Paul Schell

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Paul E. S. Schell
Seattle Mayor Paul Schell, 1999.jpg
50th Mayor of Seattle
In office
January 1, 1998 – January 1, 2002
Preceded byNorm Rice
Succeeded byGreg Nickels
Personal details
Paul Schlachtenhaufen

(1937-10-08)October 8, 1937
Pomeroy, Iowa, U.S.
DiedJuly 27, 2014(2014-07-27) (aged 76)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materUniversity of Iowa
Columbia Law School
Professionlawyer, urban planner, real estate developer

Paul E. S. Schell (born Paul Ervin Schlachtenhaufen;[1] October 8, 1937 – July 27, 2014) was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 50th mayor of Seattle, Washington from 1998 to 2002.

Early life and education[edit]

The oldest of six children of Lutheran minister Ervin Schlachtenhaufen and nurse Gertrude Reiff Schlachtenhaufen, Paul Schell grew up in the small farm town of Pomeroy, Iowa and graduated from Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa. He attended Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, where he played linebacker on the school football team. He also worked as a short-order cook and a fireman. Schell transferred to the University of Iowa where he completed his undergraduate degree.

After graduation he went on to law school at Columbia University in New York. There he met his future wife, Pam, a registered nurse. They married on the day he graduated from law school — a double celebration scheduled so his father would have to pay for only one plane ticket.


In New York, Schell took a position at the Dewey Ballantine law firm, where he specialized in corporate finance. During his time there, he shortened his surname "Schlachtenhaufen" to "Schell," a change he described as "practical, not political," since the longer name wouldn't fit on computer punch cards used at the time. He worked as a summer law clerk in Portland.

In 1967, Paul and Pam Schell moved to Seattle so he could take a job with the Perkins Coie law firm, practicing business and securities law. Their daughter Jamie joined the family in January 1971.

After a few years with the Perkins firm, Schell left to help form a new law firm: Hillis, Schell, Phillips, Cairncross, Clark and Martin.

He also engaged in civic activism. He joined other urban activists with Allied Arts of Seattle in the 1971 campaign to save the Pike Place Market from a proposed redevelopment. He left legal practice for civic affairs in 1973, when Mayor Wes Uhlman appointed him as director of the Seattle Department of Community Development. During his term with DCD, Schell oversaw the Market's preservation and rebuilding. As President of Allied Arts of Seattle, he led the successful effort to establish "One Percent for Art" in 1973 — with Seattle becoming one of the first cities to adopt a program to fund public art, which has since become the national standard. A member of the Democratic Party, Schell first ran for mayor in 1977, but lost to Charles Royer.[2]

In 1979 he founded Cornerstone Development Company, serving as president 1979-87. Among projects located in Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland, Cornerstone developed Waterfront Place, a 6-block mixed-use project located on Seattle's central waterfront and incorporating six restored buildings, the new 22-story Watermark Tower, and the Alexis Hotel.[3][4] In 1989, Schell developed the highly successful Inn at Langley, and later the Boatyard Inn, on Whidbey Island. He also played a key role in establishing the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.

In 1989 Schell won election as Commissioner for the Port of Seattle. He became commission president in 1995. He accepted appointment as Dean of the University of Washington College of Architecture and Urban Planning, serving 1993-96. During that time he established the UW's Office of Sustainability and enhanced the Rome Studies Program. He also supported the initiation of the Real Estate program and the Center for Environment, Education, and Design Studies.

Schell succeeded in being elected to serve a four-year term as mayor commencing January 1, 1998.[2][3][5] During Schell's mayoral term, the City of Seattle built its new City Hall, the Seattle Justice Center, and several libraries, including the downtown library (via a $196 million Libraries for All bond campaign); invested $200 million in new parks and added six new community centers; rebuilt the Opera House and Seattle Symphony Hall, developed QWest Field, passed 26 new neighborhood plans, with resulting improvements via a $198 million levy for parks and the zoo. He also championed a $72 million effort that combined public and private dollars to renovate the Seattle Center Opera House and community centers, and initiated development of the Olympic Sculpture Park. In addition, he helped gain the transactions that resulted in Vulcan's development of South Lake Union. Mayor Schell also participated in the design charrette for the new Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Traffic Control Tower, commissioned in 2004.

The Schells' engagement in Seattle cultural life included major support to the rise of The Intiman Theatre.

