City Hall

Tim Burgess, Next in Line to Be Mayor?

"Honestly, he's the right guy," said council member Sally Bagshaw.

By Hayat Norimine September 15, 2017

Bruce harrell door sign mayor seattle city council s5q78e

Come Monday, the Seattle City Council will decide whether to make Tim Burgess the next mayor.

"Honestly, he's the right guy," said council member Sally Bagshaw, who plans to nominate Burgess for the seat at their regular council meeting. 

Bruce Harrell, who was sworn in as acting mayor on Wednesday following Ed Murray's resignation, declined the executive office seat on Friday and will remain a council member representing District 2. He's half-Japanese and half-African American and was Seattle's first Asian American mayor, if only for five days. 

"I was elected to serve the constituents of District 2 and I will continue to do so," Harrell said. 

A vote for Burgess to take over as mayor would likely have support from the majority of council members. He and Harrell are the longest-sitting council members and have both served on the council since 2008. He's also just one of two council members (Lorena Gonzalez is the other, and she's running for reelection) who wouldn't have to give up years on the council to become mayor for two months. Council member Rob Johnson told PubliCola he'll support the vote for Burgess. 

Burgess in a released statement Friday said he wouldn't comment on his potential appointment as mayor. He ran for mayor in 2013 but dropped his race shortly before filing week, thinking he couldn't beat Murray despite having raised the most money.

Harrell declined to comment on who he would support as next mayor but said he's fairly confident the council can elect someone on Monday. Gonzalez will be council president during the council meeting and said in a released statement she's committed to having a vote on Monday for a mayor 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," Gonzalez said. "This council is ready to fulfill that need.”

That would leave council member Lisa Herbold—who worked under former council member Nick Licata, and has been working in City Hall for nearly 20 years—chairing the budget committee during the budget cycle. Gonzalez is council president as of Monday, and the council will vote on who should remain in that role for the rest of the year. 

The council has 20 days after a council member gets elected mayor to appoint someone to their vacant council seat. While Harrell's term will be brief, he signed four executive orders in just two days in the mayor's office:

  • The city must respond to Amazon's plan to build a second headquarters and create a task force for business retention strategies through the Office of Economic Development. 
  • The city will create a youth detention task force and provide alternative housing options to the King County Detention Center. Harrell said "the city has to put some skin in the game" by moving toward smaller facilities with more "normalized environments" rather than large institutionalized jails. 
  • Seattle Public Utilities and department heads will identify "hot spots" of litter and ways to increase the amount of trash picked up. City officials must send a memorandum to SPU assessing unmet waste removal needs and reduce illegal dumping and litter. Each department is required to identify further resources they could deploy on this effort by October 13. 
  • The chief technology officer in the IT Department must assess risks related to managing, sharing and protecting data, and report those risks for improvements by November 15. 
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