Sexual abuse allegations against Seattle Mayor Ed Murray continue to be a cloud over City Hall, where pressure for his resignation has become a conversation both in and outside city council chambers.
Murray is now facing pressure from the Seattle LGBTQ Commission, including members appointed by the mayor's office, to resign when members sent a strongly worded letter both to the mayor and to council members Monday morning. Ann Luetzow, a member of the commission, tried to read the letter out loud during Monday's regular council meeting. (Council president Bruce Harrell said Leutzow needed to speak about something on the agenda.) Mayoral candidates and Michael Maddux, who previously ran for city council, also called for his resignation last week.
"Claiming homophobic intent to shield yourself from accountability and erase the experiences of survivors of sexual abuse is silencing, manipulative, and morally repugnant," LGBTQ Commission co-chair Julia Ricciardi wrote to Murray. "To serve in the honorable role of mayor of Seattle, one should be an exemplar of leadership, accountability, and honesty. Based on what we know at this time, we do not believe that you can embody these ideals, and public trust in your leadership has eroded."
But since last week, when council member Lorena González released a statement asking Murray to reconsider stepping down, other council members have made it clear they wouldn't have the votes to pursue removing Murray, at least with what they have to go on right now.
González's statement Monday morning said council members should still have contingency plans, but she supported Murray's idea of a committee and had a much softer tone on Murray's resignation. She told PubliCola she still believed the council should be prepared in case more information on the allegations comes to light.
"What I heard from our council members last week in response to my position is that they are not comfortable with the information that currently exists for purposes of resignation or invoking impeachment," González told PubliCola on Monday.
Instead they're now discussing a joint committee between the mayor and council members—an idea Murray brought up to González after her statement—to help ease the transition for the next mayor. Four former Seattle mayors—Wes Uhlman, Charles Royer, Norman Rice, and Greg Nickels—also stood by Murray and said he should stay in his role for the remaining five months to help the transition.
"Council has never been involved in coordinating a transition from one mayoral administration to another," González told PubliCola. "To do that as far as I know is unprecedented in its history."
Murray has said he's already been preparing the office for his successor. Neither Harrell nor González have said what council members' involvement would look like, so it's unclear right now as to what this committee would change about the transition process.
And it wouldn't address the question Seattle has right now of how council members will respond to the issue of sexual abuse allegations. At the Monday council briefing, Kshama Sawant said she believes the council should act independently without the mayor's input in this case.
"While we should be preparing for all scenarios…the most important duty we have is a political duty as a legislative body," Sawant said to council members Monday morning. "I think it's a question at this point of what we owe as a legislative body to sexual assault survivors in general, and the survivors in these particular cases."
Murray hasn't held a press conference since The Seattle Times published its article on the Child Protective Services investigation on July 16, instead releasing press releases; a Facebook video announced his executive order enforcing body cameras.