As the city Monday morning was preparing for a very likely vote for council member Tim Burgess to be the next mayor, some tension remained between council members Sally Bagshaw and Lorena González after a comment Bagshaw made about why she's supporting Burgess over González for mayor.
Bagshaw at a Friday press conference told reporters González was busy with getting married and campaigning, She publicly apologized to González on Monday morning.
"It was your story to tell. I just want you to know that I recognize that this caused much hurt and embarrassment for you and for your staff, and I'm deeply sorry for that," Bagshaw said. "I really believe that you and all women that I've worked with can easily handle both your growing career and your personal life. I made a mistake. It was an inappropriate statement, and I apologize to you."
Burgess and González are the only council members who could take on the mayor's role without giving up years on the council, and the council members are scrambling to replace Ed Murray before the scheduled budget speech late September. Murray resigned last week after a fifth man, his cousin, accused him of sexual abuse.
Bagshaw on Friday told reporters she would nominate Burgess on Monday. She said "he's the right guy" and "a very stable leader on the council," adding that he also chaired the budget committee last year and understood the budget process well.
When PubliCola asked Bagshaw to elaborate on why Burgess and not González, Bagshaw responded, "Well, Lorena's getting married at the end of November. She's also a candidate. Those two are very good reasons." Crosscut quoted Bagshaw's statement, which received backlash on social media and a response from González.
Bagshaw on Monday during her apology said she repeated what she heard earlier, that she thought González wasn't interested in being mayor because of her busy schedule. (On Friday, Bagshaw said Burgess was interested.) González on Monday morning sent a statement saying she would not seek nomination for the executive seat.
González remained stone-faced and made no eye contact with Bagshaw while she apologized Monday, and followed her statement with a brief, "We discussed this offline, and I appreciate the public apology. Thank you."
There was no discussion on Burgess's nomination during the council briefing beyond the apology and González, who is acting council president, explaining the process this afternoon. The city will need a council majority vote for a new mayor; Bruce Harrell is still mayor, council member Lisa Herbold is gone, and Burgess will likely recuse himself as a conflict of interest. That leaves six votes left on the council, and five of them must agree to Burgess.
It could be close if council member Kshama Sawant votes against it—but González said Monday morning that she would not seek nomination as mayor, and there's no other alternative without a council member losing two years on the council.
If Burgess becomes mayor, council members discussed holding a public meeting on appointing someone to his seat Friday, when both Harrell and Herbold are expected to be back on the council. The council has two options, either to appoint someone within five days or wait longer (up to 20 days) to publicly solicit applications from interested candidates.
Rob Johnson and Bagshaw both favored appointing someone who would be familiar with the budget process right away to have all nine council members ready for the budget process a week from now, given how short the appointment will be. (The appointed council member would be in Burgess's seat until November 28, when either Jon Grant or Teresa Mosqueda takes over.) Kshama Sawant wanted to open it up to the public and said a bigger "hurdle" to not getting work done would be to have the wrong voice on the council.