Council President Bruce Harrell previously said it wasn't the council's job to "judge anyone for something that happened 33 years ago." Now apparently, he believes: "These accusations are unspeakable and require the utmost attention from our legal and social service system no matter how long ago they might have occurred."
He and other Seattle City Council members are now reacting to the news that Mayor Ed Murray will resign from office after a fifth man, his cousin, publicly accused him of sexual abuse.
Council Member Kshama Sawant, who called on Murray to resign in July, used her statement today to call for changes to the city budget, including "fully funding vitally needed social services, such as shelters for domestic violence survivors and programs for LGBTQ youth."
Council Member Tim Burgess, who also did not call on Murray to resign, said only, "I agree with the mayor’s decision to resign."
See council members' full statements below. We'll add more as they come in.
I join the working people and community members of Seattle who are understandably relieved at Mayor Ed Murray’s resignation. I had made clear in my July 31 Editorial that while no one should be tried in the court of public opinion, Murray had failed as an elected leader by repeatedly attacking the character of his accusers, and shifting the focus to their troubled backgrounds to suggest they cannot be trusted.
I commend all individuals and organizations - including Danni Askini of the Gender Justice League, the City of Seattle’s LGBTQ Commission and Human Rights Commission, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), and Councilmember Gonzalez - who showed courage and leadership in calling on Murray to resign. Unfortunately, the majority of the City Council failed to show any such leadership.
As we head into the 2018 City budget discussions, the City Council has another opportunity to stand in solidarity with sexual violence survivors. Councilmembers need to do everything in our power to support survivors and adopt social policies that can help reduce sexual assault, molestation, and rape, which tragically occur all too often in our city and society. This includes fully funding vitally needed social services, such as shelters for domestic violence survivors and programs for LGBTQ youth. But helping sexual assault survivors also includes addressing the root causes of abuse: poverty, social isolation, and the immense power disparities that plague this highly unequal and deeply oppressive capitalist society.
A business-as-usual budget that yet again favors big developers, big corporations, and a bloated police department, while falling short in funding human services, would be totally unacceptable. The people of Seattle should demand that whoever is Mayor this fall will work instead to ensure the budget itself is a moral document which reflects the real priorities and needs of the people of Seattle, especially its most vulnerable.
Speaking to reporters today, Sawant said she is not interested in becoming mayor.
First and foremost, my heart goes out to survivors and their families who have been affected by sexual abuse and the re-traumatization these allegations have caused. These accusations are unspeakable and require the utmost attention from our legal and social service system no matter how long ago they might have occurred.
The City must focus on governance and day-to-day business without distraction. I have a plan in place for a seamless transition in order for City operations to continue at the highest standard. Seattleites deserve a government that holds their full confidence and trust.
The City Charter outlines the next steps in terms of succession planning and as outlined in my memo to City Councilmembers.
Charter Art. XIX, § 6.B provides in part: ‘The President of the City Council shall become Mayor; provided, that said President may within five days of such vacancy decline the office of Mayor, in which event the City Council shall select one of its members to be Mayor in the manner provided for filling vacancies in other elective offices.’
Council will have until Monday, September 18, 5:00 p.m. if a public vote is required to fill the Office of Mayor vacancy.
I intend to make an announcement within the five days on my intentions and will talk to my family, my colleagues on the Seattle City Council, and trusted members of our city on this decision with the understanding that the City and continuity of governance comes before all other factors.
Burgess told Publicola the fifth allegation was significant because it was a family member:
CM Burgess on why 5th accuser was final straw: accumulation, & "now we have a family member who's stepping up...It just made it unbearable"
— Hayat Norimine (@HayatNorimine) September 12, 2017