Seattle LGBTQ commission wants mayor's resignation; others say that's not in city's best interest

By: Essex Porter , Ashli Blow, KIRO 7 News

Updated:

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

The newly found records, which show an Oregon child-welfare investigator concluded Murray abused his foster son, came after months of allegations from four alleged sexual abuse victims. No criminal charges were filed against Murray.

Murray, who is not seeking re-election, adamantly denies the allegations. 

These letters of varying opinions range from arguments of why the mayor should step down to how the mayor finishing his term is the best for the city. Read a breakdown of the recent letters below. 

LGBTQ commission calls for resignation

On Monday the Seattle LGBTQ Commission released a letter calling on Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to resign.

LGBTQ commission co-chair Julia Ricciardi sent a letter on behalf of the commission to Murray’s office on Monday.

>> Related: Seattle mayor and his accuser both share their side with KIRO 7

“We believe that you should no longer serve as the leader of the City of Seattle,” the letter said in part.

“We acknowledge that you have dismissed these allegations of sexual assault as "right-wing, anti-gay" activity. It is true that homophobic acts remain highly prevalent and destructive within the LGBTQ community … We perceive your attempt to dismiss these claims as a "politically motivated" monolithic issue of homophobia to be a maneuver that is divisive and damaging to our community.”

Ricciardi told us the mayor appoints half the members of the commission, and that the decision was unanimous.

“Doing good in one area of your civic life doesn't give you a free pass to engage in morally repugnant behavior.”

One councilwoman calls for stepping down, while other members note limitations of charter

Councilwoman – Lorena Gonzalez – called on Murray to consider stepping down from office just a day after the newly found records came to light.

She broached the topic during the full city council meeting, where members cautiously discussed the process and limitations of mayoral impeachment.

File photos: Mayor Ed Murray, Coucilwoman Lorena Gonzalez

>> Related: Murray after newly surfaced sexual abuse documents: I'm not going to resign

Council President Bruce 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 they also noted that the “allegations of abuse must be taken seriously at all times.”

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

Murray responded by sharing his own statement, maintaining that the allegations are false. He reiterated that he’s not resigning and wrote in a statement that his administration is governing effectively. 

Murray then sent a second letter to Gonzalez on Friday that proposed a joint “mayor-council transition coordination committee” to execute a plan for a “smooth transition of power to the next mayor.” Gonzalez agreed to the committee, as she announced through yet another statement on Monday, and she believes the council should still prepare contingency plans in the event of a voluntary and involuntary vacancy of the mayor.

Gonzalez talked to KIRO 7 News about how she has represented dozens of sexual abuse survivors as a lawyer.

“It does an injustice to juxtapose administrative burdens, the re-traumatizing effects that may be caused to survivors of sexual abuse by not being willing to step up and break the silence as elected leaders as it relates to this particular issues,” she said.

Four former mayors say Murray should stay in office

On Monday,  four former Seattle mayor released a statement supporting Murray staying in office. The letter – signed by Wes Uhlman, Charles Royer, Norman Rice, Greg Nickels – argues that a transition with just months before a new mayor would be a mess.

“We have been saddened by the recent allegations against Mayor Murray. He made the honorable, but personally painful decision to drop out of his reelection campaign, a decision that underscores his commitment to Seattle.”

>> Related: Who will be the next Seattle mayor? See the long list of candidates and who's leading

“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.”

The primary election for mayor is August 1. To read a list of who’s headlining the race, click here. Whoever wins the fall election will take office in early 2018. 


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