Four former mayors of Seattle released a letter Monday morning saying Mayor Ed Murray should not resign amid multiple child sexual abuse allegations that have already ended his re-election campaign. Calls for Murray to step down amplified last week after the Seattle Times published a story revealing that an Oregon child welfare investigator in 1984 deemed one of those allegations, made by Murray’s former foster child, to be credible.
The letter, emailed to reporters from former mayor Charles Royer (in office from 1978 to 1990), was also signed by Wes Uhlman (served 1970 to 1978), Norman Rice (1990 to 1998) and Greg Nickels (2002 to 2010). Besides Mike McGinn, who Murray defeated 2013 and is currently running for reelection, the signees represent all the living former mayors of Seattle. The letter reads:
We have been saddened by the recent allegations against Mayor Murray. He made the honorable, but personally painful decision to drop out of his re- election campaign, a decision that underscores his commitment to Seattle.
We firmly believe Mayor Murray should continue to lead the city through the remainder of his term. A transition merely months before electing a new mayor would be messy and time consuming, and would present serious challenges to the day-to-day operations of the city. As former mayors, we know transitions are long, difficult, and important processes, which is why Mayor Murray and his team have already begun the job of preparing for the new mayor to be sworn in next year.
We should now thank the mayor for his service to our city and look forward to him coming to work every day on behalf of the people of Seattle throughout the remainder of his term and an orderly transition.
UPDATE: In an interview with The Stranger, former Mayor Royer says the letter originated from a conversation he had with Murray the day the Times' published its revelations about the Oregon child sex abuse investigation. Murray, who sometimes leans on Royer for advice, called the former mayor to talk about next steps. Royer, who advised against resigning, offered to draft a letter in support of Murray and run it by the three other mayors at a public forum last Thursday at the Seattle Athenaeum.
An original version of the letter highlighted Murray's accomplishments during his tenure as mayor, but those segments were removed during the editing process to focus more on the difficulty of transitioning from one administration to the next.
"He knows the biggest contribution to the city could be to oversee a transition that could get the new mayor off to a good start," Royer, who endorsed Murray for mayor, says.
When asked whether he believes the allegations against Murray, Royer says he does not. "If you don’t know the truth, you have to believe your friends, I guess," he says. "Then you have to look at the facts. The facts just aren’t very clear."
Of the six major candidates for mayor, four have called for him to step down. McGinn and Cary Moon called for Murray's resignation when the Times' first broke the allegations from three men who say Murray sexually abused them when they were children. Jessyn Farrell and Nikkita Oliver called for Murray to step down last week after the Times' revelation of the child welfare investigation. Jenny Durkan and Bob Hasegawa have not called for Murray to resign.