Seattle Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell announced on Dec. 13 the first significant hires of his administration.
The news release boasted of a “diverse and experienced team of leaders that will support [Harrell’s] efforts to unify, inspire, and address the urgent challenges facing Seattle. Members of the team include civic leaders from inside and outside local government, bringing critical lived and professional experience to the issues the mayor-elect will address.”
If you look at the list provided, AAPIs are not that well represented.
Vinh Tang will be the technology and performance advisor, basically an Information Technology (IT) position. Mr. Mayor-elect, IT is unlikely to come up as a “community issue” and this position is not a senior or director level position, nor a direct report position.
We understand that this is just the first round of announcements, but this is underwhelming and disappointing. In contrast, outgoing Mayor Jenny Durkan appointed two deputy mayors of Asian American descent—Mike Fong and Shefali Ranganathan.
Harrell did appoint his niece as one of three deputy mayors. But Monisha Harrell is the only one of AAPI descent who has a direct report position. Tiffany Washington will fill a newly created position of deputy mayor of housing and homelessness, and the third deputy mayor of external relations will be hired later.
“I want that deputy mayor position to focus on what the residents and small businesses demanded from the City when they elected me,” said Harrell. “The deputy mayor of external relations will help build the external partnerships needed to deliver results in measurable terms.”
Perhaps that now-open deputy mayor position could go to an AAPI. There are many civic leaders to choose from, some of whom Harrell has already named to his transition team. This person could transition quite nicely into this new role.
Hundreds of AAPI community members and leaders gathered to celebrate Harrell’s victory last week in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. The party is over now, Mr. Mayor-elect. And the AAPI will hold you accountable.
Perhaps, as you look to fill Cabinet level positions, you will remember the importance of having AAPI representation.
To learn more about Harrell and his transition structure, go to