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We Are One Seattle – Inauguration Address

Remarks as prepared by Mayor Bruce Harrell at his ceremonial swearing in ceremony. Watch the event here and read remarks below:

Good Morning Seattle! Happy New Year!

I would like to begin by acknowledging members of my Executive Team who have answered the call of public service, lending their talent and education and life experiences to serve the residents of Seattle during one of its most challenging times.  

As many of you know, because of COVID and in particular the Omicron variant, we decided not to have a large gathering of hundreds in City Hall as we intended. Our plan was for me to display my vocal range with an acapella version of the national anthem followed by an inspiring rap, but after careful consideration, we decided that this more intimate—and public health appropriate—setting was better suited for a speech. 

In the past, we’ve witnessed new mayors —surrounded by family and loved ones—deliver impressive speeches here in City Hall, to a packed house of hard-working City employees, community leaders, friends and folks from all walks of life who want to participate in the energy and promise that marks a new administration. 

But 2022 is not like past years—we continue to grapple with a stubborn pandemic that limits our ability to gather and celebrate. From March 11, 2020, when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, we have too often lived in uncertainty and fear; fear to be around others; fear to shake someone’s hand; fear that our streets our unsafe; fear that Seattle has been heading in the wrong direction and can’t fix its problems; fear that our days in front of us hold less promise than those behind us. 

So today, I address my remarks not to an assembled crowd, but directly to you, the people of Seattle.

Starting today, we will lead this City obsessed with excellence and kindness, with inclusion and hope, with balance and optimism. We will reject and resolve attitudes of fear, pessimism, or cynicism. We will rise.   

Let’s start this journey together.  

Today, I’ll discuss some ideas about how we will reinvigorate our public spaces and elevate our small businesses; how we will restore the vibrancy of our arts, music, and cultural sectors. How we will be intolerant not of the people who are unhoused; but of the conditions that cause them to be unhoused. How we will come through this pandemic and take its lessons to help us improve in our healthcare, education and address disparities on a whole new level.

Today begins our journey to bring new energy and resources to address homelessness, public safety, gun violence, climate change.

We do this not by denigrating or shouting down those before us or around us. We listen—because there are so many who give their lives, commitment and passion to this work.   

As your Mayor, I will lead by example, making no excuses and implementing ideas that work; by being bold enough to innovate and take risks, and humble enough to embrace ideas put forth by others.

I love Seattle. I love the people in it. I love the water and air we are trying to clean; I love the salmon we are trying to protect and the children we are trying to safeguard.

I’m all in, and ready to get to work.

In fact, the entire Seattle Team is ready—we’re energized, we’re focused, and we’re not afraid. I’ve spoken to all 10,000 plus of the City Employees here to serve. Well, I sent them an email to be exact. 

But in my first message, I tried to impress upon them that we are all ambassadors for our City. I’m so grateful for their selfless service to the City these past two years. I want them to know they are a critical part of Seattle’s future—we each have a role to play.   

I want to thank members of the City Council and our transition team, who are joining virtually. I’ve had conversations with many members of the Council who are excited to work together. And our transition committee has done incredible work providing insight and ideas for our administration.

Here on the 7th Floor of City Hall, your Seattle Executive team is the most diverse in our City’s history, with unique lived and professional experience. Our three deputy mayors are all women of color—complemented by the City’s first Chief Equity Officer, herself an immigrant and woman of color. Be proud of that Seattle. I hope that you come to know their stories and how they overcame race discrimination, gender discrimination, LGBTQ bigotry, and yet rose to the level of top leadership and educational attainment. Their stories are your stories. 

And that goes for every member of our team standing with me today. Every single one of them overcame impediments to be the leaders that they are. I am proud of these nine individuals and the full roster of Cabinet members we have hired, elevated, or kept in service. In fact, we have a few more we will be announcing in the next week that we are also proud of.  

