by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
City Council member and former mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell endorsed Washington State Sen. Ed Murray's bid to be mayor of Seattle in a press conference on September 5.
Saying he was giving Murray his 'official and unconditional endorsement,' Harrell added that the 'decision did not come lightly.'
'When I make a decision like this,' Harrell added, 'I study the issues, I study the person, I study the record, and I look forward to working with [Murray] as mayor.'
Harrell also praised Murray as someone 'known for being compassionate, known for a commitment to social justice.'
In a primary election field of nine candidates, Harrell finished fourth, winning 15.22% of the vote. He becomes the fourth City Council member to endorse Murray, after Tim Burgess, Sally Clark, and Tom Rasmussen. To date, no council members have endorsed incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn.
HITS McGINN ON POLICING
Harrell appeared at Thursday's press conference with Murray and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, who has also endorsed Murray, to discuss public safety issues. Like Murray and Holmes, Harrell, chair of the City Council's Public Safety Committee, has been sharply critical of McGinn's handling of police reform.
Calling public safety 'the highest priority of city government,' Murray said that 'police officers especially need leadership that promotes proactive policing and high morale, and gives the public confidence that their police department is professional and meets the highest standards.'
Murray promised to 'expedite the consent decree' under which the city promised to reform police practices, after a scathing Department of Justice (DOJ) report accusing the Seattle Police Department of a pattern of excessive force and other abuses.
'For a northern city on the West Coast, a consent decree is not a 'victory' for the city of Seattle,' Murray declared, referring to McGinn's characterization of the final settlement with DOJ. 'A consent decree is an embarrassment!'
PLEDGES HATE CRIME FIGHT
Murray also promised to tackle what he called a 'crisis' of crime. He challenged the incumbent's assertions that crime rates are down in Seattle.
'Not all crime is down,' Murray said, 'and not all crime is down in all neighborhoods.' He specifically noted what he called 'an uptick in hate crimes' in his own Capitol Hill neighborhood, and a widespread perception that Downtown is unsafe.
Returning to the issue of public trust in the police department, Murray added he was now hearing 'Gay men say something I haven't heard in 20 years - that they don't want to report to the police that they were beaten up.'
During the primary election campaign, Murray promised to conduct a nationwide search to select a new police chief as the first step in reforming the department.
Asked if replacing command personnel would be sufficient to restore public confidence in the police, Murray answered that 'it has to start at the top.'
'Police officers tell me they want clear leadership and a clear message of what is expected of them,' and they lack this leadership under the current Mayor, Murray said.
'The issue is giving SPD clear direction,' Harrell added.
MORE DIVERSITY NEEDED
Murray also said that he wanted to encourage hiring of police officers who live within Seattle city limits, and to promote greater diversity among SPD officers.
Holmes, who has repeatedly clashed with McGinn over the consent decree, said the discussion at the press conference was 'an example of what I dream about.'
'I'm disappointed,' Holmes added, 'that nobody [in the Mayor's office] wants to do the non-glamorous collaborative work it will take' to reform police practices.
Asked if he feared that his endorsement of Murray would lead to negative consequences if McGinn were re-elected, Harrell smiled and said, 'I don't think it gets much worse.' He quickly added that his endorsement of Murray 'is not a denigration of Mayor McGinn - I just think Ed would make a better mayor.'
'If [City Council] members endorse me and there's retribution later on, that's not leadership!' Murray added.
PUBLIC SAFETY PLATFORM
At the September 5 presser, Murray's campaign also released a three-page position paper on public safety issues setting out five goals:
o Select a new police chief;
o Accelerate implementation of the DOJ Accountability Plan;
o Promote responsible gun safety;
o Promote closer ties between SPD officers and the community; and
o Support firefighters and emergency personnel.
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