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Councilmember Gonzalez To Mayor Murray: ‘Cloud Of Serious Allegations’ Merits An Unprecedented Response

Councilmember M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide) issued the following statement in response to Mayor Ed Murray’s letter stating his intent to fulfill his full term as Seattle’s Mayor:

“Last Monday I expressed my concerns about Mayor Ed Murray’s ability to simultaneously defend himself from public allegations of sexual abuse and to effectively serve our City as Executive. I believed then, as I do now, that this situation is unprecedented in Seattle’s history. I also believe that an unprecedented situation requires an equally historic response.

“After the State of Oregon’s findings of abuse by Child Protective Services (CPS) came to light, I encouraged Mayor Murray to consider whether these findings and the ongoing airing of those allegations would legitimately interfere with his ability to complete his term. In my statement dated July 17, I requested that he ‘…consider stepping down as Mayor and to work collaboratively with a subcommittee of the City Council to craft an Executive Leadership Transition Strategy.’

“Mayor Murray responded in two ways: initially, issuing a press statement.  And on Friday, July 21 the Mayor reiterated by letter to my colleagues and me his intent to fulfill his term.  In addition, he offered an ‘innovative approach’ to jointly govern the inevitable transitions that will occur this fall with a Joint Committee.

“I want to thank the Mayor for taking my concerns seriously.  Believing the Mayor has listened to my broader governance concerns in light of the allegations of abuse against him, I affirmed my support for the Mayor’s proposal to form a Joint Mayoral-Council transition coordination committee in a letter of response.  I believe the Mayor’s proposed joint effort is a respectful and judicious one that is squarely focused on ensuring our common interest in a coordinated transition. My further belief is that this committee will not only ensure a smooth handover of power to the next Mayor but will also advance the goal of providing the Legislative branch of local government a mechanism to independently evaluate whether the Executive is indeed effectively governing in spite of being under the cloud of these serious allegations.

“A collaborative approach has always been my preferred path to balance the ongoing need to effectively govern while acknowledging the grave harm caused by proceeding with a status-quo mentality. This is how we best serve the people of Seattle, who elected us to govern the City, given the circumstances surrounding the Mayor’s personal affairs and ongoing public vetting of the same.

“The decision to voluntarily vacate the Office of the Mayor remains with Ed Murray, even if concerns about that decision persists. There is nothing in the City’s Charter or law that provides Council with that authority nor does the Charter or law articulate a ‘resignation standard’ or protocols.  However, as a dogged advocate for sexual abuse survivors, it is my sincere hope that for the remaining months of his term our Mayor endeavor to refrain from using the court of public opinion to disparage his alleged victims of sexual abuse, and to stop categorically attacking the credibility of caseworkers and institutions, who are charged with the difficult work of investigating serious child sex abuse allegations.

“In the absence of a resignation, I recommend that the City Council independently address issues related to either a voluntary or involuntary transition of Executive leadership.  Above all, I continue to believe that as the Legislative branch of local government the City Council is compelled to prepare contingency plans in the event of a voluntary or involuntary vacancy in the Office of the Mayor.  It is my sincere hope that, under the leadership of Council President Bruce Harrell, we expeditiously work to assure the residents of Seattle that, in these unprecedented times, we are prepared to continue governing our great City no matter what lies ahead.”

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