Together, from frontline workers to the mayor and City Council, we are here on Day One of this new administration to change the narrative of our City. Under the Harrell administration, Seattle will be thriving. We will end the talk of a “dying” city.  We will be a City of renewed optimism, a City that treats all with dignity, and appreciates the richness and diverse voices and perspective of our communities and people.

When I meet with neighbors, tour small businesses, and listen to folks from Lake City to Columbia City, I see a Seattle that embraces not only our shared progressive values, but a city of many religions, of many languages, of many cultures and origin stories. Yet, while we talk about being “progressive” or “liberal” or “inclusive,” I have yet to see the Seattle I know we can be.  

It is such an honor to continue this collective journey of who we are and what we can become. In many ways, this critical exploration of who we are as a City has helped define my life, just as it defined my desire to serve as your mayor.   

You elected a biracial Central Area kid who attended local public schools. For those who believe every kid deserves the opportunity to lead the City they love, you will have the opportunity to help. For those who are still cynical or oppositional, I welcome the opportunity to have a dialogue with you. For everyone, I simply ask that you give us a chance.     

If there is one thing, I believe in without pause, if there is one idea that I want left as my legacy, it will be that:      


One Seattle invites dialogue and learning, collaboration and cooperation, innovation and thoughtful change. 

We unite our City around a One Seattle vision when we confront inequities in racial and economic opportunity, environmental justice, homelessness, police, housing, affordability, and health equity.

We build One Seattle when we confront past evils like the Chinese Exclusion Act and Japanese Incarceration, historic wrongs like redlining and Black marginalization, and current crises like homelessness and public safety. 

We are One Seattle when we honestly believe we are all fighting for the same people in this City: People who want to live here; who want a living wage; who want better opportunities; who want to be free from violence; who want to save our planet.

That this is why we are serving the public. The people who are with me today and are part of the Harrell Cabinet would not take their jobs otherwise. 

We make progress toward a One Seattle vision—toward healing, reparation, and restoration when we reject slogans and mean tweets and commit to real dialogue. 

Here are a few elements of a positive One Seattle Vision that will define the early work of my administration:

In One Seattle, we all have health care.  

Working closely with our Chief Equity Office Adiam Emery and our Director of Strategic Initiatives Tim Burgess, we have begun discussions with health care facilities and interested civic leaders on making sure every resident in our City not only has health care but is healthy.  

Our “Healthy Seattle” has a goal of ensuring that Seattle has the healthiest population in the nation. We have begun discussions with experts who not only know how to measure this, but how to build it.

We are exploring new partnerships with health care leaders, community clinics and providers, and advocates for health equity to bring our Healthy Seattle vision to reality—leaving no one without coverage and care.

In One Seattle, we all feel safe and supported.

That’s why I will be working with safety and justice leaders, law enforcement professionals committed to culture change, and gun violence prevention leaders to reshape and redefine policing.

A safe and supported City employs the right kind and right number of police officers, and establishes unarmed, community-based responders we desperately need to restore trust and street-level safety.  

We do this by listening to communities and to neighborhoods when they say they want to feel safe and secure—without racial bias. I will ask each officer to help me build trust with all Seattle residents—providing a beacon of hope and healing for the nation.

Much of this work will build upon the decade-long leadership of Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell, a statewide champion for effective policing, de-escalation, and criminal legal reforms that restore lives and communities, without sacrificing safety. 

In One Seattle, we do not allow people to suffer on our streets and sidewalks.

That’s why I have created a dedicated Deputy Mayor in Tiffany Washington to focus solely on our homelessness response, step up regional coordination, and enhance our growing state partnerships. We will be showing visible progress in helping people into housing and services—with benchmarks and transparency—throughout this year. We will be publishing a plan during our first quarter and I look forward to working with the City Council, the community and other stakeholders in this regard.  

I’ve had discussions with King County Executive Dow Constantine and Governor Jay Inslee, and I am excited to call them my friends and colleagues. I will be issuing an Executive Order requiring a transparent plan and directing our utilities to proactively provide us information on utility shut offs which is often an indicator of homelessness vulnerability or human service needs. 

