Mayor Bruce Harrell

Bruce Harrell was born in Seattle to an African American father who was one of the first Black union lineman at Seattle City Light, and a Japanese American mother who had been incarcerated at Minidoka during World War II. His mother "Rose" worked for the Seattle Public Library and was elected to the Seattle City Credit Union Board of Directors. He is Seattle's first Asian American and first biracial mayor and Seattle's second Black mayor.    

From an early age to today, Bruce has drawn from the experiences of his parents and lessons learned from his youth to challenge injustice, celebrate the diversity of our communities, and bring people together around our shared Seattle values.

The Harrell family lived in Seattle's redlined Central District, where Bruce graduated from Garfield High School in 1976 as valedictorian of his class. Bruce went on to attend the University of Washington on a football scholarship - declining offers from Harvard and Stanford to stay in his hometown. At the University of Washington, Bruce earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, won a Rose Bowl, and made the national Academic All-American First Team in football. In 2013, Bruce was inducted into the Pacific Northwest Football Hall of Fame as a College Player.   

Bruce later earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Washington School of Law. As an attorney, he spent his early career in technology and telecommunications as an in-house attorney. He later joined a downtown firm representing employees, youth, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations. He frequently served as a mentor and coach for students and young people across South Seattle.

Bruce was elected to the Seattle City Council in 2007 citywide, and re-elected twice, later serving his home district of South Seattle after City Council positions became districted. He was twice elected City Council President by his peers, one of just a few to ever serve multiple terms in that role. And, in 2017, Bruce served as interim mayor.

On the Council, Bruce was a leader on issues of racial equity, public safety reform, and economic and educational opportunity for all. He sponsored the law to "Ban the Box," led efforts to pass Seattle's first bias-free police law and was the first to advocate for the use of body cameras by SPD officers. He championed Seattle's Race and Social Justice legislation, requiring all Seattle policies to be reviewed through an equity lens.

Bruce was the first to enact the pilot program that eventually became the Seattle Promise, providing free college education to Seattle Public School students, and he originated the Great Student Initiative that provides 20,000 Seattle Public School students with access to computers and high-speed Internet access. He helped lead negotiations to pass the $15 minimum wage and supported other groundbreaking pieces of legislation to advance support for workers and small businesses before retiring from the Council in 2019.

In 2021, Bruce was elected mayor of Seattle on a commitment to address the homelessness crisis with urgency and compassion, to ensure public safety for all communities, and to restore trust, hope, and unity in local government and civic life. With a belief that we can accomplish more when we work together, Bruce is working every day to drive innovation and effective solutions addressing the challenges - and opportunities - in front of Seattle. He believes creating One Seattle will be critical to address the needs of the day; a Seattle where we embrace our differences and celebrate our commonality.  

Bruce and his wife Joanne are proud to be the parents of three children and the grandparents to two grandchildren.