Brian Surratt to head Office of Economic Development

Today Mayor Ed Murray named Brian Surratt director of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development (OED). Surratt will replace Steve Johnson, who is stepping down after leading the department for the past six years.

“Brian has demonstrated strong leadership in support of Seattle’s workers and businesses,” said Murray. “He is a trusted advisor, and his contributions are helping businesses succeed and grow quality jobs. Seattle is a diverse, innovative, and globally connected community of businesses. We look forward to supporting an even more competitive and resilient economy that grows middle-class jobs.”

During the first 18 months of the Murray Administration, Surratt has served in the Mayor’s Office of Policy and Innovation as senior policy advisor on economic development issues. He helped guide the work of the Income Inequality Advisory Committee that developed the path to a $15 minimum wage. He also worked with regional partners to recruit and retain businesses in the city, including Juno Therapeutics. This year, Surratt was honored with a fellowship from the German Marshall Fund.

“I am honored by this opportunity to serve the Mayor and the city as director of the Office of Economic Development,” says Surratt. “Seattle is a special place that actively cultivates and attracts creative ideas and people that impact the world. Our entrepreneurs are growing the economy without sacrificing our values of shared prosperity. We want to foster an open and supportive environment for creating new jobs in robust business ventures.”

Before joining the Mayor’s Office, Surratt worked at OED for nearly a decade, including three years as deputy director. Previously, he helped launch a Portland software company, served as public affairs manager for First & Goal, Inc. and the Seattle Seahawks, along with stints at the South Downtown Foundation and with former State Representative and current State Treasurer Jim McIntire.

“The Chamber applauds Mayor Murray’s nomination of Brian Surratt as the next director of OED,” said Maud Daudon, CEO, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. “Brian is one of Seattle’s brightest emerging minds on economic development and understands the many challenges and opportunities facing Seattle’s business community.”

“I got to know Brian Surratt over the past year and a half during the Mayor’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee work,” said David Rolf, President, SEIU 775.  “Brian played a remarkable role in working with labor, community and business leaders to help drive a challenging process which ultimately led to Seattle’s historic adoption of a path to a $15 minimum wage.”

“I have known Brian for 15 years and he has demonstrated his support for Seattle’s manufacturing and maritime communities. I look forward to working with the Mayor and Brian in the years ahead,” said Dave Gering, Executive Director, Manufacturing Industrial Council of Seattle.

“I’ve worked with Brian for eight years and in that time I’ve found him to be a balanced and effective public servant,” said David Freiboth, Executive Secretary Treasurer, Martin Luther King County Labor Council. “He is a true innovator when it comes to developing solutions to complex problems. The prospect of working with someone with Brian’s grasp of the economic complexities of Seattle is exciting.”

“Throughout his role in Mayor Murray’s office, Brian has consistently supported the success of Seattle restaurants,” said Angela Stowell, President, Seattle Restaurant Alliance and co-owner of Ethan Stowell Restaurants.  “We hope to continue partnering with him and the Mayor to develop programs and initiatives that support, celebrate and grow Seattle’s restaurant and hospitality community.”

“Brian Surratt’s diverse range of experiences as a civic diplomat, policy wonk, corporate manager and tech entrepreneur make him an impressive choice to lead economic development for Seattle,” said Julie Pham, Vice President, Washington Technology Industry Association. “These roles, combined with his work on his mother’s restaurants and family’s cattle ranch, give Brian a unique perspective on developing and growing businesses of all sizes. WTIA looks forward to continuing our partnership with the Office of Economic Development now under Brian’s leadership to help generate new jobs across the entire region.”

Surratt joins OED on June 15 and will earn an annual salary of $132,000.

Steve Johnson started his career with the City during Mayor Norm Rice’s administration, when he helped consolidate City ownership of the Cedar River Watershed. At OED, he developed a number of innovative community and economic development programs, including the Rainier Valley Community Development Fund and partnerships with post-secondary education institutions and philanthropy to reimagine how to deliver education and training for low-income working adults.

“Steve has shown exemplary commitment to the people and City of Seattle,” said Murray. “I thank Steve for over two decades of public service, highlighted by the remaking of the Office of Economic Development. I appreciate his focus on direct service to individual businesses, strategic investments in the revitalization of our neighborhood business districts, and career advancement for working people. I wish him the best in his next chapter.”

