The Mayor of Capitol Hill: Seattle has seen Bruce Harrell before — but not like this

Harrell has started his 2021 run for the mayor’s office with some old fashioned grocery store campaigning (Image: @kunluv)

Bruce Harrell has campaigned here before. First elected to the Seattle City Council in 2007, Harrell would go on to win two more terms and serve as council president before deciding not to run again in 2019.

But campaigning in his month-old mayoral bid for a few hours recently at the Capitol Hill Safeway on E John felt different. Across the street Williams Place is home to one of the neighborhood’s city park encampments as officials — and neighbors — wrestle with how best to provide shelter and services and clear away the camps.

“People are so hungry for, I think, straight talk, not double talk,” Harrell told CHS Tuesday. “And they are hungry for boldness and they see the level of dysfunction in city government unlike they’ve seen it before.”

Harrell, a 62-year-old raised in the Central District who briefly served as the city’s first Asian-American mayor in 2017 after Ed Murray resigned, says they see him as a “voice of reason.”

As the city has faced economic turmoil from the COVID-19 pandemic and was consumed by racial justice protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, the past year has taught him how fragile the city is and brought into stark relief existing issues in the city, whether it be inequality or homelessness. Continue reading

Mayoral candidate Echohawk calls for ’emergency action’ to stave off sweep in ‘growing crisis around the homeless tent encampment at Miller Playfield’

(Image: CHS)

Concerns for the lives of the people living in the Miller Park encampments and worries about a sweep before next month’s planned return of in-classroom instruction at the campus’s Meany Middle School are driving Seattle mayor’s race candidate Colleen Echohawk to speak up now and call for the city to start emergency actions immediately.

“The main thing that is so frustrating, and the reason I’m running, is sweeps are so ineffective,” Echohawk tells CHS.

The executive director of the Chief Seattle Club human services agency says the situation at Miller underlines her campaign’s mission to make the city’s response to the homelessness crisis a core of the 2021 election — even if they don’t win, “we push efforts,” she said Tuesday morning.

In her statement, Echohawk called for “emergency rehousing of homeless people living in parks and public spaces that follows the JustCare model — transitioning people to a safe place to sleep while providing wrap-around services such as mental health and addiction treatment.”

Echohawk said those services along with the physically safe spaces are key.

“This is a humanitarian crisis, and it’s not working for anyone,” Echohawk said in the press release sent to media Tuesday. “It’s not working for the people in the tents. It’s not working for the neighbors living nearby. It’s not working for the people that want to use the playfield and it’s not working for the Meany community with school starting back up.”

CHS has an inquiry out to Durkan’s office about its efforts at Miller and the concerns about any impending sweep. Continue reading

The mayor of Capitol Hill: For those unhappy with Seattle’s ‘status quo,’ Jessyn Farrell says she’s the candidate for you

(Image: Jessyn for Mayor)

When Jessyn Farrell first ran for mayor in 2017, Seattle was facing many of the core issues it struggles with today: homelessness and housing affordability, public safety and policing.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these problems since Farrell, a former state lawmaker and public transit champion, finished a distant fourth in the mayoral primary four years ago. With that in mind, Farrell is making another run for the office.

“People are really suffering in so many different ways, whether it is economic hardship, racial injustice, isolation, the challenges of remote learning,” Farrell told CHS Thursday afternoon, citing her own experience as a parent. “Times are really, really hard and city leadership has really lacked the creativity and the scale around responding to these multiple crises.”

She breaks all of this down to two questions: “Is this going to be a city that people want and can afford to live in?”

Farrell, 47, represented the U-District and North Seattle in the state House from 2013 until 2017, when she resigned to focus on her first mayoral run. In high school, she was voted most likely to become a politician and went on to graduate from the University of Washington and Boston College Law School.

She was the executive director of the Transportation Choices Coalition, leading charges to fund an expanded light rail system. Since her previous run, she’s worked at Civic Ventures, the think tank headed by progressive taxation advocate Nick Hanauer.

Jenny Durkan’s announcement that she will not seek reelection after finishing her first — and only — term this year has led to a surge of candidates making moves to win the office.

