire.
She said she wanted to be mayor to put her years of experience working on behalf of the people of Seattle to work on the city's toughest issues.
Harrell is the former Seattle City Council president and was once the city's mayor for five days. But why does he want to return to city politics?
"I got a taste of it," he said during a recent interview of being mayor.
The next mayor will help redefine the city and what it will be in the future, he said. Right now, there is finger-pointing, and morale in City Hall is low, he said.
"And we can change that. We will change that," he said.
When he announced he was running for mayor, Harrell said he would change the narrative of policing and create a police department the city could be proud of. While continuing to address issues of bias, Harrell wants a police department that is responsive to community needs.
The city needs to have a stronger sense of urgency when it comes to the homelessness crisis, he said. That means getting people into transitional housing and getting people case management. At the same time, he said people who want public spaces cleaned up should not be demonized.
"I don't see that as a thin line," he said. "I don't understand how people can fight for the status quo."
Outgoing Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan shared the following statement Thursday,
“I’ve extended my sincere congratulations to Mayor-Elect Bruce Harrell. I’ve known Bruce for over 30 years, and I know as Mayor he will work hard for the people of Seattle. Voters showed their commitment to a just and hopeful future for all Seattle residents. I know Bruce wants every family to thrive in Seattle. He will bring people together to tackle the tough challenges we face on COVID-19, homelessness, public safety, and climate change. I hope all of Seattle joins to support him in these critical times.
Over the last 20 months, Seattle has faced the greatest challenges of our history, and our next Mayor will need to be prepared to tackle the current and unforeseen challenges on January 1, 2022. In recent months, our office has worked on a detailed transition plan for the next Mayor and will work closely together with the Mayor-Elect towards a seamless transition for the businesses and residents of this great city and for our 12,000 incredible city employees. We will make sure Bruce can successfully begin this important transition now.
We cannot afford to take our foot off the gas, and in these final months, I’ll continue our work for Seattle by making new investments in affordable housing, addressing the City’s largest encampments by opening new 24/7 shelter, continuing to build a balanced and effective approach to public safety, finalizing the 2022 budget, and providing boosters and vaccinations for our kids. This critical transition will help ensure that we keep the West Seattle bridge repair on track, implement our climate actions, deliver on our investments in BIPOC communities, and support our small businesses and neighborhoods in recovery.
I want to thank Council President Lorena González for her years of work for the city and her family for the sacrifices they have made. As a civil rights lawyer, Lorena worked hard to ensure a more just society and continued that work as a strong voice on the City Council. I look forward to working with her these next two months in tackling the challenges we face and on keeping Seattle on a path to a full and equitable recovery. I know the Council President will further her work for justice and the public good, and I look forward to seeing what she will do next to continue to serve Seattle communities."