HomeEast Asian AmericanSeattle’s First Asian American Mayor is Sworn in

Seattle’s First Asian American Mayor is Sworn in

by Janelle Kono, AsAmNews Contributor

Bruce Harell made history this morning when he was sworn in as Seattle’s first Asian American mayor.

Harell was sworn in by city clerk Monica Martinez Simmons. It is his second day as Seattle’s 57th mayor, having officially entered the role on January 1st of this year. 

Despite plans of a larger, more public ceremony, today’s inauguration was limited to Harell’s family, his Executive Team and essential staff, and the press, in light of the rapidly spreading omicron cases. 

Mayor Harrell’s electoral win comes as a historic move toward representation for the city. Despite Seattle’s relatively high percentage of Asian Americans at just over 15% according to the US Census Bureau, Harell is the first mayor of Asian descent and the second Black mayor elected by the city.

Harrell proudly addressed his biracial identity at his swearing-in ceremony.

“You elected a little biracial, central area boy who attended your public schools,” he said. “For those of you who believe every kid deserves the opportunity to lead the city that they love, I am an example of that.” 

Harell’s nine members of the Executive Team who stood with him reflect the diversity he is highlighting in his administration. He touted his team as the most diverse executive team in the city’s history, in particular highlighting his three deputy mayors who are all women of color, and the first-ever chief equity officer, Lisa Woods, who is both an immigrant and a woman of color.

“I hope that you come to know their stories and how they overcame discrimination … and yet rose to the top level of leadership and education attainment,” Harrell said. “These are your stories – these are our stories, and that goes with every member of the team standing with me today.”

Of the plethora of issues facing Harell and his team, the focus of Harell’s vision shared today centered around providing health care for all, increasing affordable housing for the many unhoused individuals in the city, and building trust between law enforcement and the community. 

“Thank you, Seattle, for giving this little boy from the Central District this chance to lead this city,” Harell said. “Thank you for this opportunity, and we’re ready to get started.”

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