Mayor Murray statement on the death of Woodland Park Zoo elephant Watoto

Mayor Murray released the following statement about the death of Watoto, a 45-year-old African elephant under the care of Woodland Park Zoo staff:

Watoto“The death of Watoto the elephant is very sad news.

I want to express my condolences to all who loved her,  particularly the animal management staff who cared for her at Woodland Park Zoo. I know this is a very difficult moment for them.

At the same time, I do believe that today’s news should reopen a dialogue in this city about the proper habitat for elephants.”

Pharrell Williams, Soundgarden to perform free ‘NFL Kickoff Concert’ before Seahawks game, Sept. 4


The National Football League has announced a 2014 NFL Kickoff event to be held Thursday, September 4 at CenturyLink Field’s North Lot in Seattle. Activities will begin around 2:30 p.m., prior to the Seahawks’ first game of the 2014-2015 regular season against the Green Bay Packers.

Seattle natives Soundgarden and singer/songwriter/producer Pharrell Williams will perform live. The event is free and open to the public rain or shine. Seahawks ticket holders are encouraged to arrive early and watch the concert from inside the stadium. For more information about this event, please check out or follow @NFL345 on Twitter. Award-winning singer Ariana Grande will sing the National Anthem before the game.

The City of Seattle and the NFL have teamed up to release the following information to help make the event enjoyable, accessible, and safe for everyone:

Prohibited items

  • To ensure public safety and security, the following items are prohibited: weapons, alcohol, food, beverages, all glass containers, fireworks, all chairs, tents of any kind, barbecue grills of any kind, umbrellas, blankets of any kind, cameras with lens over 12”, obstructive signs, bags larger than 12”x6”x12” and animals other than service animals.
  • All attendees are subject to search, and prohibited items may not be abandoned at security checkpoints. Please allow adequate time to pass through security checkpoints before activities begin.

Entry location

General Public:

  • Guests can enter the concert site from 2nd Avenue and South King Street and may watch the performances from the North Lot.
  • The entrances will open to the public beginning at 2:30 pm PT on Thursday, Sept. 4.
  • Guests may view the concert from the general public viewing areas.
  • Access to the general public viewing areas is first come, first served.
  • Fans do not need tickets to attend the free concert.

Seahawks Ticket Holders:

  • Seahawks ticket holders are encouraged to arrive early and watch the concert from inside the stadium, including: North Plaza, Touchdown City or on the in-stadium video boards.
  • Stadium gates will open at 2:30 p.m. for Seahawks fans attending the game.


  • Guests are encouraged to use public transportation and should arrive early to enjoy game day activities and avoid any traffic or parking delays.


  • The disabled drop-off zone is located off the intersection of Railroad Way S. at Occidental Avenue (across from The Pro Shop at CenturyLink Field), from the North via 1st Ave. South.
  • Drivers may drop off passengers next to the stadium prior to the concert.
  • ADA Access to the concert site is located off of Occidental Avenue, at the SW corner of the North Lot.

Road closures


  • Immediately following the concert, all attendees who do not have a ticket to the game will be directed to exit at 2nd Avenue and South King Street, the same location as entry.
  • The Seahawks vs. Packers game will not be broadcast from the concert site at the conclusion of the event.
  • Fans are encouraged to watch the game at local Seattle establishments.

Cell Phone Advisory

  • During special events, cell phone networks can become overloaded making it difficult for someone to reach the 911 Dispatch Center during an emergency.
  • Fans are encouraged to limit routine use of the cell system during the concert, and in particular the sending or receiving of videos.
  • Should an emergency occur, fans are advised to use their phone to call 911, but use text messaging for routine communication.

Next ‘Find It, Fix It’ Community Walk set for Lake City neighborhood Aug. 25

Find It Fix It Community Walk - Rainier Beach

Mayor Ed Murray’s ‘Find It, Fix It’ Community Walk, focused on several crime hotspots, makes its way to a sixth neighborhood in Seattle on Monday, Aug. 25.

At the walks, community residents, police, and city officials walk together to identify physical disorder and solve it. As a result of these walks, Seattle City Light, the Seattle Department of Transportation, the Department of Planning and Development, and Seattle Public Utilities have worked – and continue to work – to make improvements in Seattle’s neighborhoods. Watch videos, view photos and read actions taken as a result of these walks at:

The next Find It, Fix It Community Walk
Monday, Aug. 25, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
NE 125th & 30th St NE
Meet at the Lake City Mini Park (Map)

7 – 7:15 p.m.

