MAYOR IN WEST SEATTLE: Report #1 – Fairmount Park Elementary visit

Mayor Bruce Harrell is just wrapping up almost 3 hours in West Seattle. It was a two-part visit, so we’ll present two reports, starting with his first stop, Fairmount Park Elementary, where Seattle Public Schools superintendent Dr. Brent Jones joined him (top photo). It’s Teacher Appreciation Week around the visit, so the mayor stopped in two classrooms – first, Molly Sisson‘s third-graders, who sang their class song:

“That song was FIRE!” enthused Harrell, who has three children and two grandchildren and was in full dad mode as he interacted with the students. They had questions, too – “can you make laws?” (no, but he can propose them) – “what’s your favorite part of the city?” (diplomatically, he said he couldn’t choose just one part of Seattle’s 84 square miles) – “have you visited Ukraine?” (no, but he recently met with five Ukrainian mayors, and pronounced them “such brave people”).

The visit was coordinated by the Fairmount Park PTA, whose president, Alicia Saka (below right), helped usher the mayor around. Also present was her husband, City Council District 1 candidate Rob Saka, and city Education and Early Learning director Dr. Dwane Chappelle.

In Becky Christl’s fifth-grade classroom, no song, but the students had more questions. What’s his favorite book? “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell. Does he like pizza? Yes, pepperoni and cheese. Then one student wanted to know why Harrell had turned down a chance to go to Harvard. He said he didn’t want to leave Seattle, although he advised, “If you ever get accepted to Harvard, you might want to (go).” A few questions about his job, too:

What’s the most cause for reflection? “Recruiting good police officers” and finding shelter for people living in tents. How does he plan on “reactivating downtown Seattle”? He said it’s important to get treatment for people with drug problems, but overall, it’s vital to make downtown “cool.” He was also asked for an autograph.

At one point, the mayor described his work to students as, “My job is to keep you safe.” That duty came more into view on the second part of the visit, a walking tour stopping at five Junction businesses. We’ll have that part of the story later. The mayor’s staff says today’s visit is part of a series of “Community Connections” tours that also have taken him to the University District, Capitol Hill, Beacon Hill, and Lake City.

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