“I’m both appreciative of the opportunity to serve in Mayor Murray’s administration and am looking forward to the next chapter in my life,” said Johnson. “The City must play an active role in economic development and I am thrilled at Brian’s appointment. He played an instrumental role in building this office and has the skills to help the Mayor achieve his vision. As for me, I intend to continue my work for the people of Seattle.”

Johnson will be stepping down to spend more time with family before pursuing other professional opportunities.

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Mayor Appoints Director of New Office of Labor Standards

Mayor Ed Murray today named Dylan Orr as director of the new Office of Labor Standards (OLS), which oversees implementation of the city’s historic minimum wage law.

Orr served for over five years at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), including two years as chief of staff for the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), where he served as principal strategic advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Labor, developed labor policies and oversaw a staff of more than 50. Prior to that, Orr served as special assistant to ODEP for three years.  During his time at DOL, Orr worked closely with DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Justice, among others, and played an instrumental role in the development and implementation of historic labor policies and practices.

“Dylan has the right background and leadership experience to ensure the City meets its commitment to protecting workers and ensuring businesses comply with labor standards,” Murray said. “I’m confident he’ll be a strong and capable leader as we take the next steps forward in implementing the city’s minimum wage law.”

Orr is a Seattle native and holds a law degree from the University of Washington. He was the first openly transgender person appointed by the Obama administration, and the first ever to be appointed to any U.S. Presidential Administration. Orr will earn $118,000 annually.

“I look forward to serving the communities, workers and businesses of the City of Seattle,” Orr said. “I believe that with the implementation and enforcement of the City’s new ordinances, we can advance the economic mobility of our citizens, promote a healthy, productive and diverse workforce, while also boosting Seattle’s economy.”

Mayor Murray proposed the ordinance that established OLS to enforce the city’s labor laws and protect workers and educate employers about their responsibilities. OLS, housed within the Office of Civil Rights, in addition to implementing the Mayor’s minimum wage ordinance, is tasked with investigating wage-theft complaints and pursing action against employers under the City’s wage theft ordinance, the City’s paid sick and safe time ordinance, as well as the City’s job assistance ordinance.

“Dylan is an energetic and enthusiastic public servant committed to ensuring opportunity for all Americans and creating a world where each person’s contribution is valued,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said. “He believes in outreach and building coalitions, and recognizes that we all succeed only when we all succeed. Dylan will be instrumental in building brighter futures for the working families of Seattle.”

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Mayor Introduces Legislation to Create New Licenses for Marijuana Businesses

Mayor Ed Murray today unveiled new legislation for the marijuana industry. The proposal addresses the rise of the unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries and creates a path for dispensaries to join the fully licensed and legal marketplace.

“We’re strengthening the recreational marijuana market and creating safer, more consistent access for those who rely on medicinal products,” said Murray. “Medical marijuana patients live with debilitating and frequently life threatening conditions, that’s why it’s so important to bring medical dispensaries into the fold by July 2016. This will expand the legal market and ensure that products are sold with the best medical and state retail standards.”

Since the passage of Initiative 502 in 2012, Seattle has seen the number of unregulated medical marijuana establishments double to nearly 100.

The State Legislature recently addressed the legal questions surrounding services and products being sold. The Mayor’s proposal allows the City to follow state regulations more closely by granting a new regulatory license to existing Initiative 502 businesses. The proposal also creates a path forward for medical marijuana dispensaries to follow enforcement guidelines and continue operations until they are able to receive state licenses in 2016.

“I am committed to work with the Mayor and his executive departments to implement these proposals using civil remedies and regulatory enforcement rather than criminal law enforcement wherever possible,” said City Attorney Pete Holmes. “I support using whatever tools are necessary to get the job done, but I hope and believe that civil regulatory enforcement will be most effective in bringing all Seattle marijuana producers, processors, and retailers into I-502’s system by July 2016, and in most cases well before then.”

The proposal establishes a tiered enforcement plan that favors civil action over criminal prosecution. The enforcement plan prioritizes the prevention of sales to people under the age of 21 and non-qualifying patients, and bans marketing products that appeal to children.

“This legislation will help secure safe, consistent quality medical marijuana for patients,” said Councilmember Nick Licata. “It moves us toward an enforceable and fair regulated delivery system for both medical and recreational marijuana.”

Currently, medical marijuana dispensaries operate entirely outside of regulation. Under this proposed framework, the regulation of marijuana dispensaries will no longer be dependent on law enforcement alone. Many of these new policies will help normalize the marijuana industry as it joins mainstream businesses already operating in the City of Seattle.