Short program featuring Mayor Ed Murray, City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, Sen. David Frockt, Seattle Chief of Police Kathleen O’Toole, and department representatives.

7:15 – 8:30 p.m.

Walk commences along the following route:

  • Head East on on NE 125th
  • North on 33rd Ave NE
  • West on NE 130th St
  • South on 30th Ave NE
  • West on NE 127th St
  • South on 28th Ave NE
  • East on NE 125th St

8:30 p.m.

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

Future ‘Find It, Fix It’ walks will be held on Sept. 11th in the International District and on Sept. 17th on Capitol Hill.

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

Mayor Murray statement on the latest charging of Ali Muhammad Brown

Mayor Murray today issued the following statement in the wake of the latest charges filed against Ali Muhammad Brown:

“Today, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed additional charges against Ali Muhammad Brown, the man charged with the murder of Ahmed Said and Dwone Anderson-Young in Leschi on June 1, 2014. Today, Brown was also charged with the murder of Leroy Henderson in Skyway on April 27.

Ali Muhammad Brown took the lives of three members of our community, and, with these charges, he will face justice.

The charging documents reveal disturbing details about Brown’s motive for committing these murders, which appears to have based on anti-American sentiment and an extreme interpretation of the Muslim faith. While Brown invoked his faith, we must be clear that Brown’s views and his actions do not reflect the values of Muslims.

In this moment of grief, we, as one community, across all faiths and religions races and ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations, can and must renew our resolve to stand firm against violence and hatred of all kinds.”

Mayor Murray details implementation plans for Parks District, thanks Acting Superintendent for his service

Christopher Williams

Mayor Murray today thanked Christopher Williams, Acting Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the past four years, who is stepping down to the role of Deputy Superintendent. Williams is returning to his previous role with the department as he manages some personal health issues.

“I want to thank Christopher for his dedication and service to Seattle Parks and Recreation and the people of Seattle over the last four years as Acting Superintendent, and for many years before that in other capacities with the department,” added Murray. “Under his leadership, the department has successfully weathered significant budget reductions as the result of the Great Recession, including both service and staffing cuts. Seattle’s park system will benefit from Christopher’s work for years to come.”

The Mayor will conduct a national search to find a new leader for the Parks and Recreation Department. The search is underway and will be completed by January of 2015.

The Mayor also detailed plans for implementation of the Seattle Parks District approved by voters on Aug. 5.

“I want to commend voters once again on passage of the Seattle Parks District,” said Murray. “We have already started work on establishing strong accountability standards, including accounting and financial oversight for these resources. Also, a new ‘results team’ will develop performance management tools so that we can track and measure our success. I look forward to working with the City Council on these issues.”

The Seattle City Council will serve as the governing Park District Board. The Board will meet this fall to adopt an inter-local agreement that details charter and bylaws and appoint a Community Oversight Committee.

The Oversight Committee will have 15 members: four Park Board members; seven members, one from each Council district; and four additional members to be considered for appointment based on recommendations from City commissions, including the Immigrant and Refugee Commission, the Commission for People with Disabilities, the Human Rights Commission, the Seattle Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Commission, and the Women’s Commission. All appointments will be confirmed by the City Council and the Mayor will appoint the Chair of the Oversight Committee.

The Oversight Committee will provide advice on spending and activities including:

  • Establishing an application process for an annual allocation of Major Project Challenge Funds;
  • Reviewing an annual report prepared by Seattle Parks and Recreation for the Seattle Park District and the City, including assessment of performance measures and expenditure of District funds;
  • Holding public meetings and making recommendations to the Superintendent in connection with each 6-year update to the spending plan, and
  • Providing to the Mayor, City Council, and Superintendent of Parks and Recreation an annual report on the progress of expenditures, a mid-term report half-way through each six-year period, and a final report in advance of each 6-year update to the spending plan.

Information about the spending plan for the Park District is available at this website.

Video from the press conference

Murray announces communications staff changes

Mayor Murray today announced his appointment of Jason Kelly to serve as Press Secretary in the Mayor’s Office.

Kelly served most recently as Strategic Communications Manager for the Port of Seattle. He lives in Seattle with his wife, Juliette, and their two children, Gavin and Fiona.

Prior to moving to Seattle, he worked in several communications positions in Olympia, including in the Office of Gov. Chris Gregoire, the State Department of Agriculture, the State Senate, the State School Directors’ Association and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

His recent community service includes terms on the Board of Directors of Parent Trust for Washington Children and the Board of Trustees of the Griffin School Foundation. He frequently volunteers as a youth sports coach.

