What the political shake-up means for Seattle after Murray’s resignation

SEATTLE — Mayor Bruce Harrell said he will announce by 5 p.m. Friday whether he will continue to serve out Ed Murray’s term or opt to return to the City Council and have the legislative body choose someone else to fill the post until a mayor is elected by voters in November.

Harrell, who had been the City Council president, was sworn in as mayor Wednesday when Murray stepped down over child sexual abuse accusations.

“I don’t see this as a caretaking obligation, I should make that very clear. I see this as an opportunity to set the stage for excellence,” Harrell said before taking the oath of office.

Murray resigned after a fifth man -- the former mayor's younger cousin -- came out and accused Murray of sexually molesting him as a teenager decades ago.

“I mean this is extremely unusual, we don’t have sex scandals,” Q13 News Political Analyst C.R. Douglas said.

In fact, the last time a mayor of Seattle resigned was nearly 50 years ago when James Braman stepped down after being appointed by President Richard Nixon to a federal position.

“The region is having to kind of figure out what this means, what effects this will have,” Douglas said of the Murray resignation.

Douglas said Harrell -- or whoever else may take over as mayor until the November election -- has one goal in mind: “They want a smooth transition, which is the single most important thing between now and the new mayor."

Douglas said Murray’s top issues like homelessness, affordable housing and the KeyArena deal will remain a top priority.

“I don’t see the interim mayor rocking the boat a ton,” Douglas said.

The biggest city business now is the announcement of a fiscal 2018 budget that Murray was expected to release on Sept. 25.

“They’ve been working on that since this spring with the collaboration of the council,” Douglas said, meaning what Murray envisioned for the city budget is already set to go and expected to receive the council’s vote.

Douglas said big changes, if any, will happen when either Jenny Durkan or Cary Moon is elected the new mayor on November 7.

“That person is going to come in and put a new stamp on City Hall,” Douglas said.

Because of Murray’s resignation, whoever is elected will likely take office earlier than usual. Mayoral terms typically begin in Seattle on the Jan. 1 after the November election, but this year the winner could take office on November 28 or 29 when King County Elections certifies the Nov. 7 election results.

Douglas said Harrell will most likely decline to remain as mayor past Friday afternoon because his council seat would be at stake.