by: Essex Porter Updated:
SEATTLE - The inaugural ceremonies aren't until Monday, but Ed Murray quietly became Seattle's new mayor on New Year's Day. Asked what he plans to accomplish in his first hundred days, Murray pointed out the window of his temporary transition office high in the Seattle Municipal Building.
"One of the things I see out my window in this office are the homeless encampments right there on the other side of the freeway," Murray said. "It is deeply, deeply troubling in a city and a region of such wealth.
Responding to questions about his first 100 days, Murray began with economic justice. "The issue of an affordable city, a city where folks can earn a living wage, where folks can afford to rent or even buy a house," Murray explained.
The $15 an hour minimum wage is a big part of Murray's immediate plans. Just before Christmas, he appointed an advisory committee from business and labor to help him devise a plan to get there, without a bruising fight at the ballot box.
"I want an agreement within four months and I don't want the business community and the labor community to go out and spend oodles of money on an initiative," Murray said. "They could better use those resources to help employees and create jobs, so that's why I have that four-month timeline,"
The new mayor wants to move even more quickly on the Police Department and public safety. He says that in a few days he will outline his goal to hire a new police chief in 90 days, if the right person can be found.
"We need to deal with personnel issues within the police department, training issues, technology issues, all these things need to be well underway from the beginning of this administration," Murray said.
The biggest transportation problems will take years to fix, but Murray plans a quick start. "Prioritizing which transportation projects, we're going to do first, and what is the revenue source that is attached to those transportation projects. I want to have that well underway in those first 100 days."
Murray is Seattle's first openly gay mayor and because of his work in passing marriage equality, he is a regional gay civil rights icon.
For the first time, they have to open up the big lobby at Seattle City Hall for the inauguration ceremony Monday, because 800 people are expected to attend. Murray said the inauguration plans reflect his approach to governing.
"City Hall is no longer going to be kind of that quiet place but we want to find a way to really keep people engaged at City Hall, both the physical building and the concept city wide," Murray said.
Murray told us he's thinking about scheduling regular days where citizens who want to see him come to City Hall for face-to-face meetings.
And, Murray is not just Seattle's first openly gay mayor; he is the nation's first mayor in a same-sex marriage.