Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today issued the following statement in response to the claim for damages filed by former press secretary Rosalind Brazel:
Discrimination of any stripe runs counter to my personal and public values, and neither race nor gender played a role in my decision to seek different skills and experience at the press secretary position during the first one-hundred days of my administration.
The most meaningful accomplishment of my career as an elected official was enacting employment non-discrimination protections for members of the LGBT community as a member of the state Legislature.
Upon being elected mayor, it was an early priority of mine to bring more people of diverse backgrounds into the administration of the City, both as City department leaders and as staff in the Mayor’s Office.
My first act as mayor was to engage City department heads and Mayor’s Office staff in a discussion of race and social justice at the Pacific Science Center’s Race exhibit.
Every major address I have given during my tenure as mayor has included a statement of my commitment to equity across this city – from my inaugural address, to my State of the City address, to my speech on public safety, to my budget address.
I have recommitted this City, via executive order, to the Race and Social Justice Initiative. I have created a new department to drive better outcomes for students of color in our public schools. I have committed this City to gender equity in pay.
And I have said on a number of occasions that race and social justice is – and will remain for many years – the central issue of our time, requiring our sustained commitment to continue making the kind of progress that I believe is truly possible. This is a core commitment of mine, both as a mayor and as a human being.
The first days of my administration were chaotic and pressure-filled, as my Office worked to bring significant change to City government while immediately addressing a number of major issues facing our community. In many ways, all of us were learning by doing, and there is no doubt that we all made mistakes – myself included.
Ms. Rosalind Brazel was recruited to the press secretary role as a former journalist. And while she brought years of experience to the role, the job of press secretary is unique among communications jobs – as any former press secretary can attest. It requires a rare combination of skills that, in many ways, can only be tested through the process of performing the role itself. There are countless examples of great reporters who have both succeeded and struggled when asked to serve as a press secretary.
Ms. Brazel is a talented communications professional and a hard worker who, at this point in her career, was not well-matched to the demands of the press secretary role, particularly for a brand new administration working to find its feet. This is neither a criticism of Ms. Brazel as a professional nor a commentary on her skills as a communicator.
While I take very seriously the charge of discrimination made by Ms. Brazel, I stand by my decision to make a change at the press secretary position during those early days as one of many changes necessary to bring greater structure and stability to the daily operations inside the Mayor’s Office.