Kshama Sawant: ‘It's time Murray resigns' in wake of abuse allegations

By: KIRO 7 News Staff

Updated:

Socialist Seattle city councilwoman Kshama Sawant wrote in an editorial for The Stranger it is time for Mayor Ed Murray to resign.

The comcilwoman’s call comes amid newly found records that show an Oregon child-welfare investigator concluded Murray abused his foster son in the early 19080s. It’s the latest in months of allegations from four alleged sexual abuse victims. No criminal charges have been filed against Murray, who adamantly denies the claims.

>> Alleged victim Jeff Simpson is the man mentioned in the newly found records. Read about his allegations here. 

Murray is not seeking re-election, but he will not step down from office.

Sawant was the first person on the council to publicly share a statement on the allegations after council president Bruce Harrell wrote no one had the intention on commenting in early April, when one of the alleged victims filed a lawsuit against Murray.

>> Related: That alleged victim, Delvonn Heckard, later dropped the lawsuit, but now he filed a claim with the city seeking millions in damages. Read about that here.

Known for speaking at protests and leading progressive movements in Seattle, Sawant said at that time that the city was shaken by the allegations. While Sawant didn’t comment specifically on details of the lawsuit, she said she couldn’t remain silent on sexual abuse. 

She took a stronger stance on Monday in an editorial on Monday, saying it’s the city council’s duty to impeach Murray if he doesn’t resign.

Sawant was absent during last week’s briefing when councilwoman Lorena Gonzalez – who is also asking Murray to step down -- broached the topic during the full city council meeting. Council members cautiously discussed the process and limitations of mayoral impeachment.

>> Related: Could Mayor Murray be impeached? Skepticism expressed in council meeting

Harrell and council members Sally Bagshaw, Lisa Herbold and Debora Juarez issued a statement after that meeting.

They said that as the council may act as a court of impeachment, their powers are limited by the city charter. In the statement, the council wrote there’s “no proof that Murray has willfully violated his duties” as mayor, but the members also noted that “allegations of abuse must be taken seriously at all times.

>> Related: Several letters — between city government departments, council members, former city leaders, and the mayor — are being exchanged in the wake of the newly surfaced documents that believe Ed Murray abused a foster son in 1984. Read them here.

In her editorial, Sawant wrote that impeachment is not a statement of Murray’s guilt or innocence, but rather “a decision to put the burning needs of our city above the political interests and career of one person.”

Sawant’s stance is the latest in a string of resignation request that continue despite charter limitations; members of SNAP – the largest support group for adult survivors of child sex abuse – and the Seattle LGBTQ Commission are calling on Murray to leave.

But not everyone agrees that resignation or impeachment is in the best interest of the city.

Last week, four former mayors signed a letter that supported Murray finishing his term. The letter – signed by Wes Uhlman, Charles Royer, Norman Rice, and Greg Nickels – argues that a transition with just months before a new mayor is elected would make a mess of city operations.

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