Kelly began his career in public service in Washington, DC, first with U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone and then Rep. David Minge, both Members of Congress from his native state of Minnesota.

Kelly received a B.A. in history from the University of Minnesota.

His first day in the Mayor’s Office is Aug. 20th and his salary is $100,000 annually. Megan Coppersmith, who has served as Acting Press Secretary in the Mayor’s Office since March, returns to her permanent role as Public Information Advisor for the City’s Department of Information Technology.

Additionally, Mike Gore has been promoted to the position of Deputy Press Secretary from his former role of Correspondence Manager.

Gore, a Seattle native, recently graduated with a degree in journalism from Western Washington University. Gore interned at The White House Office of Communications and at The Stranger while in school, as well as serving in the role of Daily Managing Editor at Western’s award-winning student newspaper, The Western Front.

Gore’s salary is $62,640 annually.

Murray on Ferguson events: ‘This is a moment to reflect and learn for every city in this country’

Mayor Murray today made the following statement about the events that have occurred in Ferguson, Missouri this week:

“I have been watching the events unfold in Ferguson, Missouri like most of the country. The death of Michael Brown on August 9, 2014, has reminded all of us about the enormous trust citizens place in their police service. This is a moment to reflect and learn for not just Ferguson, but for every city in this country — including Seattle.

I have been watching the Ferguson police response to peaceful demonstrators and journalists with the same concern I am hearing from people in Seattle. A police service should not suppress the rights of the press to cover news events, nor should peaceful protestors be threatened with militarized force.

Police reform and public safety remain my top priorities. I hired Chief O’Toole who has a proven record of police reform. Together we are building the world’s most responsible, accountable, bias-free and transparent police service. As we’ve already seen by O’Toole’s actions, change is underway. Together we will continue to watch and learn from the events in Ferguson as they unfold.

I want to conclude by offering my condolences to Michael Brown’s family and friends. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you go through this difficult time.”

Mayor Murray releases recommendations to double enrollment in Seattle’s Utility Discount Program

UDP presser

Mayor Murray today provided an update on the City of Seattle’s efforts to promote affordability by increasing enrollment in the Utility Discount Program.

“It’s extremely important that Seattle remain inclusive and affordable for people all across the income spectrum,” said Murray. “Increasing enrollment in the Utility Discount Program is another critical step we are taking on the road to making Seattle affordable for everyone who wants to live here.”

Recently approved by the City Council, the Seattle City Light (SCL) and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) strategic business plans address affordability by setting stable rate increases, thereby controlling costs for customers. SCL’s rate increases have averaged almost 7 percent over the past 5 years and will now be held to 4.4 percent per year. SPU’s rate increases, which have averaged almost 7 percent annually over the past 10 years, will now be held at 4.6 percent per year. Find graphs of these changes here.

Both strategic plans also include the goal of doubling enrollment of the city’s Utility Discount Program by 2018, a goal announced by Murray in January.

Seattle has one of the strongest utility discount programs in the country; however, of the estimated 72,000 Seattle residents who qualify for this important program, only 14,000 were enrolled at the beginning of the year. Faced with this information, Murray put together an interdepartmental team to strengthen the program. Read the report here.

“Each month Solid Ground serves thousands of families who must make tough choices between paying their rent and paying their utility bills. Increased utility rate assistance is critical for Seattle’s working families who are at risk of being priced out. Solid Ground applauds the mayor’s call to expand the Utility Discount Program and looks forward to continued efforts to keep Seattle affordable and inclusive,” said Gordon McHenry, president and CEO of Solid Ground.

Since January 2014, the Utility Discount Program has made a concerted effort to raise enrollment by running direct mail marketing campaigns and coupling their efforts with other services and service providers, such as auto-enrolling customers who are participating in SPU’s Emergency Assistance Program and allowing affordable housing providers to enroll new and current tenants. Changes in the program also allow for customers to remain enrolled when they move. These changes have led to a 12 percent increase in enrollment through June 2014.

Additional changes are on the horizon the Utility Discount Program, including creating a single online point of entry for consumers, an online application process, auto-enrolling qualifying subsidized housing units; integrating Utility Discount Program with Seattle Financial Empowerment Centers, aligning eligibility thresholds and benefit across both utilities, lessening documentation requirements, extending the recertification time from 18 months to 2 years, and including the utility discount program benefit on monthly billing statements.

