Councilmember and President Pro Tem M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide) issued the following statement after the announcement of Mayor Bruce A. Harrell, who stated earlier today that he is declining the role of Mayor of Seattle:
“Following the resignation of our City’s Mayor this week, then-Council President Bruce A. Harrell received the Oath of Office and became Seattle’s Mayor. This evening Mayor Harrell announced that, once the City Council selects a new Mayor, he will return to his role as Council President and District 2 representative.
“The City’s Charter, Council Rules and other governance statutes serve to provide the City Council guidance on much of what follows. In January 2016, in accordance with the Council rules and procedures, this Council approved a resolution that set the Council President Pro Tem schedule. A Councilmember becomes the Council President Pro Tem when the President is sick, vacationing or otherwise absent. I am proud that the schedule affords me an opportunity to serve the people of Seattle and lead my Council colleagues as Council President Pro Tem during a time of tremendous transition.
“The City’s Charter, Council Rules and Governance Resolutions also give us direction as to how we fill the vacancy of a Councilmember, which in this case is created by a Councilmember serving as Mayor. While the City Charter, Article XIX, Section 6, creates a 20-day timeframe in which to fill a Council vacancy by a majority vote of all Councilmembers, the City Charter gives the Council flexibility as to the precise process for filling a vacancy created by the Council President’s or other Councilmember’s departure from City Council. While then-Council President Harrell developed a Succession Plan memo with a recommended schedule and course of action last month, that schedule is not required by the Charter or the Council Rules and is therefore not binding.
“As Council President Pro Tem, after reviewing historical precedence and consulting with the City Attorney’s Office and the City Clerk, I believe that there are at least two viable options this Council can pursue when a Council vacancy is created by a Councilmember accepting the position of Mayor.
“Option A: The Council may choose to implement an expedited Council vacancy appointment process. In other words, a Councilmember may, at the next Full Council meeting or a Special Full Council meeting, nominate an eligible person to fill a Council vacancy. If a majority of Councilmembers vote for that nominee, the individual will fill the Council vacancy upon acceptance and taking the Oath of Office.
“Option B: The Council may take all or part of the full 20 days to identify, vet and appoint a new Councilmember. Under Option B, the Council may choose to publicly solicit applications from interested candidates, identify a slate of finalists and require those finalists to participate in a public process before the Council nominates a finalist for a vote by Full Council.
“On Monday, September 18th, during the Council Briefing at 9:30 a.m., the Council will discuss these options to fill an inevitable vacancy created by Mayor Harrell’s declination of the position of Mayor.
“Also on Monday, September 18th, during the Full Council Meeting at 2:00 p.m., I intend for the Council to cast a vote to elect a councilmember to be the Mayor of Seattle. If no selection has been made within 20 days, the Council must meet and vote every day thereafter until a selection is made.
“Our City faces an unprecedented and historic moment, amidst this transition we are also embarking on the budgeting process beginning on September 25th to determine how we allocate more than $5 billion for Seattle services. A swift decision about who fills the vacancy left by the Council-selected councilmember will be of paramount importance. To avoid disruption to our upcoming budget process and responsibilities, it will be incumbent upon all Councilmembers to prioritize the need to timely fill this Council vacancy with an appointment of a new Councilmember who can hit the ground running.
“What Seattle needs most now is continuity, decisive action and swift resolution of these transition issues for the benefit of Seattle residents. This Council is ready to fulfill that need.”