Harrell to step down as Seattle mayor, asks City Council to elect new interim mayor

SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced Friday he will return to his post of City Council president and will ask the council to elect  a member to serve out the term of Ed Murray, who resigned over sexual abuse allegations.

Harrell had just been sworn in Wednesday as the city’s mayor. Under the City Charter, he had five days in which to decide if he would fill out the remaining term or ask the City Council to choose another member to fill the position. He said he hopes the City Council will vote on Monday to fill the mayor’s post.

Murray had resigned as mayor Wednesday.

Murray's decision to step down came just hours after The Seattle Times reported that a fifth man had alleged that Murray abused him decades ago. Murray has denied all the allegations but said his resignation was in the city's best interests.

Harrell was surrounded by other city officials as he was sworn in on Wednesday -- and again Friday when he announced he was not going to remain as mayor.

Harrell made the most of his brief tenure, signing four executive orders — including one that seeks to land Amazon's planned second headquarters back in its hometown.

"Now is the time to explore all alternatives to keep those jobs here," Harrell said.

Harrell said the city would submit a bid to Amazon after the tech giant announced last week it will spend more than $5 billion to build another headquarters in North America to house as many as 50,000 employees.

Seattle, already home to the company's sprawling urban campus headquarters, will join dozens of cities seeking the new Amazon facility.

Harrell became mayor this week when Murray resigned Wednesday because of sex abuse allegations, which he has denied.

After making the announcement about the Amazon bid, Harrell said he will not serve as mayor until a new leader is chosen by voters later this year. Instead, he said he will return to the City Council.

Harrell, who would've had to resign his council seat to remain as mayor, said the council will choose someone to lead the city until a winner in the mayoral race is formally declared after the November election.

A new interim mayor will be selected from eight other council members.

Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan and urban planner Cary Moon, both Democrats, are running for mayor in the November election.

Murray, a first-term mayor, previously had an 18-year career as a state lawmaker. He announced his resignation after The Seattle Times reported that a fifth man — one of his cousins — had accused Murray of molesting him decades ago.

Though he has vehemently denied all of the accusations, Murray had already decided not to seek re-election.

Murray disappeared from the spotlight with no sightings of him at City Hall this week since news broke that a fifth man was accusing him of sexual molestation from decades ago. That accuser is Murray’s younger cousin.

“He’s recognized that the mounting allegations would make it hard for him to finish his term,” City Attorney Pete Holmes said Wednesday, adding that he had talked to Murray on Tuesday, right before Murray’s decision to resign as mayor.

“His cabinet weighed in to make that decision. We offered legal advice for the questions that were raised and it was ultimately his decision,” Holmes said.

He added that as as long as there is no gap in executive leadership, city government will continue to run.

“All of the government framework will stay in place until subsequent executive action is taken; nothing changes in that sense,” Holmes said.

Harrell said at his news conference that if he declines to stay on as mayor, he hopes the council will vote for a replacement by Monday. Harrell said the City Charter does not state a deadline for a City Council vote on that matter.