Mayor Murray announces passing of former mayor Paul Schell

Paul SchellIt is with great sadness that Mayor Murray announces the passing of Seattle’s 50th mayor, Paul Schell, who served from 1998-2002. Schell died this morning surrounded by family and friends at Swedish Hospital. He was 76 years old.

Schell will be remembered as one of the great city builders of the Pacific Northwest. As a citizen activist, lawyer, director of community development, port commissioner, dean of architecture and mayor he directly shaped the civic infrastructure of Seattle for more than 40 years.

Schell’s greatest professional accomplishment has been the infrastructure that he built and influenced. The first Libraries for All campaign was a brainchild of Schell’s, establishing and building a new downtown library and rebuilding branches throughout the city. He led the effort to fund Seattle’s first parks levy, rebuild the opera house and was instrumental in building the Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle’s City Hall and Justice Center.

During his time as mayor, Schell helped develop Seattle’s 37 neighborhood plans, laying the foundation for the strong neighborhood system that is seen today. Schell was not only committed to the infrastructure, but also to the people of Seattle. He worked tirelessly to increase service for Seattle’s homeless and immigrant communities, bringing them much-needed services.

“Paul will be greatly missed. He was truly committed to the people of Seattle, working to improve the city both as an elected official and private citizen. He was dedicated to the lives of the people of this city, evidenced by his countless contributions and the legacy he built here,” said Murray.

“Paul fell in love with Seattle when he moved here, as a lot of us then younger people did, then as a civic leader and a mayor he went about making this city even a better place. In a relatively brief time in office, he made a huge and lasting difference in our city,” said former mayor and friend Charlie Royer.

Schell is survived by Pam, his wife of 51 years, and daughter, Jamie. The Schell’s have been patrons of the arts in Seattle and Whidbey Island, supporting institutions like the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.


Additional information on remembrance services will be provided in the days to come. Schell’s family has asked for privacy during this difficult time. Please address inquiries to the Mayor’s communications office.


City invites neighbors to participate in fourth ‘Find It, Fix It’ Community Walk

Find It, Fix It Community Walk

Mayor Murray’s ‘Find it, Fix it’ Community Walks, focused on several crime hotspots, makes its way to a fourth neighborhood in Seattle next Tuesday, July 29.

At the walks, community residents, police, and city officials have been walking together to identify physical disorder and solve it. The three walks already conducted have seen great success with a 40 percent rise in use of the Find It, Fix It application and identification, notification and action taken on graffiti removal, street lighting, litter and garbage clean-up, and trimming overgrown bushes and trees.

The next Find It, Fix It Community Walk
Tuesday, July 29, 7 – 9 p.m., Rainier Ave. and Genesee
Meet in the Jumbo’s parking lot (Map)

7 – 7:15 p.m.

  • Short program featuring Mayor Ed Murray, City Councilmembers Sally J. Clark and Bruce Harrell, City Attorney Pete Holmes, Seattle Police Department officials and department representatives.

7:15 – 9 p.m.

Walk commences along the following route:

  • East S. Genesee
  • South on 37th Ave S.
  • West on S. Oregon St.
  • North on Rainier Ave. S.
  • East on S. Andover St.
  • North on Courtland Pl.
  • East on the Charlestown St. Hillclimb
  • South on 37th Ave S.
  • West on S. Adams St.
  • Walk ends at Jumbo’s parking lot

9 p.m.

  • Walk concludes and department representatives are available for follow-up questions.

We’re scheduling additional ‘Find it, Fix it’ Community Walks that we will announce in the coming weeks. The next scheduled walk will take place on August 12, from 7 – 9 p.m. in the Rainier Beach neighborhood, at the intersection of Rainier and Henderson.

Residents are also encouraged to participate in the August 5 Night Out for Crime in their own neighborhoods. For more information and to register your event, visit the Mayor’s web site.

For more information on Murray’s public safety strategy for Seattle, visit

Mayor Murray provides comment on crude oil train derailment

Mayor Murray issued the following statement on this morning’s crude oil train derailment:

“Earlier today I spoke with US Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to share my concerns over this morning’s crude oil train derailment and the potential for a larger rail accident in our community. I wanted to make sure he understood the critical importance this rail line plays for commuters and the region’s freight network.

Even though they travel through our city, we as a city, do not have control over how the railways are used, and we must rely on the safety standards that are set at the federal level. I thanked Secretary Foxx for yesterday’s release of new oil train safety rules and I am committed to working with him to make these rules as strong as possible.

I’ve directed my departments to review these rules to ensure they protect the people, land and railways of Seattle. I urge the public to join me in providing public comment, encouraging the phasing out of train cars that are not retrofitted to meet high safety standards.

This is an important public safety issue facing Seattle and I will continue to advocate for less oil and coal coming through our city.

