Bruce Harrell

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This article is about the politician of Washington state. For the Louisiana accountant, see Bruce C. Harrell.
Bruce A. Harrell
Bruce Harrell 02.jpg
Bruce Harrell, 2011
Member of the Seattle City Council for position 3
Assumed office
Preceded by Peter Steinbrueck
Personal details
Spouse(s) Joanne Harrell
Residence Seattle, WA
Occupation Seattle City Councilmember (Position 3)

Bruce A. Harrell (born 1958) is a member of the Seattle City Council. He was first elected in 2007[1] from a field of five candidates. In 2011, Councilmember Harrell was re-elected.[2] He is chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee, serves as vice chair of the Transportation Committee and serves as a member of the Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee. Between 2008-2011, he served as chair of the Energy, Technology, and Civil Rights Committee and was responsible for oversight of Seattle City Light, the city’s public power utility and the city’s Department of Information and Technology.[3] He also sits on the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Executive Board, chairs Performance First, a partnership to support minority-owned businesses, and is the Northwest Regional Director for the National Technology Adoption Advisory Council.[4]

Bruce is married to Joanne Harrell and they are raising their family in the Mt. Baker neighborhood.

Early life and education[edit]

Born and raised in Seattle, Harrell attended Garfield High School where he graduated valedictorian in 1976.[5]

He went on to attend the University of Washington where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 1980 and made the national Academic All-American First Team in football. Harrell furthered his education and received a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Washington School of Law in 1984 where he was then admitted to the Washington State Bar Association and practiced in the state of Washington for 20 years working first for US West, now CenturyLink, and then in a private practice prior to running for political office.

In 1994, Harrell earned a Master’s degree in Organizational Design and Improvement from City University of Seattle.

In 2007, Harrell received the University of Washington Distinguished Alumni Award, in 2012 Harrell won the University of Washington's Timeless Award Winner,[6] and in 2013 he was inducted into the NW Football Hall of Fame.[7]

Legal and community experience[edit]

After attending law school, Harrell joined US West, now CenturyLink, in 1987. There, Harrell achieved the positions of Counsel, Senior Attorney and Chief Counsel. Harrell served as chief legal advisor to the Rainier Valley Community Development Fund, chief legal advisor to the First A.M.E. Church and First A.M.E. Housing Corporation,[8] Chief Counsel to US West, and general counsel to the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Zeta Pi Lambda chapter.

In addition to his legislative responsibilities, Harrell serves as Chair of the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Performance First Committee: a business development strategy of PSRC’s Prosperity Partnership; Advisory Board Chair for CASASTART; a focused strategy for youth with behavioral challenges at Seattle Public Schools; and, member of the Social Action Committee for First A.M.E. Church.[9]

Public service and 2007 election to Seattle City Council[edit]

Harrell began his public service in 1980 by working for the Seattle City Council under then-Council President Paul Kraabel. After working in the community and gaining 20 years of experience in the private sector as an attorney, Harrell decided to run for City Council in 2007.

During Harrell’s first campaign in 2007, he gained the sole endorsements of The Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.[citation needed] Known for having the most volunteers in his campaign, Harrell raised $290,077[10] and out-raised all of his opponents, winning the general election by a 20 percent margin, while capturing over 80,000 votes.

Harrell was elected to the Seattle City Council in 2007. He is the first member of Japanese descent to serve on the Seattle City Council. On the Council Harrell has chaired the Energy and Technology Committee which is responsible for overseeing Seattle City Light. He has led efforts to switch streetlights to Light Emitting Diode or LED lights.[11]

Harrell sponsored a Race and Social Justice Resolution in November 2009 affirming the City's commitment to eliminating racial and social disparities and heightening the City of Seattle's awareness of disparities across key indicators of success including health, education, criminal justice, the environment, employment, and the economy.[12] The Resolution also required the Chair of the City Council committee in charge of civil rights, or his or her designee, to serve as a member of the Race and Social Justice Community Roundtable, a group of individuals committed to racial and social justice from community-based organizations, philanthropy, education, business, and other public entities.[13]

On May 4, 2011, Harrell launched the Great Student Initiative, an effort by the City of Seattle to create partnerships with technology companies and financial institutions to provide low-cost Internet access for the most vulnerable students in Seattle Public Schools.[14]

In early 2013, when the City Council found out that the Seattle Police Department had acquired several aerial drones through a federal grant,[15] Harrell introduced progressive legislation to regulate the Seattle Police Department's use of drones in an effort to protect the public's civil liberties.[16]

In April 2013, the National Partnership for Women & Families released a study that found that Seattle had the worst gender pay gap out of the largest 50 metropolitan areas in the United States.[17] In response, Harrell asked the Seattle Women's Commission to develop a work plan with him and create policy recommendations to address the issue.[18]

Harrell's sponsored Job Assistance Bill was passed by the Seattle City Council unanimously on June 10, 2013. The bill increases public safety and reduces criminal recidivism by providing job assistance to individuals with previous criminal records.[19]

After winning a second term on the council in 2011, Councilman Harrell launched a campaign for mayor of Seattle in 2013.[20]


  1. ^ King County Election Results
  2. ^ "King County Election Results". 
  3. ^ Seattle City Council Website
  4. ^ Carter, Evan. "One Economy Launches National Technology Adoption Advisory Council (NTAAC) of 80 Leading Elected Officials". One Economy Corporation. One Economy Corporation. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Wahman, Wendy. "The Linebacker: Bruce Harrell". 
  6. ^ University of Washington Department of Political Science Website
  7. ^ "Bruce Harrell inducted to Pacific Northwest Football Hall of Fame". 
  8. ^ "Biography". City of Seattle. 
  9. ^ "Biography". City of Seattle. 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Resolution Number: 31164". City of Seattle. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  13. ^ "Resolution Number: 31164". City of Seattle. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  14. ^ "Councilmember Harrell to launch Great Student Initiative". City of Seattle. 
  15. ^ Madrid, Cienna. "City Council Passes Bill Defining Drone, Surveillance Use". The Stranger. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  16. ^ "Councilmember Bruce Harrell proposes legislation to protect privacy concerns when drones are used". City of Seattle. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  17. ^ "Seattle Women and the Wage Gap" (PDF). The National Partnership for Women & Families. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "Councilmember Harrell sees gender pay gap as a top priority". Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  19. ^ "Seattle City Council Passes Job Assistance Bill". City of Seattle. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  20. ^ "Bruce Harrell blasts Mayor McGinn over handling of Justice Dept.", June 28, 2013.