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 District 2
Assumed office
Preceded by Peter Steinbrueck
Personal details
Born Seattle WA
Spouse(s) Joanne Harrell
Residence Seattle, WA
Occupation Seattle City Councilmember (District 2)

Bruce A. Harrell (born 1958) is a member of the Seattle City Council first elected in 2007[1] and re-elected in 2011.[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 earned the juris doctor degree from the University of Washington School of Law in 1984, was admitted to the Washington State Bar and practiced for 20 years, working as in-house counsel for US West, now CenturyLink, and then in private practice. 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]

2007 Election to Seattle City Council[edit]

Harrell worked for Seattle City Council in 1980. Harrell first ran for City Council in 2007. Harrell was endorsed by both The Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.[citation needed].Harrell won the general election by a 20 percent margin, with over 80,000 votes. He is the first member of Japanese descent on the Seattle City Council.

In 2013 Harrell ran for mayor without success.[10]

Energy and Technology 2008-Present[edit]

In 2008 when Harrell was first appointed Chair of Seattle City Light he authored 28 ordinances in just his first year.[11]

Harrell chaired the Energy and Technology Committee, responsible for overseeing Seattle City Light. He has led efforts to switch streetlights to Light Emitting Diode or LED lights.[12]

Harrell saved Seattle City Taxpayers $57 million dollars by refinancing its revenue bonds. Even with a historically low snow-pack year and an economy not seen since the Great Depression, prompt and prudent action by Harrell allowed City Light to retain its premium bond ratings of AA- (Standard and Poor) and Aa2 (Moody's).[13]

In 2010 Harrell created a $100 million Rate Stabilization Account (RSA) for Seattle City Light. The account provides protection for Seattle City Light customers from the volatility of the wholesale power market. In addition to providing an insurance program against the fluctuations of the wholesale power market, the fund also shores up the bond rating of City Light, allowing the utility to borrow at lower rates and ultimately deliver lower cost power to its electricity customers.[14]

In 2011 Harrell was the sponsor behind The Great Student Initiative. The program is establishes partnerships with technology companies and financial institutions to provide Internet access to the most vulnerable students in the Seattle Public Schools. It was Harrell’s leadership that allowed Seattle to be one of the first cities in the United States to address the technology inequity for young students through public/private partnerships. This unprecedented program will provide high-speed Internet service for $9.95 a month, 75 percent reduction from the average Internet cost, to students in the Seattle Public School District who are eligible for the free lunch program.[15]

Harrell adopted legislation to help expand high-speed fiber broadband networks. The changes made it easier for providers to enter the market by removing sin historical administrative requirements. Harrell pushed for incentives for smaller cabinets to deliver higher speeds.. All of Seattle will benefit, but the change initially helped CenturyLink launch one gigabit per second fiber internet service to Beacon Hill, the Central District, Ballard and West Seattle.

Harrell increased The City of Seattle's Technology matching fund from $175,000 to $325,000, supporting community efforts to close the digital divide and encourage a digitally healthy city.

Harrell’s leadership and ability to drive outcomes did not go unnoticed. As of 2012 Harrell was put in charge of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology committees. All three committees account for half of the City of Seattle’s annual budget.[16]

Civil Rights 2012-Present[edit]

Harrell authored the Race and Social Justice Legislation. requiring Seattle to evaluate all of its major actions for institutional racism and social disparities; the functional equivalent of an Environmental impact study. The legislation outlines the strategies and tools to address racial and social disparities.

Harrell authored the "ban the box" legislation.The bill was passed by the Seattle City Council on June 10, 2013. The bill provides job assistance to individuals with previous criminal records.[17] Chris Stearns, Chairman of the Seattle Human Rights Commission, said, "This bill is built on the same values that made Seattle great - respect, opportunity and work. It gives all people looking for work, including those who have made mistakes, the chance to be considered on the basis of their strengths not their weaknesses." [18] Merf Ehman, Civil Rights attorney at Columbia Legal Services said: "Councilmember Harrell showed tremendous courage, leadership and vision in moving this complex and controversial civil rights legislation forward. This legislation will change lives. People who have made mistakes now have an opportunity to support themselves and set an example for their children by becoming productive members of society. It makes the possibility for redemption a reality in our City," [19]

Under Harrell's leadership the Office of Immigrant and Refugee affairs was created. OIRA strives to strengthen Immigrant and Refugee communities. The office has engaged these communities in decisions about the City’s future and improving the City’s programs and services to meet the needs of all the Seattle’s residents.[20]