Read the safety rules at:

The Seattle Human Rights Commission seeks candidates

Seattle Human Rights CommissionThe Seattle Human Rights Commission seeks candidates to apply for service on the Commission. Candidates will be selected and appointed by the Mayor and City Council. The Commission advises the Mayor and City Council on human rights and social justice issues.

As the City of Seattle has been declared a Human Rights City, the Commission works with the City to protect, respect and fulfill the inherent human rights for all who live in the City. It uses the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments as its compass in highlighting and addressing human rights issues. The Commission also works to impact the lives of people in Seattle through its policy work and community outreach, and works with the Office for Civil Rights to end discrimination.

Participation on the Commission requires a minimum time commitment of 10-15 hours per month. This includes attendance at monthly meetings held the first Thursday of each month in the evening, participation in committee work, meeting with City departments, communicating with state legislators and addressing human rights concerns. The Commission also hears and adjudicates appeals of discrimination cases from the Seattle Office for Civil Rights.

Commissioners are appointed for two years and all appointments are subject to confirmation by the City Council. The Commission is interested in applicants with diverse backgrounds, including human rights, social services, education, law, public policy, advocacy, and business. Commissioners serve without compensation. To be considered, email a letter of interest, resume and SHRC application to by August 25, 2014. The SHRC application is available at or by request made to

The City is committed to promoting diversity in its commissions. Women, people with disabilities, youth, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, immigrants and people of color are encouraged to apply. All are welcome.

Mayor Murray names new acting Human Services Department head

John OkamotoMayor Murray today announced John Okamoto as the new acting Director for the city’s Human Services Department (HSD). Okamoto will replace current HSD interim Director Catherine Lester, who will remain with HSD and assist Okamoto in his transition.

“I want to extend my gratitude to Catherine Lester for the great work that she has done since 2011, first as deputy director and then interim director,” said Murray. “As the interim director, Catherine successfully led the department through a period of significant change and uncertainty, prospering in many areas. I’m confident John will build upon Catherine’s great work as we continue looking for a permanent director.”

Okamoto served as Executive Director of the Washington Education Association from 2008 – 2012. He has a long track record of successful leadership positions, and is well known by community, public and business leaders. His extensive management experience includes leadership positions with the Port of Seattle, the Washington State Department of Transportation, and as Director of the former Department of Engineering and former Director of Personnel for the City. Read his resume here.

“I started my ‘calling’ in public service in the Human Services Department many decades ago when I was a summer youth worker job developer and counselor. Coming back to HSD is a full circle for me,” said Okamoto.

“My family has deep history in elder care programs with the creation of Keiro nursing home, the Midori senior housing and Nikkei Manor assisted living facility. I volunteer with homeless meal and housing programs at Operation Nightwatch and Lord’s table,” continued Okamoto. “I am deeply passionate about social justice, equity, and inclusion, but I don’t have an extensive background in human services, housing, and homelessness issues. It’s going to be very important for me to reach out to our nonprofit service provider community and to other external stakeholders and make sure my leadership is informed by their insights and perspectives.”

Paul Lambros, Executive Director of Plymouth Housing Group, served as Co-Chair of the HSD Search Committee along with Co-Chair Dorothy Mann, a retired public health expert who was Regional Health Administrator, Region X, U.S. Public Health Service from 1979 – 1993.  Mann also served two years in the office of Mayor Norman B. Rice as Co-Director of the Mayor’s Violence Prevention Project.

“We have tremendous opportunities under Mayor Murray and his administration to have Seattle leading the way across the country in providing innovative social services and in ending homelessness. John will add value by bringing his strategic understanding of systems, diagnosing challenges and new opportunities, and strengthening relationships,” said Lambros.

Estela Ortega, Executive Director of El Centro de la Raza, added, “I’ve known John for many years and know him to be a honest broker who is deeply committed to our immigrant/refugee communities and someone who understands the importance of culturally competent services. I am confident that John’s steady leadership will help the department continue to meet its mission while working collaboratively with our community-based organizations.”

In appointing Okamoto to this interim role, Murray has tasked him to identify where the department can refine its focus, to strengthen partnerships and alignment with other funders, service providers, and stakeholders, and to lay the foundation for transformational change for the next permanent director.

Okamoto’s interim assignment will start on August 1, 2014, with an annualized salary of $151,000. Lester has agreed to stay on and help with the transition. The search process for the permanent HSD Director will be placed on hold until early 2015, with a goal of identifying a new permanent Director by the middle of next year. Similar to the current process, next year’s search process will also include extensive outreach to service providers and community stakeholders for their input and guidance.

The Human Services Department funds and operates programs and services that meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable people in our community — families and individuals with low incomes, children, domestic violence and sexual assault victims, homeless people, seniors, and persons with disabilities.