“The recommendations for streamlining enrollment in the Utility Discount Program will undoubtedly make the program more accessible, enabling the City to help more Seattle residents,” said Steve Daschle, Co-Chair of the Seattle Human Services Coalition.

For more information, visit

Video from the press conference:

Mayor Murray provides an update on the Barton foreclosure situation

Mayor Murray today released the following statement about the Barton foreclosure situation:

“Three weeks ago I directed the Seattle Police Department to stand down from removing the Bartons from their home out of concern for the circumstances of the family, and because it wasn’t clear that all options had been explored for connecting the Bartons to services available to them.

Representatives from the City’s Office of Housing as well as the Human Services Department have been in almost daily contact with the Bartons ever since, presenting the family with an array of health and human services for which they may be eligible at the city, county, state and federal levels. To date, the Bartons, however, have not pursued any of these options while choosing to remain in the home.”

I want to add that, during these site visits, staff – who are mandatory reporters – observed conditions inside the residence that required them to submit reports to Adult Protective Services.

I also said three weeks ago that the City would comply with any order from the court to proceed with the eviction, should it come to that.

Today, the judge decided that SPD acted properly in exercising its discretion over the past three weeks. The judge also ruled that the responsibility to execute any court order to remove the Bartons lies with King County. Triangle Properties now has the option to seek a writ against the King County Sheriff’s Office to proceed with the eviction.”

Mayor Murray weighs in on Council immigration resolution

Mayor Murray today added his voice to the national dialogue about our existing immigration laws, a dialogue also taken up this week by the Seattle City Council.

“I strongly support the resolution approved today by the Council,” said Murray. “We are a nation – and Seattle is a city – built by immigrants. I am committed to preserving our tradition as a welcoming community that embraces all of our residents regardless of their status or how they arrived. The President must take action to stop the historic numbers of deportations that are devastating families and causing workers and employers to operate under fear and uncertainty.”

Murray also addressed the growing refugee crisis at our borders, which made local headlines in mid-July with reports of approximately 600 unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America expected at Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) because they lacked sponsors inside the country to host them as they move through our country’s immigration system. Last week, state and federal officials announced that sponsors within the community and shelters in other states have the capacity to meet current needs need, and that no unaccompanied refugee children would be hosted at JBLM at this time.

“On behalf of the City of Seattle, I want to thank the sponsors and foster parents in our city and across the state who have opened their homes to care for the 211 refugee children until they have their claims heard in court – they reflect the best of our city, our state and our country,” said Murray. “And, as Mayor of Seattle, I also believe our City government has a strong moral and leadership imperative to address this humanitarian crisis. So I am directing City departments to work with our community partners to identify what we can do together should the current situation change and our region receive unaccompanied refugee children in the future.”

Murray said that his office will to continue to monitor the situation and remain in regular contact with state and federal agencies to keep abreast of new developments.

In the meantime, Murray will also:

  • Direct relevant City departments to refresh their staffs’ and contractors’ understanding of the City’s sanctuary policy, which does not require proof of status from residents requesting or receiving City-funded services;
  • Conduct, through the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA), a media campaign to raise awareness within Seattle’s immigrant communities about the City’s sanctuary policy; and
  • Direct OIRA, the Human Services Department and the Office of Housing, among other City departments, to begin studying how City government can work in conjunction with our community partners – churches, community-based organizations, faith organizations, and business and philanthropic institutions – in order to best support new arrivals when the need arises.

Finally, Murray said that he will send a letter to Washington’s Congressional delegation urging increased funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, both to serve the refugee children crossing our borders and to restore previous cuts to services for refugees who are already here.

“To pit the needs of incoming refugee children against the needs of new Americans who’ve been resettled and are now working to integrate within their communities is wrong,” said Murray. “Here in Seattle, refugee resettlement agencies are feeling the impact of having funding for existing services for refugees and their families eliminated. We can and must do better.”

Throughout his career as an elected official, Murray has been a strong advocate for immigrant populations. As chair of the state House Capital Budget Committee, Murray established the first-ever state investment in farm-worker housing. As chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, Murray secured funding for medical interpreters and helped make Washington the first state to protect medical interpreters with a union contract. Then-Sen. Murray was also the original sponsor of the Washington DREAM Act to open state financial aid to undocumented students, which was signed into law during the 2014 Legislative Session. In one of his first acts as Mayor, Murray doubled the size of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.