• Council President Bruce Harrell announces he won't seek re-election

    By: Casey McNerthney , Essex Porter

    Updated:

    SEATTLE - Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell announced Tuesday he would not seek re-election. 

    “Today I am announcing my intent not to seek re-election to the Seattle City Council for a fourth term because of my belief that three terms is sufficient in this role at this time,” Harrell said in a written statement.

    “I have been honored to serve the people of Seattle and thank the many community partners, city employees, organizations, family and friends who began this journey with me in 2007 and have worked with me to make our city better."

    Harrell represents District 2, South Seattle. 

    Two other council members -- Rob Johnson, who represents North Seattle’s District 4, and Sally Bagshaw, who represents District 7, which covers Pioneer Square to Magnolia – have said they’re stepping down at the end of their terms.

    Four others are up for re-election this year: Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle), Mike O’Brien (District 6, Northwest Seattle), Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle and South Park) and Debora Juarez (District 5, North Seattle.)

    The leading candidates to replace Harrell in Seattle District 2 say they offer a clear choice to voters.

    Ari Hoffman is a real estate businessman.

    “Do you want to continue the failed policies of Seattle? Do you want socialism? Do you want capitalism? Do you want a free market economy? Do you want wealth redistribution?” Hoffman asked KIRO 7’s Essex Porter.

    Tammy Morales is a Rainier Beach community organizer.

    “There is a clear line between how we serve our community, how (we) prioritize the voices of the people who live next door to us over the voices of wealthier political insiders,” Morales said when asked how she sees the choice.

    Body cameras for police officers are among Harrell’s most noticeable accomplishments-- he began advocating for them nearly a decade ago.

    Many remember him as a UW football star who remains one of the team’s top 10 tacklers of all time.

    Harrell is not ruling out seeking political office in the future.

    “I act out of love for people, love for God, love for family, love for this community.”


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    Harrell defeated Venus Velázquez in 2007, helped by her DUI arrest on Northwest Market Street less than three weeks before the election. Velázquez was found not guilty in that case by a jury in December 2008. 

    In addition to Harrell’s three terms, he also served as mayor from Sept. 13, 2017, to Sept. 18, 2017. He and Tim Burgess both briefly served after Mayor Ed Murray resigned following five sexual abuse allegations.

    During his six days as mayor, Harrell signed an order directing King County to find alternatives to youth incarceration. His order directed the creation of a task force comprised of Seattle city department and community leaders, who will be asked to “identify and define best practices in alternatives to youth detention.”

    He also said the city was “filthy” because of trash from illegal dumping and said he was embarrassed driving and walking through some parts of Seattle.

    Harrell grew up in Seattle, where his mother worked for the Seattle Public Library and his father worked for Seattle City Light. Harrell was valedictorian of Garfield High School’s class of 1976, and skipped a chance to go to Harvard to stay local and attend the University of Washington, where he was also a starting linebacker for football coach Don James. 

    Harrell grew up in the Central District and worked for years after law school in the Rainier Valley. He remains friends with many of his Garfield classmates and peers he played against at Garfield, and at the U.W. Harrell was a Rose Bowl champion teammate of Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon. 

    Harrell received the University of Washington Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007, and in 2013, he was inducted into the Northwest Football Hall of Fame. His wife, Joanne, has worked for Microsoft since 2001, leading global sales and marketing efforts. She also is on the U.W. Board of Regents. Their daughter, Joyce, was a standout basketball player at Cleveland High, and the Harrell family lives in Seward Park.

    Follow this link to read additional details about Harrell.

    “I have tried to level a playing field plagued with institutional unfairness; and lead with creativity and impact,” Harrell said Tuesday in a statement. “This is why in 2009, I converted the Race and Social Justice Initiative into permanent legislation to ensure evaluation of all City actions from an equity perspective. I succeeded in ‘Banning the Box’ to help those charged with crimes fully re-enter society after having paid their debt. I proposed the idea of Body Cameras in 2010 to level a police officer’s version of events against video evidence before others thought it popular. I proposed the idea of converting our City’s streetlights to LED lights and supported a new process for changing broken street lights because I observed that poorer areas in Seattle had more failed street lights. I succeeded in creating a sustainable $100 million-dollar savings account for City Light to protect us from fluctuating rate increases after hearing stories from people who could not afford to pay for their electricity.” 

    Read Harrell’s full Tuesday statement here.

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