VIDEO: Mayor Bruce Harrell’s first speech, envisioning ‘One Seattle’

(Seattle Channel recording of this morning’s event)

11:05 AM: Two months after Seattle voters elected him, Mayor Bruce Harrell is now in office, and right now you can see his first speech as it happens – following a ceremonial swearing-in – by clicking into the Seattle Channel stream above. We’ll be publishing topline notes below.

He opens by saying “2022 is not like past years”- it’s not a time to open with exuberance but to acknowledge it’s been a fearful time for people, including fear that “Seattle is going in the wrong direction.” He promises an “obsession” with competence and kindness. He says – in first mentioning the homelessness crisis – that the city will be intolerant “not of the people who are unhoused but of the conditions that caused them to become unhoused.” He says, “We’ll implement ideas that work.” He declares, “We are not afraid.” He discusses the diversity of his executive team, including “three deputy mayors who are women of color.”

Looking to the future – “Seattle will be thriving – no more of this ‘dying’ narrative,” Harrell insists. “Everyone will have an opportunity to help us.” His request for the cynical: “Give us a chance.” He wants the city to be “one Seattle.” He says it’s time to move toward “healing and reparation and restoration” and “a real dialogue.” He promises “health care for all … we’ll make sure every resident in our city not only has health care but is healthy.” This will involve partnership with providers and he says talks are under way. Also: He promises everyone will feel “safe and supportive,” from gun-violence prevention to police accountability. He says Seattle has the chance to set a national example. Then regarding homelessness, he says “One Seattle” doesn’t let people suffer on its streets and promises to publish a plan “within the first quarter,” with an accompanying executive order.He mentions another executive order to review processes to expedite “affordable housing” construction.

He also says the city will be hiring a new Parks director (if that means the current superintendent is leaving, that’s the first time it’s been mentioned). Also, a new mentorship program in which he says the city will partner with Seattle Public Schools. He says that also will address violence and protect young lives. “We must be all in for protecting our kids.”

He promises that these aren’t just empty promises – they’re policy commitments. “We’re not going to play small ball,” says the former athlete. He also notes that “One Seattle” doesn’t mean bragging that Seattle is “number one” but rather unity that includes humility. “We will replace fear with love,” he promises in closing.

11:28 AM: It’s on to media Q&A. First asks about his creation of a Chief Equity Officer position. That will include “new outreach strategies,” especially for “small BIPOC businesses,” and ensuring that good-paying jobs are accessible to all.

Will he keep Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz? Harrell says that hasn’t been decided yet, but “discussions” are continuing.

Asked to elaborate on “health care for all,” the mayor says they’re starting with addressing those who don’t have health care – so they’ll start by formulating a plan for those people within a few months.

Asked about his political position, he refutes the suggestion that he’s not “progressive” – “I ran on a progressive agenda … This is what progressive policy looks like. … My plea to those who claim to be the progressives, give us a chance and let us work together.”

Asked about the shortage of COVID testing and parents’ anguish in deciding whether to send kids to school, he says the city is partnering with the state and county, but has no new specifics, promising an “inventory” of how things are working.

Will he extend the eviction moratorium? “We’ll announce that in due time” – within the next week – he says, noting that “small landlords” are at risk as well as tenants. The decisionmaking process will include looking at whether the moratorium “worked.”

When will people see a difference in addressing homelessness? He promises “real progress in a short time” as well as more clarity with existing data – so that it’s easier to understand where people live now, and what’s happening.

11:45 AM: The event wraps up. We’ll add the recorded video above when it’s available. (Note: Video added at 12:20 pm – if you can’t see the embedded version above, go to this Seattle Channel page.)

5 PM UPDATE: We asked the mayor’s office about the “parks director” reference. They replied that superintendent Jesús Aguirre is “retiring from the office later this month.”

33 Replies to "VIDEO: Mayor Bruce Harrell's first speech, envisioning 'One Seattle'"

  • Rick January 4, 2022 (11:39 am)

    More of the same sh*t.