“The C.C.S.E. and the C.P.C. have focused on standards and ethics in the Cannabis industry since their inceptions,” said Jeremy Kaufman, founder of the Center of Palliative Care and chairperson of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics. “Our organizations have always advocated for patients to have access to quality dispensaries and we want operators to conduct business without fear of criminal prosecution. Medical cannabis is undergoing a transition in Washington that will clarify its status.  Creating clarity is a complex process and this transition for medical cannabis is the next step in that process for Seattle and our local Cannabis industry.”

“As a licensed retailer opening a recreational store in Seattle I applaud the City of Seattle for moving forward on important legislation that will allow responsible adults to use marijuana recreationally and ensure that medical patients have access to quality-controlled products, while protecting public safety and our quality of life,” said John Branch, a member of the Washington Cannabusiness Association and owner of Ponder, opening at 24th and Union.

The proposal will be transmitted to City Council in June. More information is available on the FAQ page and Proposal Summary page.  

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Mayor Murray statement on Irish marriage equality

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement after Ireland became the first nation in the world to recognize marriage equality by popular vote:

“Congratulations to the people of Ireland. When I visited Ireland last year, I could feel an incredible energy behind the marriage equality movement. To my friends, Irish Senators David Norris and Katherine Zappone, thank you for your courageous leadership. That same energy and hopefulness we have seen in Ireland is rising across America and around the world. In the end, for the Irish and Irish Americans, it is all about family. All families deserve to be treated equally. I have never been so proud to be Irish.”

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Mayor Murray and Chief O’Toole announce Safe Place program

SPD_SAFE_PLACEMayor Murray and Chief of Police Kathleen O’Toole announced SPD Safe Place, a public education and visibility campaign aimed at preventing and responding to anti-LGBT bias crimes.

“Seattle welcomes all people,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “There is no place for bigotry or harassment in our city. We developed Safe Place so that businesses and community organizations can visibly stand up against intolerance and provide shelter to victims.”

SPD Safe Place is a voluntary program that provides businesses and organizations with decals and information on how to report malicious harassment, more commonly known as hate crimes. Training for these organizations includes when and how to call 911, sheltering victims of crime until police arrive and proactive outreach about working with the SPD’s LGBT liaison officer.

“Seattle Police officers work every day with the diverse communities of Seattle to ensure safety. SPD Safe Place is another way of connecting and educating those who live, work and visit Seattle about how the SPD can assist in times of crisis,” said Chief Kathleen O’Toole.

Businesses, organizations and educational institutions can request SPD Safe Place placards or posters and learn about how to work with police to prevent and address anti-LGBT crime concerns at

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Paid parental leave starts this week for city employees

Mayor Ed Murray announced that, starting May 17th, the Paid Parental Leave program has gone into effect for City of Seattle employees.

“The start of paid parental leave for the City’s workforce is another example of how the City of Seattle is leading the way in support of workers. Providing paid leave for working parents allows parents a chance to create and strengthen bonds within their families without forcing them to exhaust all of their vacation and sick time, or unfairly take too much unpaid time off,” said Murray. “Thanks to the City Council, the leadership of Councilmember Godden for her passionate advocacy, and the City’s labor partners for working together to pass this legislation and get it implemented in only a few short months. This is the right thing to do for our public employees, for their families and for the community.”

Qualifying employees who have been with the City for at least six months are now eligible to take four weeks per year of paid parental leave after the birth, adoption, or placement of a new child.

“Today marks one of the most meaningful achievements of my career to date. Paid parental leave is a benefit that will help hundreds, if not thousands of women, men and families in the City of Seattle. I have been working towards this for the last year and will continue my work towards gender equity by improving flexible hour policies and day care incentives,” said Councilmember Jean Godden, Chair, Parks, Seattle Center, Libraries and Gender Pay Equity Committee.

For more information, visit the Paid Parental Leave Program webpage.

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Seahawk Michael Bennett, Mayor Murray celebrate Bike to Work Day

imageToday Seahawk Michael Bennett joined Mayor Ed Murray to celebrate Bike to Work Day by riding along the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

“Seattle is biking to work now more than ever thanks to our investments in biking infrastructure,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We will do more in our Transportation Levy to Move Seattle to make biking safe and fun for riders of all abilities.”

Bennett famously took a victory lap around Century Link Field on a Seattle Police Department bike after the Seahawks won the NFC Championship game on the road to the Super Bowl last season. SPD again provided Bennett with a bike to use on today’s ride.

