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Seattle Mayoral Candidates React To Murray Resignation, Talk Homelessness In Debate

The first mayoral debate since the primary covered a range of issues important to Seattlites Tuesday evening at Seattle University.

But first, candidates were  asked about their reactions to the resignation of Mayor Ed Murray, announced earlier that day, after The Seattle Times reported on fifth man to accuse Murray of sexual abuse decades ago.

Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan was endorsed by Murray after he announced earlier this spring that he would not seek reelection. Unlike many other mayoral primary candidates, she stopped short of calling for his resignation until shortly before the announcement was made.

She said she had a conversation with Murray before the primary, telling him he needed to look carefully at whether he could continue to lead the city.

"This morning it was clear to me that he could no longer lead as mayor, and I called on him to resign. He chose to do so, and I think that was the right decision," Durkan said at Tuesday's debate.

Urban planner Cary Moon had called for Murray's resignation in May. On Tuesday, she said Murray's defense was "victim blaming."

"I think that using the bully pulpit of the mayor's office to defend yourself and demean and victim blame is a misuse of public trust. And I wish he had resigned sooner, but I'm glad he did today," Moon said.

Moon and Durkan then tackled questions about growth, affordable housing and homelessness.

The issue they were farthest apart on was how to handle unsanctioned homeless encampments. Durkan called them unsafe and said people should be moved out of them.

"There's been homicides, human trafficking, they're unhealthy. They are no place for people to be living," Durkan said.

Moon disagreed, saying she was against sweeping people out of encampments.

"I believe we need to go out, find the folks who are sleeping in unsafe places -- and it's not every encampment. There's a small percentage of them that are truly unsafe -- and go to those people with services," Moon said.

The debate was presented by the Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness and Solid Ground and sponsored by The Seattle Times and Crosscut.

Either Moon or Durkan will take office as soon as the election results are certified in late November instead of January in light of Murray's resignation.

Ballots will be sent out on Oct. 18.

Before accepting the position of News Director in 1996, she spent five years as knkx's All Things Considered Host and filed news stories for knkx and NPR. Erin is a native of Spokane and a graduate of the University of Washington and London's City University - Center for Journalism Studies. Erin worked in the film industry and as a print journalist in London and New York before returning to Seattle to work in broadcast news.