Also during his term the WTO Meeting of 1999 took place, accompanied by widespread violent protests that gained national attention. It caused the resignation of Seattle police chief Norm Stamper; Stamper said that was a previously planned retirement.[6] A particularly violent Mardi Gras celebration in 2001 left 20-year-old Kris Kime fatally injured; Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske ordered officers not to intervene.[7] Arguably, the WTO meeting and the Mardi Gras violence played a role in Schell's coming in a distant third behind two other Democrats in the 2001 mayoral primary election,[8] as did Boeing's relocation of its headquarters to Chicago.[6][7][9]

It was the first time in over 65 years that an incumbent Seattle mayor had failed to survive a primary election.[9] During the campaign, Schell was assaulted by a political opponent, a fringe mayoral candidate named James Garrett (a.k.a. Omari Tahir-Garrett). Garrett struck Schell in the face with a bullhorn he had been using to heckle the mayor, breaking bones under his right eye. Garrett was later convicted of second-degree assault and sentenced to 21 months in prison.[10][11][12]

His mayoral predecessor Charles Royer assessed Schell's term in a January 2002 interview in The Seattle Times; "Paul is smart. Maybe the smartest mayor we've ever had. ... [I]n his one term, Paul Schell got more done than any first-term mayor has a right to expect. The former developer not only got the new City Hall complex started, he led an impressive effort to build a new and important downtown library, rebuild the branches and renovate and build the community centers. He led the effort to fund a record $200 million in new parks, rebuilt the aging Opera House, and in a stunning victory that future generations will celebrate, preserved the 90,000 acres of the pristine Cedar River watershed." [13]


Schell died at the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, Washington following heart surgery on July 27, 2014 at the age of 76.[14]


At the time of Schell's death, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray issued a statement with an appreciation of Schell's range of community service: "Schell will be remembered as one of the great city builders of the Pacific Northwest. As a citizen activist, lawyer, director of community development, port commissioner, dean of architecture and mayor he directly shaped the civic infrastructure of Seattle for more than 40 years.

"Schell's greatest professional accomplishment has been the infrastructure that he built and influenced. The first Libraries for All campaign was a brainchild of Schell's, establishing and building a new downtown library and rebuilding branches throughout the city. He led the effort to fund Seattle's first parks levy, rebuild the opera house and was instrumental in building the Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle's City Hall and Justice Center.

"During his time as mayor, Schell helped develop Seattle's 37 neighborhood plans, laying the foundation for the strong neighborhood system that is seen today. Schell was not only committed to the infrastructure, but also to the people of Seattle. He worked tirelessly to increase service for Seattle's homeless and immigrant communities, bringing them much-needed services."

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Mayors of the City of Seattle, Seattle City Archives. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
  3. ^ a b J. Martin McOmber, in the cited article "Paul Schell: Midnight At Midterm?..." counts him as the 54th mayor. Presumably the difference is in how those who served non-successive terms are counted.
  4. ^ Alex Fryer, Susan Byrnes, "Schell Built Big, But Projects Lost Big", Seattle Times, 1997-10-14. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
  5. ^ "5279-00: Paul Schell", 5200: Office of the Mayor Archived June 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Seattle City Archives. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
  6. ^ a b Kit Oldham, WTO Meeting and Protests in Seattle (1999) – Part 2, HistoryLink, 2009-11-13. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Violence at Mardi Gras, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Special Report. See especially Lewis Kamb, 'No more Fat Tuesday,' mayor declares, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2001-03-01 and Kery Murakami, Nickels on Mardi Gras: 'It's about leadership', Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2001-03-09. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b Timothy Egan, Primary Voters Reject Seattle Mayor After One Term, The New York Times, 2001-09-20. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
  10. ^ Nancy Bartley, Mr. Schell also used his position to secure a 99-year lease on the grain terminals in Seattle for Cargill Corporation; this is convenient considering the price deregulation on grain driving food riots globally. "Suspect in Schell attack faces bail of $250,000", Seattle Times, 2001-07-11. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 6, 2012. Retrieved April 8, 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), KOMO News, 2002-07-31, updated 2006-08-31. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
  12. ^ Alex Fryer, "Garrett gets maximum term, vows 'I'll be back' ", Seattle Times, 2002-04-03. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
  13. ^ The Seattle Times interview
  14. ^ Ellison, Jake. "Paul Schell, Seattle mayor during 1999 WTO riots, has died - Strange Bedfellows — Politics News". Retrieved July 28, 2014.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Norm Rice
Mayor of Seattle
Succeeded by
Greg Nickels