News :: Politics

Gay Washington Senator Announces Run for Seattle’s Mayor

by Shaun Knittel
Contributor
Monday Dec 10, 2012
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Washington State Sen. Ed Murray (D-43) announced on December 5 he’s formed an exploratory committee to look into the possibility of being elected Seattle’s next mayor. If Murray decides to go for it, he would challenge the current Mayor, Mike McGinn, in the 2013 election.

"I’m not going to sit here and tease people. I’m not going to play that game. It’s my intention to run," he told reporters during a December 4 interview in downtown Seattle.

At a news conference on Capitol Hill, Murray told a crowd of cheering supporters he is running not to make history by becoming the first gay mayor of Seattle instead; he insists he is running to "get things accomplished."

Last week Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess threw his hat into the ring, becoming the first high-profile candidate to announce he will run for mayor. Murray, whose been rumored as a possible mayoral candidate for years, represented Seattle’s 43rd Legislative District since 1995, first in the House and now in the Senate.

He’s got some definite pluses going into the election. He’s easily the most experienced politician to consider the Seattle mayor’s race and his recent voter approval of same-sex marriage -- a cause that he has championed ever since he entered politics some 20 years ago -- gave him national stature in Washington as a civil-rights leader.

According to the Seattle Times, Murray started his career as an aide to Seattle City Councilmember Martha Choe, served as chairman of both the state House Transportation Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and has earned a reputation for working across the aisle.

He and his longtime partner, Michael Shiosaki, live on Capitol Hill, Seattle’s cultural and historical LGBT neighborhood.

There are two hurdles to clear before formally becoming a candidate. Murray told supporters he would have to corral more support in Seattle and lead the Senate Democrat caucus through the next legislative session. He must get this done before July if he wants to stay a possible mayoral candidate.

State law freezes fundraising for state lawmakers 30 days before the legislative session starts, and the ban lasts until they conclude business. What that means for Murray is that he can reach out during the next few months to neighborhood groups as well as business and civic leaders to gauge support, but cannot raise money.

"Do I think a good number of people will come and help and support, yes, but, man, I cannot take it for granted," Murray said. "Burgess is a solid council member. McGinn is the last person I would write off. This is the guy who defeated an incumbent mayor. I have some work to do before I can have a full campaign for mayor."

Murray has an extensive agenda if he runs for election and wins. His top priority is the police department.

"We need to support our police officers but we also need to move this police department forward beyond these problems," he said referring to the U.S. Department of Justice’s oversight of the Seattle Police Department.

"We’ve got great cops, but we have a problem at the top in terms of leadership. This is not a functional department, and the issue of leadership rests entirely, unlike any other part of city government, with the mayor. I’d like to get a handle on that."

Shaun Knittel is an openly gay journalist and public affairs specialist living in Seattle. His work as a photographer, columnist, and reporter has appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the Pacific Northwest. In addition to writing for EDGE, Knittel is the current Associate Editor for Seattle Gay News.

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