By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
SEATTLE — “No excuses, the buck stops here. The problems that need to be solved… they’re on our shoulders, they’re on MY shoulders.”
Bruce Harrell officially announced his campaign for Seattle mayor at a press conference on March 16, surrounded by his family and supporters.
The former city council member and only Seattle mayor of Asian descent told the Northwest Asian Weekly, “My record proves I can bring diverse ideologies and backgrounds together to achieve real progress. That’s what Seattle needs at this moment—a unifier who will work with others to rise above the division, find common ground, and get to work addressing the challenges we face.”
Harrell announced his campaign outside Garfield High School, where he graduated as valedictorian before attending the University of Washington (UW). He grew up in a redlined Central area home with his father, Clayton Harrell, Sr. who’s Black, and his Japanese American mother, the former Rose Tamaye Kobata. They met through Quincy Jones who attended Garfield’s music program with the elder Harrell.
Bruce Harrell went to UW on a football scholarship, playing linebacker, and graduating with a passion for advancing the rights and opportunities of those left behind. He attended law school, worked in technology and telecommunications, and later represented working people who experienced workplace discrimination and helped minority entrepreneurs pursue their dreams.
First elected to the city council in 2007, then re-elected in 2011 and 2015, Harrell was the first council president of Asian descent since Liem Tuai in the 1970s. He also served for four days as Seattle mayor after Ed Murray stepped down. Since leaving the city council, Harrell said he returned to private practice to expand affordable housing for low-income Seattleites.
If elected mayor…
Harrell promises a smarter approach to invest in neighborhoods.
“Seattle is divided into seven Council districts, but we have yet to change our core neighborhood investment strategy. I will explore appropriating real resources—$10 million dollars would make an impact—in each of the seven districts to provide Councilmembers with the opportunity to work directly with their communities… Each district has unique needs, and each Councilmember will work collaboratively with City departments to meet those unique needs, working closely with the community.”
We, as a city, can and must address structural racism and police bias, while ensuring public safety, said Harrell.
“We’re going to change the narrative and create a police department we all can be proud of.”
In addition to state-mandated reforms in training, techniques, and conduct, Harrell wants every sworn police officer in Seattle to watch the 8 minutes and 46 seconds of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis and voluntarily sign an open letter stating: The Inhumane Treatment of Fellow Human Beings Will Not Be Tolerated In Seattle.
“The ‘us’ vs ‘them’ conversation is not working. We must start from the common baseline that every human being deserves respect and dignity.”
“The homelessness crisis devastates not only the lives of those suffering on our streets and in our parks, but it affects the safety and peace of mind for too many Seattle families…. I believe we need to tap into our greatest and most important asset—our community. As mayor, I’ll create a new model that, in addition to using city resources, allows neighbors and nonprofits to contribute their time and money to solving this challenge. There are no quick fixes to this crisis, but we know strategies that provide immediate shelter, personalized case management, and long-term care and treatment work. Let’s do this together.”
The Northwest Asian Weekly Foundation honored Harrell in 2018 as a Top Contributor to the Asian community for his three decades of community service. You can read more about his background here at:
Ruth can be reached at email@example.com.