In One Seattle, we have affordable housing for all—and we support seniors, working families, and vulnerable people. 

That’s why I will issue an Executive Order demanding a full review of the permitting and approval processes—we have to expedite construction of affordable housing, as well as fill in gaps where zoning is already available for housing construction and density. Our Chief Operating Office Marco Lowe, who has not only deep experience in City Hall but also working in the housing industry, will lead this critical effort.

And as we embark on a citywide master plan update, we will look for opportunities for every neighborhood to help address the shortage of quality housing for every family, at every income level.

In One Seattle we all have access to parks and open space—and we combat climate change.

That’s why we will be hiring a new Parks director committed not only to restoring and enhancing our world class park system, but also investing in underserved neighborhoods—expanding parks and open space access and equity.

We will enhance green spaces and improve tree canopy in urban neighborhoods most at risk from warmer temperatures, and improve our sports and playfields so we can expand recreation opportunities in our growing city.  

Our Office of Sustainability and the Environment will be national leader in coordinating citywide climate policies that help us reaffirm our commitment to net zero emissions and embrace best practices in building and construction, transit and transportation, climate justice and a just transition for working people.

In One Seattle, every child, from every neighborhood, will have opportunities for education and the future they deserve. 

That’s why I am committed to building upon the mentorship and education programs I championed on City Council, especially for Black and brown youth too often lacking in services and support.  

We will look for ways to expand affordable childcare, and fully recognize how important the zero-to-five age range is for healthy child development.  

I am also excited about opportunities to partner with our schools and colleges to open more career pathways and provide emotional and behavioral support so desperately needed in challenging times.

We will also be exploring how we use our community centers and playfields as not only places to build sports and camaraderie and health, but how we see them as assets to improve education and safety.  

Let’s have a Vision Zero for child and youth mortality in Seattle; particularly as a result of violence.   

The Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools and I have begun discussions on what this looks like for our schools, and under Deputy Mayor Kendee Yamaguchi, you will see how we will work with our communities, our parks and community centers, and our first responders, to make sure we use all of the City’s assets to ensure our children are safe.

I used to walk to school as a child, and I remember having a coat that a bully wanted to take from me. Of course, iPhones and smart phones weren’t invented then, but I could outrun him, and eventually he gave up.

But today, kids are being threatened, beat up badly, and in some tragic instances killed for their possessions. The stakes have changed. We must be all in for protecting our kids and you will see and feel our work and commitment.     

These goals I have outlined are not mere aspirations—this is our mission as a City and administration.

Much of these policies will be shaped and led by Director of Policy Dan Eder. Under our administration, we don’t want to play small ball.  We will be creative and bold.

Seattle is a fast growing, and rapidly changing city. But we have always been a city that welcomes change—and embraces the future. 

We are a city that has grown and thrived at the edges of innovation—as a frontier Port, a gateway to Pacific trade, a pioneer in aerospace and technology, home to global brands and vibrant small businesses, a leader in arts, music, and culture. 

In our country, there are 88 cities named ‘Washington.”  There are 41 “Springfields.”   There are 35 “Franklins.”  But there is quite literally only One Seattle—a city built on the historic lands of the Duwamish people, named for its leader, and connected to the air, land and water in ways we must cherish and continuously acknowledge. 

Seattle is a unique and truly great city, but One Seattle doesn’t mean “Seattle is number one.” Our place, our pride, our greatness, is not contingent upon the subordinate position of others. It is measured by the examples we set, and how we lift ourselves, and others.

In One Seattle, we put in the work with humility, urgency, and compassion. 

As I close, and because I am physically looking at the members of the press, I want to recognize that you have a place in this too. The Journalist’s Creed, as written by Walter Williams in 1914, describes that you only write that which you believe to be true in your heart—that you be tolerant, never careless, self-controlled, patient and respectful. Those are important words for all of us.     

In One Seattle, we replace fear with love. We are stronger, together.  

Thank you, Seattle, for this opportunity.

Let’s get started!