Harrell addresses leaked criticism of councilmembers, homelessness authority in press conference

SEATTLE — After a series of controversial comments made in private to Seattle police precincts were made public this week, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell responded to those reports on Wednesday.

Harrell said he will “own” the controversial comments he made to officers.

Earlier in the week, KTTH talk show host Jason Rantz quoted the mayor calling some councilmembers “inexperienced” and said the regional homelessness authority was “working against him.”

“Whatever people said I said, I will own it,” Harrell said Wednesday at a press conference on parks funding, in response to questions. “I’ve been in this city my entire life and if there’s one thing about me it is that I am authentic.”

The KTTH story quoted Harrell saying that he doesn’t believe “anyone has a right to sleep in a public space,” and Harrell hinted he might reduce the city’s contribution to the King County Regional Homelessness Authority.

Harrell did not directly answer whether he plans to send less money to the new agency, but also did not hide his frustration with the overall progress on homelessness.

“I’m still not happy with what I’m seeing. And you do not want a mayor who is complacent,” Harrell said.

KTTH quoted Harrell calling some city councilmembers “inexperienced,” and on Tuesday the mayor confirmed he talked with potential council candidates for 2023.

“I’m very confident we have strong relations with the council, that’s what we’re trying to build. And nothing I said publicly or privately will detract from that,” Harrell said.

The mayor said he had “good conversations” with people “affected” by his comments.

Harrell’s office did not respond to repeated requests for comment prior to Wednesday’s press conference.

In a statement to KIRO 7, Councilmember Andrew Lewis said, “Mayor Harrell has been great to work with. We’ve accomplished a lot on homelessness and public safety in the last month. He’s done nothing but act in good faith, and I have no reason to believe that will change.”

The King County Regional Homelessness Authority responded to Harrell’s reported comments with a statement that read in part, “With our partners, we are working to create vibrant, inclusive communities where everyone has a safe and stable place to live, and we can accomplish that goal when we work together.”

Comments on this article