The primary is still five months away and more than a dozen candidates have already filed to run for mayor, according to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, including Chief Seattle Club executive director Colleen Echohawk, who would be the city’s first Native mayor, city council president Lorena González, former council president Bruce Harrell, and Capitol Hill architect Andrew Grant Houston.

SEED Seattle’s interim director Lance Randall also announced his candidacy last year.

Another factor helping to power the 2021 race is the Seattle’s Democracy Voucher program which, for the first time, has been extended to include mayoral candidates. Farrell said Thursday that she is participating in the “innovative policy to keep big money out of our politics.”

In trying to delineate herself among the other candidates vying for the job, Farrell not only separated her opponents between progressive and moderate, but between insider and relative outsider, tacitly calling out González and Harrell, the early frontrunners in the race.

“There is a real hunger for problem solving and someone who has a track record of problem solving and I think that I fit that bill,” she said. “If you’re happy with the status quo, there are candidates who are currently and have been before in city government, then those are your candidates. I think though that most people are not satisfied with how things are going.”

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Seattle political veteran Harrell to make 2021 run for mayor

(Image: Bruce for Seattle)

With incumbent Jenny Durkan opting to step aside and not seek reelection, a Seattle political veteran is now the most downtown chamber-tolerable frontrunner in the 2021 Seattle mayor’s race.

Former city councilmember — and one-time five-day Seattle mayor — Bruce Harrell is announcing his candidacy for the mayor’s office Tuesday in a press conference with “a small number of family and supporters” outside the Central District’s Garfield High School, the political veteran’s alma mater and part of the old school Seattle base on which his personality and career as an elected in the progressive city has been built.

“Seattle needs a mayor committed to a real recovery, rooted in uniting everyone around our progressive values,” Harrell says in a video introducing his campaign.

“Committed to building equity and opportunity for every family, I was elected to the city council where we accomplished big things, raised the minimum wage, invested in transit and affordable housing,” the candidate says. “Now after divisive politics, a racial reckoning and a terrible pandemic, I’m running for mayor to help lead Seattle forward, to come together and work together. I know we can and will fix our city.”

UPDATE: We have added Harrell’s “open letter” announcing his candidacy and early platform proposals to the end of the post.

Included in the letter is a swipe from the council veteran at #defundSPD efforts. “We need to move beyond arbitrary and divisive public safety budget debates and align the needs of our entire community with the mandate of ending bias, improving response times, and reducing crime,” Harrell’s letter states. “We need the right kind of personnel to respond—like social workers and addiction specialists when an armed officer isn’t needed or appropriate. Accountability and training—and appropriate staffing for our growing city—require resources and reforms. We can do both.”

Harrell’s political career and long ties to the city and its Black community vault the candidate into a neck and a neck race with Lorena González, the current council president and biggest name so far in the run to replace Durkan after leading the city’s legislative body through the tumultuous 2020 political battles over COVID-19 crisis and recovery and the fight to reduce spending on the Seattle Police Department. In anticipation of Harrell’s run, González’s campaign is issuing “a public call for other candidates in the race to reject corporate PAC money and corporate independent expenditure assistance.”

Chief Seattle Club executive director Colleen Echohawk has also joined the race while Capitol Hill architect Andrew Grant Houston has made waves among progressives with an urbanist and social justice focused campaign. Meanwhile, Nikkita Oliver, another community leader many hoped would consider a run for mayor, instead is making a push to join the city council.

Harrell is cut from different cloth entirely. A standout high school athlete who grew up in 1970s-era Seattle, Harrell seems to approach his take on politics with a jock’s swagger and a habit for quips and jokey asides. Continue reading

Capital gains tax and police reform — State legislators to hold 43rd District Virtual Town Hall

A pre-spring tradition has been an annual gathering of our state representatives and senators for a community meeting about the goings on in Olympia. Saturday, you can tune in for a virtual town hall version of this political rite of spring as Reps. Nicole Macri and Frank Chopp, and Sen. Jamie Pedersen take part in an online update on the legislative session:

43rd District Virtual Town Hall
Saturday March 13, 20201 at 1 PM PST – 2 PM PST
Join your 43rd District representatives for a live virtual town hall on Saturday, March 13 at 1 p.m. Reps. Nicole Macri and Frank Chopp and Sen. Jamie Pedersen will share their thoughts on their legislative priorities and answer your questions on the issues you care about. Submit questions ahead of time:

Or submit questions live during the event by leaving a question in the comment section.

