Seattle’s New Interim Mayor: Tim Burgess

by Kelsey Hamlin

It’s official, the city of Seattle has their new 55th mayor for 71 days. Councilmember Tim Burgess was nominated by the Seattle City Council this afternoon in a 5-1 vote.

Burgess himself could not cast a vote, and Councilmember Kshama Sawant was the only naysayer. She felt Burgess will not focus on homelessness, domestic violence, or workers as the budget approaches. Sawant additionally pointed out Burgess will likely support Seattle’s planned $149 million Seattle Police Department headquarters.

“The budget is where people put dollars to the rhetoric they profess all year,” Sawant said.

Nonetheless the remaining councilmembers expressed respect for Burgess. Two noted his integrity and Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who has known Burgess for 10 years, said he is solid, steady and dependable.

“This is certainly not the way anyone would have chosen to become the mayor of Seattle,” Burgess noted in his acceptance speech, “but it is where we’re at today.”

The Councilmember was nominated interim mayor as a result of previous Mayor Ed Murray’s resignation. Murray resigned after the most recent, and fifth, child sexual abuse allegation against him.

Before Burgess’ nomination and after Murray’s resignation, Council President Bruce Harrell, automatically became mayor but had five days to accept or decline the position. During his decision time, however, Harrell passed four Executive Orders, one among them regarding King County’s Family Justice Center or the “youth jail,” as protesters call it. The order will direct the city to either lease or build alternative facilities for holding incarcerated youth, some potentially outside of the city.

Burgess called his time on the Council a humbling experience and noted that, despite the seemingly endless amount of transitions in Seattle’s bureaucracy, work will continue.

“Tomorrow, we will come back to work and continue to serve the people of this city, not simply because we have to, but we want to,” he said. “Public service is a high calling, it is a worthy endeavor for all of us.”

Burgess stated Seattle will continue to be a “safe, fair and equitable city” serving not one group or another, but everyone. In that sense, he added he can’t do the mayoral work alone. He needs his family, colleagues, office team and city employees. Burgess then paid homage to the “strong, independent women” in his family.

At 5 p.m. today Burgess was officially sworn into the mayoral office.

Kelsey Hamlin is a freelance reporter with various Seattle publications. She graduated with interdisciplinary Honors, a B.A. in journalism and a minor in Law, Societies & Justice from the University of Washington. Hamlin served as President and VP for the UW’s Society of Professional Journalists over the past two years. Find her on Twitter @ItsKelseyHamlin or see more of her articles on her website.

featured photo by Alex Garland