The scenario timeline for a mayor filling Murray's vacancy

by: KIRO 7 News Staff Updated:

Depending on results from the upcoming November election, either candidate Jenny Durkan or Cary Moon will take office as mayor of Seattle in January 2018.

With Mayor Ed Murray resigning amid allegations from five sex abuse accusers, someone will have to serve as interim mayor in the meantime. 

According to the Seattle City Charter, the president of the council becomes mayor in the occasion of a mayoral vacancy unless he or she declines the position within five calendar – not business – days.

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Here’s exactly what the city charter says:

"The President of the City Council shall become Mayor; provided, that said President may within five days of such vacancy decline the office of Mayor, in which event the City Council shall select one of its members to be Mayor in the manner provided for filling vacancies in other elective offices."

Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell didn't reveal his intentions in a statement he released less than an hour after Murray’s resignation. Harrell will discuss the matter with his family and colleagues, and make a decision in the upcoming days.

There are two succession plans in place: what happens if Harrell accepts the office and what happens if he doesn’t.

Scenario timeline for succession plan if council president accepts office

Day 1 Office of Mayor becomes vacant.
Day 2-6 Council President accepts the office of Mayor within 5 days of the Mayor’s resignation.
Day 7 20-day period begins for filling Council vacancy by Council ballot at Special Full Council meeting.
Day 27 20-day period concludes for filling Councilmember vacancy.
Day 28 – 38 Council President Pro Tem distributes 10-day process timeline to elect new Council President and draft three updated Resolutions: 1) relating to committee structure, membership, meeting times, and duties of the standing committees of the Seattle City Council for the remainder of 2017; 2) monthly President Pro Tem of the City Council for the remainder of 2017; and 3) relating to Seattle City Councilmember participation on King County Committees, Regional Committees, State Committees, and City of Seattle Committees for the remainder of 2017.


Scenario timeline for succession plan if council president does not accept office

Day 1 Office of Mayor becomes vacant.
Day 7 If Council President declines Office of Mayor, 5-day period begins for filling vacancy in Office of Mayor by Special Full Council meeting.
Day 7 Council President distributes the 5-day process timeline to Clerk and Councilmembers for filling the Office of Mayor by Council ballot at Special Full Council meeting.
Day 12 Council elects Councilmember to fill Office of Mayor vacancy at Special Full Council meeting..
Day 12 Council President distributes the 20-day process timeline to Clerk and Councilmembers for filling the Councilmember vacancy. 
Day 32 20-day period concludes for filling Councilmember vacancy. Council shall meet and ballot at least once each day if vacancy is not filled within the 20 days.
 Day 33 to 43  Council President distributes 10-day process timeline to draft three updated Resolutions: 1) relating to committee structure, membership, meeting times, and duties of the standing committees of the Seattle City Council for the remainder of 2017; 2) monthly President Pro Tem of the City Council for the remainder of 2017; and 3) relating to Seattle City Councilmember participation on King County Committees, Regional Committees, State Committees, and City of Seattle Committees for the remainder of 2017.

 

Four former mayors believe Murray stepping down with just months to go in office could create problems in city operations. A letter – signed by Wes Uhlman, Charles Royer, Norman Rice, Greg Nickels in July – argues that a transition with just months before a new mayor would be a mess.

“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,” the letter said.

“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.”

Councilwomen Lorena Gonzalez and Kshama Sawant were among the dozens of leaders and organizations that called on Murray to step down. Gonzalez and Sawant both voiced concerned about Murray’s ability to run the city amid the allegations, and they argued Murray staying in office was hurtful to all victims of sexual abuse.

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