Murray also announced the reappointment of Fred Podesta as the Director of the Finance and Administrative Services Department and Glen Lee as Finance Director. Podesta’s annual salary will be $157,300 and Lee’s annual salary will be $152,700.

Join us for the Seattle’s 30th Annual ‘Night Out Against Crime’ celebration on Aug. 5

Night Out SeattleThis year marks the City of Seattle’s 30th Annual “Night Out Against Crime” celebration on Tuesday, August 5th. Recently, Mayor Murray laid out a comprehensive public safety plan for Seattle that underscores the importance of providing opportunities for youth and community members to enjoy their streets and public spaces citywide. The Mayor believes Night Out is a great example of the types of opportunities that exist for reconnecting community to Seattle streets. Night Out, an annual national event hosted locally by the Seattle Police Department, shows that residents and City government can mobilize resources and energy together to move toward a safer and more connected Seattle. We hope you’ll join in making this Seattle’s best Night Out yet.

Sign your block up for Night Out:

  1. Register your event and add it to the map. (When you register your event in Seattle, most non-arterial streets can be blocked off—without a fee—so you and your neighbors can take over the street.)
  2. Invite your neighbors by printing off the materials on our website and distributing around your block.
  3. And finally, help us promote Night Out around Seattle by liking the Night Out Facebook Page, sharing updates, and inviting others do the same.

If you have any questions, you can email or call your Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator.

Find a Night Out event:

View the public Night Out map to see events in your neighborhood.

Attend a Picnic in the Precinct:

Another key element of safer communities is when we all know our local police officers. Coming up are several opportunities for you to get to know the Seattle Police Officers who protect your neighborhood. Meet the new Chief of Police, Kathleen O’Toole, your local police officers, and other community members at one of four upcoming Picnics in the Precincts:

  • Tuesday, August 5th: West Precinct Picnic / National Night Out
    Occidental Square in Pioneer Square, 5pm – 8pm
  • Saturday, August 9th: Southwest Precinct Picnic
    Delridge Community Center (4501 Delridge Way SW), 11 am – 4 pm (More info)
  • Saturday, August 16th: South Precinct Picnic
    New Holly Campus (7058 32nd Ave S), 1pm – 4pm
  • Sunday, August 24th: North Precinct Picnic
    University Heights Center (5031 University Way NE), 1pm – 4pm
  • Saturday, August 30th: East Precinct Picnic
    Cal Anderson Park (1635 11th Ave), 1pm – 4pm

Whether it’s getting to know your neighbors better or building a stronger relationship with the officers in your neighborhood, a safer Seattle takes all of us organizing and working together. Take a moment to register a Night Out event on your block and put your local Picnic in the Precinct on your calendar. We hope you’ll take some of these important opportunities to build public safety across the city.

Mayor Murray’s statement on Barton foreclosure

Mayor Murray issued the following statement today on the Barton foreclosure:

“We are attempting to understand all options that may exist in this situation and I have asked Chief O’Toole and the Seattle Police Department to stand by while the latest court proceedings unwind.

An interdepartmental team has been working on the issue of foreclosure and how the City of Seattle can proactively connect residents to resources early in the process. I’ve pledged the City of Seattle’s participation in the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness in 2015, and will launch a separate process to address homelessness and increase housing affordability in the months ahead, one of my visions toward making Seattle an affordable city.

In Washington State, we’ve seen recent victories such as the 2011 Washington State Foreclosure Fairness Act, which I worked on closely, designed to help homeowners and their lenders explore alternatives to foreclosure and reach a resolution when possible. I’m committed to working with all stakeholders, using this and other alternatives in the work Seattle does on housing affordability.”

The City of Seattle and Washington State have resources to help homeowners avoid default and work out repayment plans in order to stay in their homes, or gain enough time to sell their homes on their own terms:

City invites neighbors to participate in third ‘Find It, Fix It’ Community Walk

In his public safety address to the Seattle City Council last month, Mayor Murray detailed a series of ‘Find it, Fix it’ Community Walks, focused on several crime hotspots.

At the walks, community residents, police, and city officials have been walking together to identify physical disorder and solve it. The two walks already conducted have seen great success with a 40 percent rise in use of the Find It, Fix It application and identification, notification and action taken on graffiti removal, street lighting, litter and garbage clean-up, and trimming overgrown bushes and trees.

The next Find It, Fix It Community Walk
Tuesday, July 22, 7 – 9 p.m., Rainier Beach Station Plaza (Martin Luther King Jr Way and S. Henderson St.)
Meet in the plaza (Map)

7 – 7:15 p.m.

  • Short program featuring City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, City Attorney Pete Holmes, Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole and department representatives.

