Community Post

From Garfield to City Hall, Harrell makes CD-based run for mayor

Bruce Harrell - Seattle Mayoral Candidate 2013Bruce Harrell will be on home turf tonight as he joins six other mayoral candidates for the Juneteenth Mayoral Candidates Forum. Recent polls put Harrell in a four-way race with incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn, Peter Steinbrueck, and Sen. Ed Murray.

CDN sat down with Harrell this week at his 23rd and Union corner office to talk about the Central District and his candidacy to unseat McGinn in November.

First, the basics. Harrell’s background is the sort a novelist would conjure for a homegrown Seattle politician. He was born and raised three blocks from his campaign office. As a child he walked to the now-closed T.T. Minor Elementary and Meany Middle schools. He was valedictorian at Garfield High School, and then went on to win a Rose Bowl as a leading defensive player for the University of Washington.

After a decade in corporate law with telecommunication company US WEST, now Qwest, Harrell went into private practice. In 2007 Harrell was elected to the Seattle city council, where public safety has been his number one issue.

“I grew up in a city where you can walk during the evening as a young person and feel safe,” he said. “Now I walk in many areas and I don’t feel safe. That’s unacceptable.”

Inevitably a discussion of public safety in the Central District turns towards Justin Ferrari, the 42-year-old father shot and killed in the crossfire of two teens at the intersection of East Cherry Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Harrell said Ferrari’s death last year is Seattle’s worst nightmare, but that the city has failed to address the underlying causes of the tragedy. Harrell has criticized McGinn for not including more civic and religious groups in the fight against street violence, and vows to do more on that front.

Harrell’s most concrete public safety initiative is to equip police officers with body cameras.

He also wants Seattle to “set the precedent of what strong gun control should look like.” First, the state legislature would have to allow cities to set their own gun control ordinances. Harrell said once that happens, he wants police to have the authority to confiscate weapons if they suspect someone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He would also mandate all firearms are stored in a lock-box and require background checks on every firearm transaction.

While the debate over the size and pace of neighborhood density continues on Capitol Hill, Harrell said he wants to see more density in the CD. He’s mostly in favor of apodments – the small, dorm-style apartments – and getting aggressive on allowing for higher buildings.

What he doesn’t want is big-box retail, which he said would lead to gentrification.

“You want small businesses here, you want home based businesses here. That’s how you avoid a completely gentrified area.”

16 thoughts on “From Garfield to City Hall, Harrell makes CD-based run for mayor

  1. It will be interesting to see his position on the rezone where his office is. NC2 to NC3 which going from smaller retail to big-box retail which he says he is against.

    • Nope, it’s just a profile. We don’t typically make endorsements. We plan to have more interviews with the other candidates; Harrell is particularly relevant given his office is in the CD and he grew up in the neighborhood.

  2. I hope Steinbruck and Murray make it through the primary. Definitely not McGinn. From past experiences Harrell represents everyone but his constituents. So far he’s done nothing valuable as chair of the public safety commission.

  3. Big box = gentrification, this guy needs a basic urban planning and urban design class and some experience in how to restore a economically impacted neighborhood. To use the term “gentrification” is devisive and sets up unfounded fear of true neighborhood improvement and incites racial reactionary toughts and actions. We need large retail anchors to bring shoppers that also will support small businesses, a true mix of retail scale, real basic stuff. We could have had that at the Goodwill ste several years ago but the the false fear, lies and self agrandizement of a couple people ruined the econimic chance the area had for needed retail. That will not happen again. I do agree with his apodment support, that shows some understanding of needed density and providing a rich choice of lifestyle choices in a city environment. His use of the “G” word, that lost my vote or support.

    • Gentrification itself is divisive, it has nothing to do with using the term. Just because you think something’s an improvement, doesn’t mean families aren’t being pushed south and out of the city because they can no longer afford the rents or the property taxes.

      • It depends on the family, doesn’t it? If you own a house that you paid 17k for in the 70’s, and can now sell it for 600k, that’s a pretty sweet deal.

        If you are a senior citizen who is income eligible, you can get up to 50% off your property taxes, and 60% on your city utilities, and stay in your nest egg as long as you want.

        But it is inevitable that property values in the CD will rise. The proximity to both downtown Seattle and downtown Bellevue make it so.

  4. I am not a fan of his ideas for gun regulation but lets be honest here anybody would be better than our current mayor. Mcginn is a moron.

  5. There is nothing wrong with gentrification. Only guaranteed way to make a neighborhood safer.

  6. I’ve heard gunfire down the street at least once a month since I moved onto 23rd and union. Any candidate that’ll stop treating the Seedy as a third world borough can have my vote. If the lunatics who vote in this city insist on concealed carry being acceptable, I say we go all in and actually have some goddamn patrols before the gun fire starts. May as well fight armed idiots with armed folks that are on my payroll.