Yesterday, Kshama Sawant became the second Seattle City Council member to suggest Mayor Ed Murray should resign in the wake of ongoing allegations of sexual abuse. Joining Council Member Lorena González, who said last month Murray should "consider" resigning, Sawant wrote on Slog that Murray has "fundamentally failed to deal with the accusations of sexual abuse in a responsible manner required and deserved by the people of this city, as well as sexual assault survivors everywhere." He should resign, Sawant wrote, and if he doesn't, the council should consider impeachment.
A few hours later, a group of survivors delivered a letter urging the same. "It is not a time for politics as usual," the group wrote.
But it looks like "politics as usual" is exactly what will dominate the remaining five months of Murray's term. Council members have not yet created the "succession plan" or joint transition committee they promised, and a majority of council members remain unwilling to call for Murray's resignation or impeachment.
In April, the Seattle Times broke the news of allegations from three men that Murray sexually abused them in the 1980s, when they were teenagers and Murray was in his 30s. One of the men, Delvonn Heckard, filed a child sex abuse lawsuit, which he has since dropped, and a fourth man came forward in May. Another of the four men, Jeff Simpson, had been Murray's foster child in Portland in the 1980s. The Times recently uncovered documents showing that a Child Protective Services investigator in 1984 found Murray had abused Simpson and should "under no circumstances" be a foster parent again. Murray did not face criminal charges. He has denied the allegations.
Late last month, after González suggested Murray resign or face impeachment, her colleagues showed little interest in the idea. Council President Bruce Harrell told reporters: "I would ask that I don’t want to be judged for anything 33 years ago." Council Members Harrell, Sally Bagshaw, Debora Juarez, and Tim Burgess also expressed skepticism about impeachment.
Several council members still haven't said much. Asked whether the mayor should resign and, if he doesn't, whether the council should impeach him, Council Members Mike O'Brien, Lisa Herbold, and Rob Johnson did not respond to The Stranger's request for comment. (O'Brien is out of town.)
In lieu of impeachment, González and Harrell did promise two actions: to create a "succession plan" to outline what would happen if Murray left office early (either voluntarily or involuntarily) and a joint city council/mayoral committee to oversee the transition between Murray and whoever the next mayor is. So far, they've done neither.
A legislative aide to Harrell, who is responsible for the memo that will outline the succession plan and for the memo that would create the joint committee, told me yesterday Harrell is still "in the process of finalizing" the succession plan and it may be available today. (Harrell initially promised the succession plan would be public by the middle of last week.) He would not comment on the joint committee. González's office directed my questions to Harrell.
In the grand scheme of things, neither of these documents matter all that much. The city charter outlines the succession process. It takes two-thirds of the council to impeach Murray; if the mayor resigns, Harrell or another council member becomes mayor. But the lack of action indicates the council's intention: to allow the rest of Murray's term—and the transition to the next administration—to play out as if nothing has happened.