by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Delvonn Heckard, the man who accused Seattle Mayor Ed Murray of paying him for sex when he was underage, has dropped his lawsuit against Murray.
Heckard's attorney, Lincoln Beauregard, filed a motion to withdraw the complaint on June 13, and it was granted by a King County Superior Court. Beauregard filed the suit on Heckard's behalf in April.
Murray, who always denied Heckard's allegations, dropped his run for re-election last month. At a June 14 press conference, Murray said he'd been 'vindicated' by withdrawal of the lawsuit and did not rule out running for re-election as a write-in candidate.
Heckard's suit was dismissed 'without prejudice,' meaning he can still file additional complaints against Murray, and Beauregard said his client would definitely refile his suit after he completes his drug rehab program next year. Beauregard also said his client would stand a better chance after Murray leaves office.
In his June 14 press statement, Murray called Beauregard a 'publicity-hungry lawyer with special connections to certain members of the press' and repeated his charge that the lawsuit was politically motivated.
Murray did not name the 'members of the press' he referenced in his remarks, but the Seattle Times chose to cover Heckard's allegations - as well as similar charges made by other men who said Murray had sex with them when they were teenagers - after passing on the story in 2008 when the charges against Murray first surfaced.
'You were not successful,' Murray said, apparently addressing Beauregard. 'I will continue to be mayor of this city.' Murray promised that his political work would continue.
'This lawsuit was a painful experience,' Murray said.
'It was a painful experience for victims of abuse, sexual abuse. It was a painful experience for the vulnerable people who seemed to have been exploited by an attorney with a publicity agenda. It was a painful experience for people in the LGBT community who were subjected to the most despicable stereotype of who gay men are.'
Both Murray and his husband, Michael Shiosaki, told reporters they were angry over the charges and the apparent end to Murray's political career.
Murray's attorney, Malaika Eaton, was even more explicit in condemning Beauregard. The timing of his motion to withdraw the suit 'raises questions, given that it occurred only one day before Plaintiff was required to provide answers to questions under oath that we believe would have, along with the objective and undisputed medical evidence, shown his accusations against Mayor Murray to be false,' she said in an email.
'That aside, we are pleased that the case is now dismissed. The excuses Plaintiff has made for this dismissal are just that, excuses, and were rejected by the Court when the Court denied Plaintiff's motion to move the case out of Seattle,' she added.
Beauregard filed a motion to change judges and move the suit to another jurisdiction in May, but it was rejected by the court. Beauregard was subsequently fined $5,000 for his flamboyant conduct of the case.
Former US Attorney and current candidate to succeed Murray as mayor, Jenny Durkin, said in a statement that she wished Murray and Shiosaki 'a time of healing now that this cloud has been lifted and the lawsuit against the mayor has been withdrawn.'
'Ed Murray has been, and continues to be, a strong and progressive civic leader,' Durkan continued. 'He has been a strong mayor and has led Seattle with a just and equitable vision. I look forward to continue working with him in the months and years to come.'
Another potential successor, former state Rep. Jessyn Farrell said she was 'shocked to hear the news this morning, and my heart goes out to Mayor Murray, Michael, their families and friends for the pain of the past several weeks. As a city, we must reject the politics of personal destruction. Our voters-and our elected leaders-deserve better.'
According to Seattle City Council candidate Teresa Mosqueda, Seattle is a tale of two cities.
'On the surface, this city has a progressive reputation,' she says. 'Other cities look to us to see what can be done - from our $15 minimum wage law, to paid sick days, to secure scheduling. Arguably, Seattle is leading the resistance to the Trump administration.
'People from all over the country want to move here. Our economy is booming.
'But one layer below all that, you see the inequities. People of color, immigrants, the LGBT community - all of them experience negative outcomes. There's where you find the greatest level of income inequality. There's displacement of communities due to gentrification. I've talked to seniors who have to pay more in property taxes than they do for their mortgage.
'There's so much prosperity but so little shared prosperity!'
Mosqueda has spent the last seven and a half years working on exactly these issues as Political and Strategic Campaign Director for the Washington State Labor Council (WSLC). She would have been perfectly happy, she says, continuing to lobby legislators and running initiative campaigns on behalf of the state's labor movement, but recently something changed.
'I never thought I'd be running for office,' she tells the SGN. 'But I worked on Initiative 1433 to raise the state minimum wage and give workers paid sick days, and we passed that! But the day it passed was also the day Trump was elected.
'Now we can't rely on the feds any longer. In the course of my work in Olympia, I saw for myself the gridlock in the state legislature. Our cities are now the first line of defense for working people. So many people approached me to run - elders, labor leaders - and I had to say yes.'
Mosqueda bridges the gap between activist and policy wonk. As organized labor's woman in Olympia, she helped to draft legislation, persuaded skeptical lawmakers to embrace it, and brought community pressure to bear on them if they faltered.
Asked to list the differences between herself and her opponents, she replies quickly, 'I know how to work with our diverse communities, and I know how to get legislation passed.
'If you want to lift up low-income LGBT people, if you want economic and social justice, you need someone who can deliver on our values.'
Prior to working for WSLC, Mosqueda worked for SeaMar Community Health Centers, where she was charged with helping Spanish-speaking seniors get health insurance.
'I was supposed to help them get their health insurance cards,' she remembers, 'but they needed a lot more than just the card. They needed transportation to and from the doctor. Many were still working, so they needed to schedule their appointments around their work hours - which means they needed predictable work schedules.
'For many, our immigration system had failed them. They had jobs where they paid into Social security but they'd never get anything back.
'My parents were both educators,' she continues, 'and my dad always told me 'radical' means going to the root cause. So what's the root cause? Why are people falling through the cracks?'
If elected, Mosqueda will be unique on the Seattle City Council in one other way. She will be the only renter on the Council, in a city where 52-53% of the residents are renters.
'My fiancé and I have a one-bedroom apartment in Queen Anne,' she says. 'Last month we got notice that our rent was going up another $250. That's $3,000 a year. We both have good union jobs, so we can do that. We're lucky. But I see development leaving people behind.
'We need every tool in the toolbox to cope with it. Rent control. Community ownership. Land trusts. Every city-owned parcel of land that can sustain development should be turned into housing. And it should be managed by PDAs [public development authorities] - we own it and we have control over the costs. We also need a Tenants' Bill of Rights.'
As a first-time candidate, Mosqueda says she's taken quite well to campaigning.
'The easiest thing is having conversations with voters,' she smiles. 'I think it's because I've lived their experiences. I'm a woman of color, I'm young - I'm 36 - I'm a renter, I've worked with a senior population and with non-English speakers.
'The hardest thing is talking about me in the singular. I've brought together and led coalitions, but now I have to say 'I' instead of 'we.'
Asked if there was one thing she wanted SGN readers to remember about her, Mosqueda replied, 'I love Seattle. I want to fight for economic and social change - and to afford to live here!'
Teresa Mosqueda is running for Seattle City Council Position 8, an at-large seat elected by the whole city.
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