Seattle Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell
Seattle Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell, pictured on Election Day 2021 after a meet and greet with voters (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Bruce Har­rell has pre­vailed in the 2021 con­test for May­or of Seat­tle and will be the city’s next leader, rival M. Lore­na González acknowl­edged today.

In a state­ment, González con­grat­u­lat­ed Har­rell and con­ced­ed the race, as is tra­di­tion. She also released the state­ment as a series of tweets.

With today’s bal­lot drop, it’s clear that Bruce Har­rell will be the next May­or of Seat­tle. Ear­li­er, I called him to con­grat­u­late him on a hard-fought race and wished him much luck in his efforts to make progress on the chal­lenges Seat­tle faces,” Gon­za­lez said. “To all of our sup­port­ers who poured their hearts into this cam­paign, I thank you for every­thing you did.”

“Togeth­er with our part­ners in the labor move­ment, we knocked over 100,000 doors talk­ing to vot­ers in all parts of Seat­tle about mak­ing our city more afford­able, re-imag­in­ing polic­ing and strength­en­ing pub­lic safe­ty, requir­ing wealthy cor­po­ra­tions to pay their fair share, and address­ing our home­less­ness cri­sis in a man­ner that treats our unshel­tered neigh­bors with dig­ni­ty and respect.”

“This cam­paign is over but our work con­tin­ues because the strug­gles peo­ple in Seat­tle face remain,” the out­go­ing City Coun­cil Pres­i­dent noted.

“Togeth­er, we shaped the con­ver­sa­tion on our city’s most press­ing issues, and May­or-Elect Har­rell made com­mit­ments in response to our pres­sure — to not crim­i­nal­ize pover­ty, to expand pro­gres­sive rev­enue sources, to demil­i­ta­rize the police and invest in alter­na­tive respons­es to pub­lic safe­ty calls, and to rapid­ly cre­ate appro­pri­ate shel­ter and not forcibly sweep the unhoused from pub­lic spaces.”

“As a strong pro­gres­sive move­ment, we need to con­tin­ue to orga­nize and work every day towards progress on cre­at­ing a more afford­able, just and safe city for us all. This will require us to build an inclu­sive and strong coali­tion that will serve to hold the next may­or and new City Coun­cil account­able to keep the Mayor-Elect’s cam­paign promis­es. After near­ly six hun­dred days of cam­paign­ing, I am look­ing for­ward to rest­ing, fin­ish­ing my sixth year of ser­vice on the City Coun­cil and writ­ing the next chap­ter of my pub­lic service.”

Har­rell, six­ty-three, will be sworn in as the city’s next chief exec­u­tive on Jan­u­ary 1st, 2022. He will suc­ceed Jen­ny Durkan, who chose not to seek anoth­er term.

Seattle Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell
Seat­tle May­or-elect Bruce Har­rell, pic­tured on Elec­tion Day 2021 after a meet and greet with vot­ers (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Har­rell spent more than a decade on the Coun­cil and briefly served as May­or for a few days in 2017 fol­low­ing Ed Mur­ray’s res­ig­na­tion. He was first elect­ed to the Coun­cil in 2007, and reelect­ed in 2011 and 2015. In 2019, he chose not to seek anoth­er term on the Coun­cil. He was also a can­di­date for May­or in 2013, chal­leng­ing Mike McGinn, but was elim­i­nat­ed in the August Top Two election.

“Bruce was raised in a red­lined Cen­tral Area home, the son of a Black father and a Japan­ese moth­er, who raised him to respect not only where he came from, but also to believe in what was pos­si­ble,” his cam­paign biog­ra­phy states.

“At the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton, Bruce (#55) was a 1978 Rose Bowl cham­pi­on and received the Most Valu­able Defen­sive Play­er Award. Bruce went on to law school and then worked in tech­nol­o­gy and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, lat­er rep­re­sent­ing work­ing peo­ple who expe­ri­enced work­place dis­crim­i­na­tion and sup­port­ing small busi­ness­es pro bono, help­ing minor­i­ty entre­pre­neurs pur­sue their dreams.”

