Amid allegations of child sexual abuse, Seattle mayor declines to seek a second term

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Sep 18, 2017, 8:49:11 PM9/18/17
Saying that rape allegations against him fed into the “worst
possible” stereotypes of gay men, a somber Seattle Mayor Ed
Murray announced Tuesday that he would not seek another term in

“It tears me to pieces to have to step away,” said Murray, who
had been considered a near-cinch for a second term running one
of America’s most liberal cities, “but I believe it is in the
best interest of this city that I love.”

Faced with a lawsuit and the allegations of four accusers who
claimed Murray, 62, either paid for sex or raped them in the
1980s, the mayor, with husband Michael Shiosaki at his side,
said that standing for reelection — despite his commanding lead
and $200,000 war chest — would turn the campaign into more of a
spectacle than it already is.

“Any campaign for mayor must be about the future of the city….
It must be focused on these issues, not on a scandal, which it
would be focused on if I were to remain in the race,” he said.

The scandal, he added, “hurts those who have been victims of
abuse. It hurts my family. It hurts Michael. For these reasons,
I am announcing that I am withdrawing as a candidate for mayor.”

Typical election issues had already been drowned out by the
scandal. It unearthed both serious and bizarre accusations after
a civil lawsuit was filed last month by Delvonn Heckard, 46, a
Seattle-area man who claimed Murray sexually abused him as a
teenager. Three other men have come forth with similar claims
but are not part of the lawsuit.

To help substantiate his accusations, for example, Heckard told
reporters he remembered that the mayor had a mole in a specific
location on his genitals. To disprove that, the mayor announced
that he was examined by a doctor who could find no such mole.

Back-and-forths such as that — along with exaggerated claims by
Heckard’s attorney that led to a $5,000 ethics violation fine
against him, and Murray’s suggestion that because his accusers
had criminal records they weren’t to be believed — led the
Seattle Times and a Seattle alt-weekly, the Stranger, to urge
Murray to finish his term and leave office.

A former state legislator instrumental in pushing for passage of
gay rights laws, Murray said his accusers’ claims “paint me in
the worst possible historical portraits of a gay man…. The
allegations against me are not true and I say this with all
honesty and the deepest sincerity.”

Still, “I must admit that my heart aches. Since I was 12 years
old, politics was my dream … and I have the best job in
politics, the mayor of the city of Seattle.

“This lifelong love, this political career, this career that has
been my life, will come to an end Dec. 31,” he said as his voice
cracked. He will walk away from a political career that began
with his election as a high school student body president.

As Seattle's progressive mayor, he backed a new $15 minimum wage
law, was supported by both property developers and advocates for
the homeless, and pushed tax increases to pay for transit, parks
and affordable housing. More recently, he proposed a 1.75-cents-
per-ounce tax on sugary drinks to help fund educational programs.

He spoke Tuesday with what seemed a sense of both accomplishment
and relief before finally thanking his husband and supporters,
some of whom were teary-eyed.

Nearly a dozen mayoral candidates have announced their plans to
become the city’s 54th mayor, including the man whom Murray beat
in 2013, then-incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn.

Nikkita Oliver, an educator and activist, and Cary Moon, an
urban planner, are among the better-known candidates.

Seattle attorney Jenny Durkan, considered the first openly gay
U.S. attorney when appointed by President Obama in 2009 and
serving until 2014, is expected to file this week now that
Murray has exited the race.

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