Following months of sexual abuse allegations that continued to pile up, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is resigning from office effective tomorrow.
Murray released a statement Tuesday afternoon announcing his resignation just two hours after The Seattle Times reported that the mayor's cousin Joseph Dyer said he was sexually abused by Murray starting when Dyer was 13, making him the fifth accuser. Murray still denied the allegations Tuesday but said it was important that his "personal issues do not affect the ability of our city government to conduct the public’s business."
Murray said he was proud of his record at the mayor's office, where he passed bills that enacted a $15 minimum wage, the Mandatory Housing Affordability program, community oversight for police, and the KeyArena deal, as well as his record at the state Legislature before he took Seattle's executive office.
"But it has also become clear to me that in light of the latest news reports it is best for the city if I step aside," Murray said in his statement. “To the people of this special city and to my dedicated staff, I am sorry for this painful situation."
Council president Bruce Harrell will become mayor tomorrow and have five days to decide whether to take office as mayor for the remaining few months of the year. Harrell in a released statement said he intends to talk to family, colleagues and "trusted members of our city" on his decision. Director of Operations Fred Podesta will be leading the transition, according to the mayor's office.
The fifth accuser became the final straw after months of reports, starting in April when a man sued Murray on grounds of child rape. More organizations and city officials called on Murray to resign in July following a Seattle Times report that showed Child Protective Services concluded in 1984 he sexually abused his foster child.
Both mayoral candidates Cary Moon and Jenny Durkan urged the mayor to resign Tuesday following The Seattle Times report. Moon called on him to resign in May when Murray dropped his bid for reelection, during which only Moon and former mayor Mike McGinn asked him to step down. Durkan, who was endorsed by Murray in June, said in a statement Tuesday that it was in "everyone's best interest for him to resign."
"As a parent, former public official and openly gay woman these allegations are beyond sad and tragic; no official is above the law," Durkan said.
Moon at an emotional press conference Tuesday— joined by Gender Justice League director Danni Askini, human rights commissioner Tammy Morales, and former city council candidate Michael Maddux, who all said they were sexual abuse survivors—thanked the mayor for making the right decision and called on Durkan to reject Murray's endorsement. Durkan's campaign said she withdrew his endorsement Tuesday, and her campaign website no longer includes his name.
"In July, Jenny asked the mayor to reflect deeply if he could continue to lead and put the best interests of the city first," said Stephanie Formas, Durkan's spokesperson. "After reading today's story, Jenny felt it was abundantly clear that he had no capacity to tackle the urgent issues of our city."
Moon said she urged Murray to resign following the end of his reelection because of the conversations she had with sexual assault survivors and the triggering effects the case had on them. She said the city in the months leading up to Murray's resignation was more willing to "circle the wagons and protect his legacy" than to demand justice for survivors.
"A mayor's job is to act with integrity and to ensure that every Seattleite feels respected and safe," Moon said. "We have to live the values we claim to hold and whoever's in the mayor's office must lead by example."
Other city officials drastically changed their tune since July, when the majority of council members favored keeping Murray and listed complications with the transition process. Back then only Lorena González and Kshama Sawant asked Murray to consider resigning.
Council member Tim Burgess told PubliCola he spoke to Murray at the mayor's office shortly before The Seattle Times published the article and advised Murray to step down.
"I told him that I felt he should resign, that the accumulation of the accusations was just too much to bear. And for the interest of the city and for him personally, he should step aside," Burgess said. "Just the accumulation of these individuals, and now we have a family member who's stepping up and saying that, it just made it unbearable at this point."
Updated Tuesday, September 12, 2017, at 6:15pm: This post includes updated statements from Durkan's campaign and Burgess.