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.
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.”