  • Jort January 4, 2022 (12:03 pm)

     “Seattle will be thriving – no more of this ‘dying’ narrative,” Harrell insists.  That’s pretty cynical, since members of his own staff were largely responsible for creating that stupid, untrue narrative. It reminds me of somebody who declared in his own inauguration speech that the United States was filled with “American carnage” but followed up by helpfully saying, “I alone can fix it.” In other words, “Here is an imaginary problem I’ve invented and convinced you to believe in and, guess what, I’m going to make it go away!” 

    • Pedro January 4, 2022 (1:19 pm)

      Jort – the “Seattle is Dying” narrative is not a manufactured concept. Have you seen the homeless in the streets? It is very much a real thing.  And the attempt to somehow align a far left of center politician like Bruce with the likes of Trump is intellectual dishonesty at its worst. In short, let’s get real. We’ve got a real homeless problem that the current City Counsel approach has only made worse. If you let people do what they want without consequences and regardless of the other options offered or available to them, you get what we have now. Lawless chaos with tents, garbage, needles, and human waste on sidewalks and in parks, with theft, prostitution, and drug dealing running wild. 

      • SpencerGT January 5, 2022 (8:22 am)

        I don’t think that Seattle is dying because of the conditions downtown.  I think that Seattle is dying because young people can’t afford to live here.

    • HS January 4, 2022 (1:39 pm)

      That is incorrect Jort. That narrative was circulating years ago, referenced often within very conservative talk shows/groups and Twitter. Then given a big “bump” in 2019 by a non-objective, my opinion, “documentary” of the same name. I’d like to thank my very conservative family members for calling me in 2018 and encouraging me to sell my house because Seattle was dying and they feared for my safety. Yet, here I am, alive and thriving in West Seattle.

      • Jort January 4, 2022 (2:49 pm)

        Yes, and it was circulating in right-wing media (like local Sinclair propaganda television outlet KOMO) because Scott Lindsay and Tim Burgess (current senior Harrell staffers) worked hard for many years to make it so. They have brazenly fueled the flames of this narrative for years now, so for Bruce Harrell to come in and say this in his first speech truly is cynicism at its worst.

    • NotAllTrumpComparisonsAreAccurate January 4, 2022 (2:09 pm)

      Comparing Bruce Harrell to the disgraced former president is nonsense. Seattle faces profound challenges in areas of homelessness, economic recovery, and public safety; the mayor is committed to bringing people together to solve these problems instead of pretending he’s the only one who can fix anything. I encourage you to join other Seattleites in finding common ground to ultimately fix these problems, without resorting to character assassination.

  • JenB January 4, 2022 (12:19 pm)

    Blah blah blah 

  • Y January 4, 2022 (12:34 pm)

    Health care for all?   Is that really the job of the mayor?    There is a lot of work to do Bruce, I encourage you to focus on the things you can control, such as :- getting the homeless off the streets- putting criminals behind bars- cleaning up the garbage, graffiti, etc. that is everywhere

    • West Seattle Mad Sci Guy January 4, 2022 (2:00 pm)

      Pretty sure San Francisco has this at the city level. I believe since around 2007.

    • bill January 4, 2022 (3:09 pm)

      Serious criminals (felonys) are prosecuted by the county. There’s not much a mayor can do there.

    • SpencerGT January 5, 2022 (8:31 am)

      It wouldn’t be the worst idea, as long as it doesn’t cost too much.

  • 935 January 4, 2022 (1:27 pm)

    So… In other (non) words… “My plan is my plan. Any questions you have about it can be answered. I am going to plan on doing some things. I don’t have a plan yet but everything is under consideration. But I can tell you – there are things that you are going to be told.. And they are the truth. Except when they’re not. BUT!!! We are One Seattle”

    smh… More of the same.

    Thank you Y… How is the mayor of a mid-size city going to provide “healthcare for all”

    • Jort January 4, 2022 (2:50 pm)

      Bruce seems to be partaking heavily from the “Toxic Positivity” cup. When people have disagreements with your policies and you wave them off by saying, “they’re not being optimistic and positive enough,” you’re engaging in a cult of toxic positivity. It’s what CEOs try to force their wage-earners to believe as a way to invalidate criticism.

  • AMD January 4, 2022 (1:31 pm)

    Bruce was all talk as a councilmember, so more talk as mayor is not really impressing me.  Hopeful there might be action at some point in the next four years, but not holding my breath.

