Seattle mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell showed up Sunday in The Seattle Times with an eight-page color insert sharing his bi-racial heritage and campaign vision of “One Seattle.”
The brochure looks a lot like a story in the Times Pacific Magazine, and features Seattle landmarks such as the Space Needle, the view of the city from Alki and not one but two totem poles. Harrell, who is among the top-four in polling leading up to the Aug. 6 primary, shares his family history in Seattle going back to his Japanese grandparents’ flower shop and car repair business. He also tells the story of his African-American grandparents who left the South in hopes of finding more opportunities in Seattle. Among the old, black-and-white photos is a picture of his father in a City Light hard hat next to an unsmiling white co-worker. Harrell, narrating his family story, notes that his father was given a chance to learn and improve his skills and was ultimately promoted into management.
The ad also features the silhouette of a bike rider. Harrell, a former corporate lawyer and two-term city councilmember, makes it clear he’s a different candidate than incumbent bike rider Mayor Mike McGinn. “Four years ago, we thought we elected a mayor who valued the diversity of opinion of Seattle’s residents. We didn’t know what he really valued was the fight, and not the results. The toll this mayor has exacted in terms of divisiveness has damaged our city. Our ability to work collaboratively and create trust with each other has eroded.” On the bike front, Harrell says, “It’s time to stop pitting bikes against cars as our current mayor does.”
Harrell’s campaign manager, his neice, Monisha Harrell, said the brochure cost $8,500 to produce and another $8,000 to print and stuff into the Sunday paper. She said Seattle Times readers tend to be primary voters who like spending time with their Sunday paper.
On the downside, the brochure perpetuates some of the confusion created around Harrell’s recent assertion that he would have challenged the U.S. Department of Justice’s finding that the Seattle Police Department routinely engaged in excessive use of force. That seemed to contradict his stance last spring when he joined with two other councilmembers and City Attorney Pete Holmes in urging McGinn to accept the findings and move forward with reform.
In the brochure, Harell says, “We now have a costly agreement without a clear baseline of facts which we are trying to improve. I will establish a baseline of how much unreasonable force has occurred and then implement technology such as body cameras to provide evidence of what we need to improve. We will adopt a culture of zero tolerance for unreasonable force.”
No mention of the numerous video-taped incidents of beatings and escalating confrontations, often against minorities, that formed the basis of the DOJ case for excessive use of force.
Another downside — the potential for the brochure to get lost in the slick of Sunday ads.