Har­rell cam­paigned on the fol­low­ing priorities:

  • Bold ideas for eco­nom­ic recov­ery: Now is the time for big think­ing to put our city back on track and help reach our col­lec­tive potential.
  • End­ing home­less­ness: We need a May­or who will take imme­di­ate and deci­sive action – urgent­ly get­ting peo­ple out of parks and streets and into sta­ble hous­ing with the on-site ser­vices they need.
  • Pub­lic safe­ty & police reform: We can – and must – ensure effec­tive pub­lic safe­ty for all and address struc­tur­al racism and police bias.
  • Tak­ing on the cli­mate cri­sis: Seat­tle must set the exam­ple as America’s lead­ing cli­mate-for­ward city – and we can­not leave any­one behind.
  • Tran­sit, trans­porta­tion & infra­struc­ture: Access to afford­able, reli­able trans­porta­tion opens new doors and a city full of pos­si­bil­i­ties – we must expand tran­sit access and fix our decay­ing infrastructure.
  • Reduc­ing gun vio­lence: We must take action to reduce gun vio­lence in our city – treat­ing it like a pub­lic health cri­sis and respond­ing with urgency, data, and bold action.
  • Restor­ing arts & cul­ture: Arts are the lifeblood of thriv­ing com­mu­ni­ties. As May­or, I’ll work to dri­ve a rapid restora­tion of artis­tic promi­nence, oppor­tu­ni­ty, and acces­si­bil­i­ty – an effort inte­gral to a true recovery.
  • Health­care for all Seat­tle res­i­dents: No one in our city should live with­out access to health care – let’s come togeth­er and build a sys­tem show­ing our com­mit­ment to a healthy community.

Har­rell won the August Top Two elec­tion and led in every inde­pen­dent poll lead­ing up to the cur­rent gen­er­al elec­tion, includ­ing the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s Octo­ber 2021 sur­vey of the Seat­tle elec­torate. 48% of respon­dents to our sur­vey, con­duct­ed for NPI by Change Research, said they were vot­ing for Har­rell in mid-Octo­ber, while 32% said González and 18% were not sure. 

As of today’s returns, Har­rell has a 47,943 vote lead over Gon­za­lez, with 61.93% of the vote. González has 37.76% of the vote. There are also six hun­dred and thir­ty write-in votes for May­or (0.32% of the votes cast in the race). 

An esti­mat­ed 140,000 bal­lots remain to be tal­lied countywide.

Har­rell was endorsed by U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Adam Smith and Mar­i­lyn Strick­land, for­mer May­or Norm Rice, for­mer Gov­er­nor Gary Locke, and cur­rent Coun­cilmem­bers Deb­o­ra Juarez and Alex Ped­er­sen, along with NPI board­mem­ber Gael Tar­leton and a long list of oth­er elect­ed offi­cials. He was also backed by The Seat­tle Times, the North­west Asian Week­ly, and unions like IBEW Local 46.

Har­rell often speaks about his upbring­ing in Seat­tle and con­nects that to his vision for the city’s future, such as in his July 2021 inter­view with NPI’s Ruairi Vaugh­an.

“This city took some­one like me, whose par­ents did not go to col­lege, who grew up in the Cen­tral Dis­trict – in a poor­er part of the neigh­bor­hood at that time, in the six­ties,” Har­rell told Vaugh­an. “It took this lit­tle boy from pub­lic schools, raised him, and now I’m in a posi­tion to pos­si­bly be the may­or and cer­tain­ly have a viable can­di­da­cy. That’s what this city is about in my mind.”

“It took my Asian grand­par­ents and my Black grand­par­ents and allowed them to have a great liv­ing for them­selves and their fam­i­lies – that’s the Seat­tle I like.”

Har­rell has now gone from may­oral hope­ful to Mayor-elect. 

His admin­is­tra­tion will begin in a lit­tle less than two months, allow­ing time for a tran­si­tion team to form and get up to speed. Incum­bent May­or Jen­ny Durkan, who will be hand­ing the baton to Har­rell, says she’s ready to get start­ed. (Durkan did not make an endorse­ment of either can­di­date dur­ing the election.)

“I’ve extend­ed my sin­cere con­grat­u­la­tions to May­or-elect Bruce Har­rell,” said Durkan. “I’ve known Bruce for over thir­ty years, and I know as May­or he will work hard for the peo­ple of Seat­tle. Vot­ers showed their com­mit­ment to a just and hope­ful future for all Seat­tle res­i­dents. I know Bruce wants every fam­i­ly to thrive in Seat­tle. He will bring peo­ple togeth­er to tack­le the tough chal­lenges we face on COVID-19, home­less­ness, pub­lic safe­ty, and cli­mate change.”

“I hope all of Seat­tle joins to sup­port him in these crit­i­cal times.”

“Over the last twen­ty months, Seat­tle has faced the great­est chal­lenges of our his­to­ry, and our next May­or will need to be pre­pared to tack­le the cur­rent and unfore­seen chal­lenges on Jan­u­ary 1st, 2022. In recent months, our office has worked on a detailed tran­si­tion plan for the next May­or and will work close­ly togeth­er with the May­or-Elect towards a seam­less tran­si­tion for the busi­ness­es and res­i­dents of this great city and for our 12,000 incred­i­ble city employ­ees. We will make sure Bruce can suc­cess­ful­ly begin this impor­tant tran­si­tion now.”

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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