  • James January 4, 2022 (1:50 pm)

    Blah blah blah. Same old copy of the previous few mayors. Nothing changes to truly help the homeless. Just more sweeps and no taxing of the big corporations in town actually ruining Seattle.

    • WW Resident January 4, 2022 (5:57 pm)

      Please, for the love of God, please tell me how taxing big corporations is going to help people? We spend over 100 million on homeless a year and where are we at? You think a hundred more will do it? Two hundred? You have no idea how absolutely inept the government is in “solving problems” and spending your tax dollars is. It would blow your mind if you knew. I have seen it first hand and go ask any city worker who is honest and they’ll tell you the same

  • StopCuttingDownTrees January 4, 2022 (1:51 pm)

    The only thing good about this inaugural speech is that is wasn’t delivered by Lorena Gonzalez.

    • Brian January 4, 2022 (3:34 pm)

      Spite politics ain’t a good look my man. 

    • WS Guy January 4, 2022 (5:19 pm)

      Good one!  100% true!

      • Barton January 5, 2022 (3:23 pm)

        So very true.

    • anonyme January 5, 2022 (6:54 am)

      Great comment, SCDT!

  • Lucy January 4, 2022 (2:22 pm)

    Yes.  More of the same thing please.  

  • aa January 4, 2022 (4:36 pm)

    Listening to the news I realized how exhausted I am of politics.  The years of fighting all down the ranks.  From the white house all the way to this blog.  I honestly don’t have faith in anything said in a speech.  I hope Bruce Harrell can implement changes that improve our city.  I know it will take all of us.  If each of us picked one thing to do to improve our city.  Volunteer to pick up garbage once a month in your neighborhood, help at a food bank, donate money to a charity, foster or adopt an animal, visit a senior center, make regular calls to a friend  who lives by themselves, run for city council, sit on the board of a non profit org., foster or adopt a child.  All sorts of things we can do that is better for our world than griping about things never changing. 

  • SEADOG January 4, 2022 (5:02 pm)

    That’s why I will issue an Executive Order demanding a full review of the permitting and approval processes—we have to expedite construction of affordable housing, as well as fill in gaps where zoning is already available for housing construction and density. “

    This guy gets it. Talk to any builder and they’ll tell you that the permitting process in Seattle is glacial.  Bruce is the first politician I have ever heard acknowledge that.I’m happy that we have someone running this city who is cut from the same cloth as Norm Rice and Charlie Royer — two of our greatest mayors.

  • Sixbuck January 4, 2022 (5:11 pm)

    Hide your wallets!

  • Vanessa January 4, 2022 (5:46 pm)

    I wonder if the Mayor or his staff reads any of the commentary on sites like this? It should be good to have him hear what the people are saying, don’t you think?

    • WSB January 4, 2022 (7:11 pm)

      We’ve had elected officials and their staffers commenting over the years, and likely some reading without commenting. In general, electeds need to be aware of what’s being covered by publications beyond the daily citywide newspaper – TR

  • Mj January 4, 2022 (6:44 pm)

    James – the City has one of the highest minimum wages in the Country.  I thought the purpose was to enable people to make enough to be self sufficient and help themselves.

  • Smoosh January 5, 2022 (9:20 am)

    I know you all are super hopeful the new mayor will solve global income inequality and the local issues it creates (like robust petty crime and homelessness in moderate climates) but can we have someone figure out how to get the garbage trucks to run?

  • wetone January 6, 2022 (12:00 pm)

    I heard very little in his speech that made me feel positive as a life long Seattleite, blue collar worker and property owner. What I did get from his speech was expect property taxes, tolls, sales tax and many other cost to rise for covering his large staff, (so Seattle gov) issues dealing with homeless, free healthcare idea and more. I think many of his ideas he mentioned will only bring more homelessness to our city. This city needs to spend big money on metal health as in past and hold one accountable for their actions, no matter who they are.  Heard little on maintaining or updating current infrastructure along with helping those that live and work here move forward instead of falling backwards. Bruce Harrell was the original city counsel member that got this city headed on the path we are today and then bailed. He has a lot to prove before I will have any faith in him………….and I voted for him, thinking he was best choice. Sad times in Seattle……

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