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Transitions To Continue At Seattle City Hall With New Mayor, Council Member

Parker Miles Blohm
Jenny Durkan declares victory in the Seattle mayoral race at an election party Nov. 7, 2017, at the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle.

After Ed Murray's resignation as Mayor of Seattle, there was a series of transitions as council members took over the city's highest office, returned to the council, and an interim council member was appointed. In a couple weeks, Seattle City Hall is going to do it all over again.

Mayor-elect Jenny Durkan and incoming City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda will be sworn into office after election results are certified on Nov. 28. Newly elected city officials would typically take office in January.

The quick turnaround means Durkan and Mosqueda aren't just thinking about campaign promises anymore.

"I'm also looking as to how we get this government stood up by November 28th and moving on," Durkan said at a press conference last week.

At that conference, she announced the three co-chairs of her transition team. Durkan has since announced a 61-member committee, which met for the first time Thursday. 

The committee has been charged with helping the mayor-elect develop short-term policy proposals around several key areas including housing, homelessness and social justice. It includes representatives from advocacy groups, service providers, businesses and the labor community.

In addition to developing policies and practices, Durkan and Mosqueda will have to learn about city procedures. As mayor, Durkan will be managing some 11,000 employees in about 35 different departments. Mosqueda will be balancing several legislative priorities.

"You know the information is so important whether it's what you need to know about managing your public records, what you need to know about process -- process is so key in this environment," said Seattle City Clerk Monica Martinez Simmons.

The clerk's office is like the air traffic controller of local government. It keeps city officials and the public informed on what the city is doing and how they should be doing it.

With the short turnaround for getting these new elected officials into office, the clerk's staff have been very busy. 

In addition to making sure Durkan and Mosqueda have the materials and tools they need, they're also in charge of planning outgoing officials' farewells and oath of office ceremonies.

"You just need to be on your toes. Fortunately we have all of the resources organized well," Martinez Simmons said. "It's significant coordination with the outgoing council member, the outgoing mayor and the incoming council member and mayor."

Durkan will be Seattle's fourth mayor this year, taking the reigns from Tim Burgess, who was appointed by his colleagues to the position after Council President Bruce Harrell declined to remain mayor shortly after Murray's resignation in September. Mosqueda will be taking Burgess' former seat on the council, which is being temporarily filled by organizer Kirsten Harris-Talley. 

Murray resigned amid allegations of sexual abuse decades ago, which he denies.

Durkan and Mosqueda will actually take the oath of office twice: first in November to fill out the rest of Murray and Burgess' terms and then again in January along with other local officials elected this year, such as Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez and City Attorney Pete Holmes.

A Seattle native and former KNKX intern, Simone Alicea spent four years as a producer and reporter at KNKX. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University and covered breaking news for the Chicago Sun-Times. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times.