Seattle council president Bruce Harrell becomes mayor – for now

by: KIRO 7 News Staff Updated:

Seattle City Council president Bruce Harrell was sworn in as mayor on Wednesday afternoon upon Ed Murray's resignation, and he has five days to decide whether to stay for the remainder of the term.

After nearly three and half years in office, Murray announced on Tuesday – amid sex abuse allegations from five accusers – that he would resign on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Read about the allegations in detail here.

According to Seattle City Charter, there can’t be a gap in leadership, and the council president had to be sworn in a few minutes before Murray officially stepped down from office.

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Harrell, a Seattle native with a legal career, being sworn in does not mean he will serve as interim mayor over the next few months. In a statement on Tuesday, Harrell didn’t reveal his intentions but said he would make a decision in five calendar – not business – days. 

>> Read 5 things to know about Harrell here

 “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,” he wrote. “[I] will talk to my family, my colleagues on the Seattle City Council, and trusted members of our city on this decision.”

There are two succession plans in place: one for if the council president accepts the position, and one for if he doesn’t. Read those plans here.

Harrell would have to vacate his council seat and his two year term to accept the mayor position. And in the event Harrell declines, the council would appoint someone else, possibly Councilman Tim Burgess or M. Lorena González.

Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess in January 2012. (Seattle Municipal Archives photo/Paul Joseph Brown)

Burgess ran for mayor previously and also served as council president last term. He is retiring this year, and thus does not risk losing his seat for the position. 

>> Read 5 things to know about Burgess here 

González, the first council member to publicly ask Murray to step down, serves one of the two citywide representatives. She would have to vacate her seat, but she would likely be re-elected back to her council position in November.

>> Read 5 things to know about González here

Whoever serves as interim, will only do so for a few months. Depending on results from the upcoming November election, either candidate Jenny Durkan or Cary Moon will take office as mayor of Seattle once election results are confirmed.

Lorena González, the first council member to publicly ask Murray to step down, serves one of the two citywide representatives.

Four former mayors believe the intern transition could create problems in city operations. Though, some council leaders – including González and Councilwoman Kshama Sawant – questioned Murray’s ability to run the city if he were to stay in office. 

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