“Everybody get outside,” said Bennett. “It’s a great time to get out and ride with your kids, have fun and enjoy the city.”

Bike trips on Seattle’s major bike routes are up 12 percent during the first 4 months of 2015, compared the same period last year. On the 39th Ave NE greenway, which provides a bike friendly corridor through Seattle neighborhoods of Wedgwood and Bryant to the Burke-Gillman trail, bike traffic has increased 40 percent.

Fremont Bridge’s bike counter tallied more than one million riders in 2014. The Pronto! cycle share program now has 50 stations throughout Seattle, and will be adding two new stations this month.

Murray has transmitted his proposed Transportation Levy to Move Seattle to the Seattle City Council, which will consider sending the measure to the voters in November. Move Seattle will implement major pieces of the Bicycle Master Plan, including funding for 170 miles of neighborhood greenways and protected bike lanes over 9 years.

The Seattle Department of Transportation continues to improve bicycle access and mobility enhancements throughout the city. Last year SDOT completed the 1.2 mile Second Avenue protected bike lane now used by more than 1,000 cyclists a day.

This year, SDOT begins construction of the permanent Roosevelt Way protected bike lane and the Westlake cycle track. The department will build a total of 12 miles of neighborhood greenways and seven miles of bike lanes in neighborhoods throughout Seattle in 2015.

Bennett and Murray were joined by Cascade Bicycle Club’s Executive Director Elizabeth Kiker, SDOT staff and Seattle Police officers.

“Biking is such an integral part of Seattle’s culture that Michael even brought it to the NFC Championship Game,” said Kiker. “We’re proud of the city’s commitment to cycling and we look forward to growing it.”


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2015 Mayor’s Film Award Recipient: Megan Griffiths


Today Mayor Ed Murray announced the 2015 recipient of the 10th Annual Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film, Megan Griffiths. The award recognizes an individual or entity for exceptional work that has significantly contributed to the growth, advancement and reputation of Seattle as a filmmaking city.

“Megan’s passion for filming locally and attracting new business and talent has raised the profile of Seattle and the region’s film community,” said Murray. “Her award-winning career in directing and producing speaks for itself. I am pleased to present this award to her, and thank her for championing Seattle as a thriving place to make movies.”

Griffiths has been a director, writer and producer in the Seattle film community for over a decade. Her most recent film Lucky Them was filmed in Seattle and premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. Her previous film, Eden, was set in the southwest but filmed entirely in Washington. It premiered at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival in Austin where it won the narrative Audience Award and the Emergent Female Director Award.

“I am honored to receive the Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film,” said Griffiths. “I feel very privileged to live in a city where the Mayor and the community celebrate the film industry. Seattle is home to many great craftsmen and women who also happen to be outstanding humans and phenomenal collaborators, and I am proud to be able to call this ‘crewtopia’ my home and base of operations.”

The five Seattle film industry representatives on the Nomination and Selection Committee considered many deserving people before reaching a unanimous decision on the 2015 recipient. Griffiths will receive Silvered Piccolo Venetian with Emerald Handles created by Dale Chihuly. Griffiths will receive the award tonight at Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF)’s Opening Night Gala at the Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall.

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DPD releases draft EIS of 2035 Comprehensive Plan Update


The Seattle Department of Planning and Development has released for public comment a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan Update. This is a major milestone towards an update to the City’s Comprehensive Plan which plots a 20-year vision and roadmap for Seattle’s future growth and livability. The Draft EIS provides detailed information on various growth alternatives, their potential impacts to the environment, and proposed mitigation strategies. The City wants your voice to be heard as we refine strategies for accommodating growth for the benefit of all.

How to provide feedback on the Draft EIS:

  • Visit our online open house to learn about the findings of the Draft EIS and take the online survey
  • Attend the public hearing and open house on May 27, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at City Hall in the Bertha Knight Landes Room (600 4th Avenue).
  • Submit comments on the Draft EIS online, via email to, or in writing to:

City of Seattle, Department of Planning and Development

Attn: Gordon Clowers

700 5th Avenue, Suite 2000

PO Box 34019, Seattle, WA 98124

Comments must be postmarked no later than June 18, 2015.

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Murray statement on recent Port action

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement after today’s meeting of the Port of Seattle Commission:

“I commend the Port Commission for deciding that the arrival of an off-shore drilling rig should be delayed until the proper permits are in place. I now hope Shell will respect the wishes of the Port, the City and the community at large, and not bring an off-shore drilling rig into Elliott Bay.”

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