Our Seattle-area state lawmakers have said they are working on a suite of legislation that would look to improve police accountability across Washington through a more stringent officer decertification process, a public use of force database, and create a statewide civilian-led body for misconduct investigations. You also might want to ask about the plans for a new state capital gains tax and concerns efforts to forge a statewide payroll tax won’t undermine Seattle’s tax on large companies.

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With supporters hoping for 2021 run for Seattle mayor, attorney and activist Nikkita Oliver to teach course on ‘police and prison abolition’ at Seattle U

Seattle University has announced it is adding attorney and activist Nikkita Oliver to its faculty roster this spring to teach the school’s young would-be lawyers a course on “police and prison abolition.”

Don’t worry if you’re hopeful Oliver might make another bid for the Seattle mayor’s office — Seattle U’s policies won’t preclude the Seattle University School of Law adjunct faculty member making a 2021 run for city hall.

Oliver declined to comment on the 2021 race. “When the time is right, I will answer questions related to a mayoral campaign,” Oliver said. Continue reading

City Council passes disclosure rules targeting ‘indirect lobbying’ like Move Seattle Forward

This summer, the Move Seattle Forward group helped organize opposition to the City Council’s efforts to cut back on police spending in the city. it was a slick effort. And it probably helped shape the final budgets that followed.

Monday, the City Council passed new rules based on recommendations from the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission to clamp down on so-called “indirect lobbying” efforts that shape public opinion without having to disclose who was calling the shots and where the money was coming from. Continue reading

How King County Sheriff’s Office charter amendment votes on your November ballot can also change policing in Seattle

Girmay Zahilay thinks next month’s election is a once-in-a-decade opportunity for changing the way Seattle communities police themselves, but not in the way you might think.

The debate for months locally has been around the Seattle City Council’s moves to defund the police and shift some functions, such as 911 operations and parking enforcement, out of the department. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan King County Council has no such authority to change the ways law enforcement works at the county level.

The first step in improving how the King County Sheriff’s Office works, county councilmember Zahilay argues, is through a charter amendment on the ballot next month that grants the council the ability to decrease the department of public safety’s duties

“All of these structural barriers create a situation where, yeah, we can do budgetary sticks and carrots, but we can’t really have the true accountability and the true innovation to public safety like other jurisdictions can,” Zahilay told CHS. Continue reading

Kshama Solidarity campaign raising thousands in recall fight

The City of Seattle is covering the legal costs in Kshama Sawant’s fight against a recall campaign. The incredibly popular socialist leader’s fans — most also Seattle taxpayers — are giving to the cause, too.

“We’ve set a goal of raising $100,000 by October 31st, the end of our first full month of fundraising,” the pitch for the Kshama Solidarity fund reads:

We need to make abundantly clear to our opposition that working people won’t stand by while our movement is under threat. Defending Kshama’s city council seat is critical for continuing to build the movement to defund the Seattle Police Department by at least 50%, to win progressive funding for community programs and affordable housing, for community oversight and control of the police, and for working people to continue to have our voice in City Hall. shows more than $80,000 has already been raised.

The Sawant fundraising effort officially registered with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission last week with an opening filing of nearly $30,000 in donations — most in amounts of around $150 or less, and most from people listing Seattle addresses. Continue reading

As Durkan recall nixed, Sawant appeals her recall effort to State Supreme Court

As the State Supreme Court has crushed the effort to recall Mayor Jenny Durkan, her leading critic on the Seattle City Council is hoping for a similar decision.

The court Thursday rejected the “factually and legally insufficient” recall petition filed against Durkan after the mayor appealed a lower court’s decision to allow the effort to move forward.

Lawyers for District 3 representative Kshama Sawant are pushing for a similar outcome.

Last week, they filed to appeal the September King County Superior Court decision that certified a recall petition against the socialist councilmember on four allegations involving her participation in a brief June occupation protest inside City Hall, a rally and march to Mayor Durkan’s home at the end of that same month, the delegation of hiring decisions to Sawant’s political group Socialist Alternative, and the use of city resources to promote the Tax Amazon ballot initiative. Continue reading