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M. Lorena González concedes Seattle mayoral race; Bruce Harrell headed to victory

By Alec Regimbal, SeattlePI


Bruce Harrell will become Seattle’s next mayor, making him the first Asian American to ever be elected to that office.

His opponent, M. Lorena González, conceded defeat Thursday. 

"With today’s ballot drop, it’s clear that Bruce Harrell will be the next Mayor of Seattle," she tweeted. "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."


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As more ballots from Tuesday's general election were counted Thursday, Harrell — the former city council president — solidified his lead over González, the current council president. Thursday's results showed Harrell winning 62% of the vote. The Associated Press called the race Thursday afternoon

There are roughly 67,000 ballots left to be counted from the City of Seattle. González would have to win just under 48,000 of them — roughly 70% of them — to win, making a comeback improbable but not impossible. 

Harrell jumped out to an early lead Tuesday after preliminary results showed him beating González by nearly 30 points.

“Thank you, Seattle! These results prove that we can and will change the narrative in this city by coming together, uniting around our shared values, and doing the work to move Seattle forward,” Harrell tweeted early Wednesday. “I can’t wait to get to started.”

There are turbulent times ahead for Harrell. Seattle is still reeling from the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic — the city was the first U.S. epicenter — and has been slow to heal from last year’s summer of raucous Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd.

Harrell’s predecessor, Mayor Jenny Durkan, faced severe criticism from the political right and left over her handling of the two issues, which lead to her decision to not seek reelection after serving only one term.

Harrell, a moderate from Seattle’s Centrist District, based much of his bid on addressing homelessness. A number of encampments proliferated in the city’s streets and parks last year after homeless shelters were shuttered amid the pandemic. He’s promised to utilize local and federal resources to get people off the streets and into stable housing with on-site services.

He also drew sharp contrast between himself and his opponent on the issue of policing. He repeatedly reminded voters that he was not on the Seattle City Council last year when the body — which included González — vowed to cut the city’s police budget in half. He took a goldilocks approach to the issue, acknowledging that an armed police response to 911 calls isn’t always necessary but maintained that the department needs to be adequately staffed in order to make residents feel safe.

So far, Harrell’s victory over González — who centered her candidacy around a tax on big businesses and the wealthy — does not look like an outlier in this year’s local elections.


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Each of the city’s progressive candidates are attempting to claw their way back from huge deficits against opponents who land further right on the political spectrum. Ann Davison, who ran for Lt. Governor last year as a Republican, is ahead of abolitionist candidate Nicole Thomas-Kennedy by 11 points in the race for Seattle City Attorney. Meanwhile, Freemont Brewing co-founder Sara Nelson is enjoying a healthy 15-point lead over attorney and nonprofit director Nikkita Oliver as the two vie for a vacant Seattle City Council seat.

General election turnout the year after a presidential election is historically low. In 2017, just 43% of King County voters and about half of Seattle voters turned in ballots.

It looks like turnout for this year is going to be eerily similar. As of Thursday, county election data showed that 43% of King County voters and just over half of Seattle voters had turned in ballots. Election officials forecasted 46% turnout for the election.  

Harrell, who graduated from Garfield High School in Seattle as his class’ valedictorian, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Washington. While there, he played inside linebacker for the Huskies and helped the team to a Rose Bowl win in 1978. He chose to go to law school instead of playing in the National Football League, and earned his juris doctorate from UW in 1984.

After stints in the technology, telecommunications and law fields, Harrell was elected to the Seattle City Council in 2007. He served on the council for 11 years — including four years as council president — before retiring in 2019. He briefly served as Seattle's acting mayor after former Mayor Ed Murray resigned amid a sex-abuse scandal. 

While a councilmember, he supported initiatives to mandate police body cameras in Seattle; regulate the use of drones and other surveillance measures by police; prohibit employers from requiring applicants to admit whether they have a criminal record on job applications; and bring back the Seattle Supersonics.

Harrell is the son of a black father and Japanese mother. He is 63 years old.


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Alec Regimbal is a politics reporter at SFGATE. He graduated from Western Washington University with a bachelor's degree in journalism. A Washington State native, Alec previously wrote for the Yakima Herald-Republic and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He also spent two years as a political aide in the Washington State Legislature.