In 2014, Harrell was a sponsor on Seattle’s iconic $15.00 minimum wage legislation. Councilmember Harrell leadership and thorough examination of the bill was crucial in it becoming a catalyst for economic growth in Seattle.[21] "Councilmember Harrell, one of the unsung key people in the minimum wage campaign. A lot of people took a lot of credit for the minimum wage campaign, a lot of people didn't get credit, you didn't get enough credit for what you did in that committee. So I just want to thank you for that." Said David Freiboth, the Former Executive Secretary Treasurer of the King County Labor Council and Vice President of the Washington State Labor Council.[22]

Harrell passed a jobs bill to help people living in economically distressed areas establish and secure careers in the construction industry.

Harrell sponsored and passed Resolution 31224, reaffirming Seattle's commitment to full equal rights for all of its residents and employees regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Councilmember Harrell appointed the first members to the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities to promote the full participation of people with disabilities into all areas if economic, political and community life in the City of Seattle.

Harrell was behind passing Resolution 31541 that repealed all federal bans on public coverage of abortion and supporting efforts to improve access to public and private insurance coverage for comprehensive reproductive healthcare.

Public Safety 2012-Present[edit]

In 2013, Harrell introduced legislation to regulate the Seattle Police Department's use of drones and other surveillance measures in an effort to protect the public's civil liberties.[23]

Bruce Harrell has been instrumental in giving the local law enforcement the tools to protect and serve Seattle. Harrell has been pushing for "ShotSpotter" an acoustic gun shot locating system. It works by putting microphones in neighborhoods that pick up the sound of gun fire and alert police in seconds. Similar systems have been instituted in Los Angeles and Boston.[24]

Harrell assembled the frame work for the Common Sense Gun Safety Laws Seattle, Washington State and the U.S. Government can enact. Harrell lobbied the Washington State legislature to modify RCW 9.41.290, which had previously prevented Seattle from passing meaningful gun safety laws.

In 2015, Harrell was the sponsor on the Seattle Youth Prevention Initiative, lifting a budget condition on the Department of Neighborhoods’ Youth Violence Prevention. This measure added much needed flexibility and resources to the program, providing more opportunity for at risk youth.[25]

Under Harrell's stewardship of the Public Safety Committee and collaboration with the Seattle Police Department, crime rates are down 25% in Southeast Seattle. [26]

Harrell has been pushing for Police Body Cameras since 2010 even before Barack Obama. In 2011 Harrell wrote a letter to now former US Attorney Jenny Durkan asking for the Federal Government to mandate body cameras in Seattle.[27] Through years of Harrell's persistence Police Body Cameras are scheduled to be included in Seattle's City Budget for the 2016 fiscal year.

District 2 Transportation Funding[edit]

Councilmember Harrell was a 4-year regional leader on the Puget Sound Regional Council's Transportation Policy Board and fought for Seattle to receive over $32.5 million in federal funds for roads and transit

Harrell advocated and obtained for $23 million in pedestrian bike lane projects in District 2 Southeast Seattle. He obtained $16 million in Rainier Valley improvements and $5.7 million that will go towards MLK way.


  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. ^ "Bruce Harrell blasts Mayor McGinn over handling of Justice Dept.", June 28, 2013.
  11. ^ “Harrell Seattle City Light 2008 Ordinances.” August 18, 2015.
  12. ^
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ [3]
  16. ^ “2015-2016 proposed budget .“ August 18, 2015.
  17. ^ "Seattle City Council Passes Job Assistance Bill". City of Seattle. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "Councilmember Bruce Harrell - Job Assistance Legislation". Retrieved 2015-08-20. 
  19. ^ "Councilmember Bruce Harrell - Job Assistance Legislation". Retrieved 2015-08-20. 
  20. ^ ” Seattle City Council establishes Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.” Feb 6 , 2012.
  21. ^ “Ordinance 124490/”$15 Minimum wage ordinance.” June 2, 2014.
  22. ^ “Full Council session.” August 18, 2015.
  23. ^ "Councilmember Bruce Harrell proposes legislation to protect privacy concerns when drones are used". City of Seattle. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  24. ^ "ShotSpotter Gunshot Detection and Location Service | Protect Critical Infrastructure, Campuses, Cities". Retrieved 2015-08-20. 
  25. ^ “Safe Youth Seattle.” April 6, 2015.
  26. ^ [4]
  27. ^ [5]