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Should Seattle Mayor Murray resign? Opinions vary widely

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (KOMO photo)

SEATTLE - Should Ed Murray continue to serve out the rest of his term as mayor of Seattle - or should he step down? That is the question roiling Seattle city politics as the mayoral election campaign picks up steam.

A growing number of voices are calling on the embattled mayor to resign, after recently unearthed evidence shows that an Oregon child-welfare investigator found Murray had sexually abused his foster son in the 1980s.

But Murray is picking up some supporters - including four former Seattle mayors - who say he should stay in office until his term ends in January 2018.

Murray himself so far has resisted calls for his resignation, saying he intends to serve out the remainder of his term. But he earlier dropped his bid to seek re-election.

Seattle City Councilmember M. Lorena González released a statement Monday repeating her concerns about Murray's ability to "simultaneously defend himself from public allegations of sexual abuse and to effectively serve our city as executive."

“In the absence of a resignation, I recommend that the City Council independently address issues related to either a voluntary or involuntary transition of executive leadership," she wrote.

González sent a letter last week urging Mayor Murray to step down. In response, Murray proposed something he called “innovative”: a joint Mayoral-Council transition committee to ensure a smooth transition to the next administration.

Monday several councilmembers, including González backed the proposal. Council President Bruce Harrell said the council will begin drafting a transition plan with the Mayor’s office. He says the council will also draft a succession plan in case the Mayor leaves office early, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

“It provides us both with an opportunity to have assurances and an independent understanding of whether the mayor is continuing to be effective in his role as mayor given his position that he will not resign,” Councilmember González said.

Among the voices calling on Murray to step down "immediately" is Seattle's LGBTQ commission, citing "mounting evidence" that he has repeatedly engaged in sexual abuse of minors.

The LGBTQ Commission's request, made in the form of a letter to the Seattle City Council dated Monday, says "we believe that he (Murray) should no longer serve as the leader of the city of Seattle." The letter also notes that four men have all come forward with personal experiences of abuse by Murray.

"We perceive Murray’s attempt to dismiss these claims as a 'politically motivated' monolithic issue of homophobia to be a maneuver that is divisive and damaging to our community," the LGBTQ Commission's letter states. "Claiming homophobic intent to shield himself from accountability and erase the experiences of survivors of sexual abuse is silencing, manipulative, and morally repugnant."

The LGBTQ Commission advises the Mayor, Council and departments about issues of concern affecting the Seattle lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community. It consists of 16 representatives, seven of whom are appointed by the mayor.

"Noting both that Murray is the first openly gay mayor of Seattle, and that many individuals on the Seattle LGBTQ Commission were appointed by him, we do not take our decision to call for his resignation lightly," the letter states. "While some may say that Murray should be given the opportunity to serve out the remainder of his term, we feel this would be inadequate. It is both a moral call to action and a pragmatic choice to seek his resignation."

Several mayoral candidates, including former Mayor Mike McGinn, also have called on Murray to resign, or to seriously consider it.

Meanwhile, Seattle City Council member M. Lorena González released a statement Monday repeating her concerns about Murray's ability to "simultaneously defend himself from public allegations of sexual abuse and to effectively serve our city as executive."

She wrote that the council should be prepared to take action under the Seattle City Charter if Murray refuses to resign voluntarily.

“In the absence of a resignation, I recommend that the City Council independently address issues related to either a voluntary or involuntary transition of executive leadership," she wrote.

At the same time, four former Seattle mayors have released a statement saying that Murray should be allowed to finish his term. The four - Wes Uhlman, Charles Royer, Norman Rice and Greg Nickels - say a transition to a replacement mayor months before a new one is elected would be "messy and time-consuming."

The foursome said they are "saddened by the recent allegations against Mayor Murray," and note that he has made the "honorable" decision to not seek re-election.

"We should now thank the mayor for his service and look forward to him coming to work every day on behalf of the people of Seattle throughout the remainder of his term," the prepared statement says.

Others, including Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell, also say Murray should be allowed to finish his term.

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