7:15 – 9 p.m.

Walk commences along the following route:

  • East on S. Henderson St.
  • North on Renton Ave. S.
  • Stop at the Somali Community Services (8810 Renton Ave South)
  • West on S. Trenton St.
  • Return to Light Rail Station, board northbound train to Othello Station.

**Please note, fare passes will be provided for this part of the walk**

  • South on Martin Luther King Jr Way S.
  • East on S. Othello St.
  • Walk ends at Othello Playground

9 p.m.

  • Walk concludes and department representatives are available for follow-up questions.

The Rainier Beach Light Rail Station is one of five hot spots identified in the City of Seattle’s three-year U.S. Department of Justice Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation grant. The project called Rainier Beach: A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth, focuses on non-arrest, place-based interventions to reduce crime. The project is based on hot spot research by George Mason’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy. The work is being conducted by a 60-member, diverse community task force that has been analyzing crime and community data for more than six months and has identified recommendations to reduce crime at the Light Rail Station and four other locations. Members of the community task force will be participating in Tuesday’s Find It Fix It walk.

Additional ‘Find it, Fix it’ Community Walks will take place in the upcoming weeks:

  • July 29, 7 – 9 p.m.: Rainier Ave. and Genesee
  • August 12, 7 – 9 p.m.: Rainier Beach

For more information on Murray’s public safety strategy for Seattle, visit

Mayor Murray applauds vote on Metro transit funding in Seattle

Mayor Murray issued the following statement in response to the Seattle Transportation Benefit District Board’s vote to place a proposal to fund Metro Transit service in Seattle on the November 4 ballot:

“I was very disappointed with the failure of King County’s Proposition 1 in April, especially because of the overwhelming – two-thirds – support from Seattle residents. It’s clear that Seattle voters value transit service as a way of life and, for many, it is a lifeline we cannot afford to cut. Preserving transit service is the most progressive act we can take, but we must ensure our low-income residents are not overly burdened by the increased taxes. The proposal includes a low-income vehicle fee rebate and increased access to King County’s planned low-income fare.

I want to thank the Board members for sending the proposal to preserve Metro Transit service in Seattle to the ballot. I especially want to thank Board Chair Tom Rasmussen for his leadership in moving this through the Transportation Benefit District.

My colleagues on the Council and I are committed to a long-term, regional funding solution for transit. While this measure will help preserve service in the short-term, I am also committed to working with the King County Executive, coalition partners and our legislative leaders toward achieving a balanced comprehensive statewide package as quickly as we can.”

Pianos in the Parks campaign launched July 17

Shenandoah Davis performs with Sean Nelson in Othello Park

Local musician Shenandoah Davis performs with Sean Nelson in Othello Park

On July 17, Seattle Parks and Recreation, King County Parks, Laird Norton Wealth Management, and local arts and business organizations collaborated to launch Pianos in the Parks. The Pianos in the Parks campaign placed 20 decorated pianos in Seattle parks, King County parks, Seattle Center and City Hall Plaza hoping to encourage residents to explore green and open spaces and to share and enjoy each others’ art.

“We are delighted to host the pianos at 13 city parks, Seattle Center and City Hall plaza,” Mayor Murray said. “Pianos in the Parks will enliven our parks and engage communities through the power of art and music.”

The first piano was unveiled Thursday, July 17 at an event in Othello Park. Other Seattle Parks locations for the pianos include Cal Anderson Park, Denny Park, Hing Hay Park, Ballard Commons Park, Green Lake Park, Alki Beach Park, Maple Leaf Reservoir Park, Pier 62/63, Sam Smith Park, Rainier Beach Plaza, Volunteer Park and Westlake Park.

“We are thrilled to host this positive and innovative way to bring more people into our parks and to listen to music for all to enjoy,” said Christopher Williams, Acting Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation.

Other partners include Seattle Symphony, KEXP, Gage Academy of Art, City of Music and Classic Pianos.

The pianos were procured and donated by Classic Pianos and will be available in the parks until Aug. 17. Members of the public are invited to play the pianos and can upload videos of their park performances to the Pianos in the Parks Facebook page for a chance to play at KEXP’s and Seattle Center’s “Concerts at the Mural” on Friday, Aug. 22. The Facebook entries that receive the highest number of “likes” will be judged by a community panel and a winner will be selected.

At the end of the campaign, the pianos will be sold to the highest bidder in an online auction on Proceeds from the pianos sales will benefit Seattle Parks and Recreation, King County Parks, Seattle Symphony, KEXP and Gage Academy of Art.

For more information about Pianos in the Parks scheduled activities, participating parks/open spaces and full contest information, please visit: To tag contest entries, pictures and experiences, use the hashtag #PianosintheParks and send your photos to @seattleparks on Twitter.