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Seattle City Council President: ‘The atmosphere has changed’

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SEATTLE — Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell, thought of by many City Hall insiders as a voice of reason on a council steadily moving further to the left, announced this week that he would not seek reelection.

Harrell, a Seattle native whose parents worked for the city for years, said three terms felt sufficient.

“While my work as a council member will end in 2019, I will remain an engaged community leader and look forward to continuing my work to create a more vibrant, healthy and just society,” he wrote in a statement.

In an interview in council chambers Wednesday, Harrell reflected on the direction of the city and a climate that has steadily soured during public debate over important issues, such as homelessness, affordability, and policing.

“Certainly, the atmosphere has changed. The anger, I think, is unprecedented,” he said. “Much of the anger I understand. They’re angry about housing prices, transportation, race and social justice issues, the homeless issue. They want leaders to ‘Do something! Change it! Change it now!’

“I deal with it well, because I understand their anger. But I always want people to realize that anger is not sustainable. Love and kindness is sustainable.”

Harrell also commented on criticism of some of the more fringe members of the council, such as Kshama Sawant, a socialist whose supporters are often behind outbursts during public meetings.

“I make a habit not to speak for other council members. I have strongly disagreed with many of the statements she’s said. She has a right to say whatever she says,” he said.

In particular, Harrell was asked whether Sawant has been out of line in her criticism of the Seattle Police Department.

“Whenever I see an officer, I always thank them for their service. I always tell them to be safe. I think most council members take that approach,” he said. “But no, I certainly have disagreed with – well, I’ve disagreed with every colleague up here on occasion.”

Watch more of the interview between Harrell and Q13’s Brandi Kruse below.

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