Bruce Harrell enters crowded Mayor’s race

Bruce Harrell

By Charles Lam
Northwest Asian Weekly

Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell announced his entry into the increasingly contested mayoral race on Tuesday, Jan. 15. The campaign will officially kick off at 6 p.m. on Feb. 7 at the First A.M.E. Church on Capitol Hill.

“I am running for mayor because people in Seattle need strong, proactive leadership and a leader who inspires our city to build a pathway to success for all,  a leader who will jumpstart our city with fresh ideas and energy,” Harrell said.

Harrell, who is half Black and half Japanese American, is a former Rose Bowl-winning Husky linebacker. He was quick to target current Mayor Mike McGinn.

“Wherever I go, from community forums to the park, that mayor is overwhelmingly not supported,” Harrell said in a phone interview. “Nothing creative has been done from his office.”

Harrell joins the race with fellow City Councilmember Tim Burgess, real estate broker Charlie Staadecker, State Senator Ed Murray, former Greenwood Community Council President Kate Martin, former City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck, and incumbent Mayor McGinn. The registration deadline for the August primary is still months away in May.

Other potential candidates include former King County Executive Ron Sims, local business owner Albert Shen, and others.
The candidates will face off in an August primary that will send the top two candidates to the November election.

Harrell’s time on the city council includes his successful oversight of Seattle City Light, preventing rate increases in 2008 and 2009, and pressure on Seattle Police Department reform.

Among Harrell’s campaign proposals are a $20 million private endowment to make college education more affordable, the conversion of current community centers to “empowerment centers,” and a strong push towards police department reforms.

Harrell stated he would convert the majority of community centers to Empowerment Centers, giving youth, seniors, and all people the tools and curriculum to be successful.

He would also create 20 Community Service Officers (CSOs) with approximately four in each precinct, reflecting the communities they serve. The CSOs would strengthen the police department’s community presence, build relationships, conduct meaningful outreach for the police department, and facilitate a program known as Saving Streets and Saving Souls that bring faith communities, gang outreach workers, and mentors to the troubled parts of the city.

“Gang violence and substandard housing described other cities, not Seattle,” Harrell said. “Our culture demanded that we worked hard to understand the needs of others. My administration will listen and provide ‘honest straight talk,’ this will distinguish it from all others. Our authenticity will inspire others to be better, to be bolder. I have demonstrated the courage to identify our City’s frailties, as well as the boldness to propose novel solutions.”

Harrell would also extend to all Seattle Public High Schools a program that currently exists at two schools, which allow graduating students to attend South Seattle Community College with free tuition. This would be accomplished with private money by establishing a $20 million endowment fund.

He intends to run his mayoral campaign similarly to his two council campaigns.

“I am going to use the same strategies that I used in my last two campaigns,” Harrell said. “Grassroots strategy with lots of volunteers. People believe in what I do.”

To the Asian community, he is honest.

“I am the only candidate who will openly talk about the differences in the Asian community,” he said. “But I will not subscribe to the idea that we all think alike. I won’t fragment us.” (end)

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Charles Lam can be reached at

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