Tim Burgess (politician)

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Tim Burgess
Tim Burgess Portrait (24588156840).jpg
55th Mayor of Seattle
In office
September 18, 2017 – November 28, 2017
Preceded byBruce Harrell (Acting)
Succeeded byJenny Durkan
Member of the Seattle City Council,
At-large Position 8
In office
January 1, 2016 – September 18, 2017
Succeeded byKirsten Harris-Talley
Member of the Seattle City Council,
Position 7
In office
January 1, 2008 – January 1, 2016
Preceded byDavid Della
Personal details
Born (1949-03-18) March 18, 1949 (age 70)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Other political
Spouse(s)Joleen Burgess
ResidenceQueen Anne, Seattle, Washington
OccupationRadio journalist, police officer

Timothy Burgess (born March 18, 1949) is an American journalist and politician from Seattle, Washington. He was a member of the Seattle City Council from 2007 to 2017, and served as Mayor of Seattle for 71 days in late 2017. Prior to his political career, Burgess was a radio journalist and Seattle Police Department officer.[1]

Burgess was appointed as mayor by the city council on September 18, 2017, to serve the remaining term of Ed Murray, who resigned amid a sexual abuse scandal. Burgess replaced the acting mayor, Council President Bruce Harrell, and served as mayor until the 2017 mayoral election results were certified on November 28.[2]

Burgess was first elected to the city council in November 2007[3] with 64% of the vote. He was re-elected with 83% of the vote to a second four-year term in November 2011.[4] Burgess chaired the City Council's Education and Governance Committee and was vice-chair of the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee. He was elected Council President by his colleagues for 2014–2015 and was also co-chair of the City's Family and Education Levy Oversight Committee.[5] Prior to his election to the City Council, Burgess chaired his neighborhood community council and served 12 years on Seattle's Ethics and Elections Commission.

Early life and career[edit]

Burgess was born to a working class, Christian family in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, the youngest of three brothers.[6] He described his family as "very poor", and their home was foreclosed when Burgess was 12 years old, moving into a rented home in Eastlake. Burgess graduated from Lincoln High School in Wallingford in 1967 and attended classes at North Seattle Community College before transferring to the University of Washington.[7][8][9] He volunteered for Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater during his youth, and was part of his middle school's Republican club.[9]

Burgess joined radio station KJR in the news department while in college, covering issues related to the Seattle Police Department, including corruption trials in county courts. He worked alongside with future councilmember and mayor Norm Rice and covered future county councilmember Larry Gossett during his time with the local Black Panthers.[7][8] After the election of mayor Wes Uhlman in 1970, Burgess left radio journalism and joined the Seattle Police Department as a police officer, seeking to be part of Uhlman's plans for reform. He dropped out of the University of Washington, eight credits short of a bachelor's degree in political science, due to a shift change.[8][9] Burgess partrolled in the High Point neighborhood of West Seattle for two years,[8] in what he described as an "eye-opening" experience seeing "the effects of violence, injustice, [and] poverty".[6][7] He moved to the police department's public relations arm in 1972, eventually serving as the press aid to Police Chief Robert Hanson from 1974 to 1978.[10][11] While with the police department, Burgess also served as a burglary detective.[12]

He left the police department in 1978 for World Concern, a Seattle-based Christian humanitarian organization working on anti-poverty initiatives, to work as a communications and public relations manager.[8][12] Burgess returned to Seattle in 1985 and started an advertising agency, Seattle, Burgess & Associates (later, The Domain Group), which he ran until selling the agency to Merkle in 2005.[8] The company had an annual revenue of $70 million and more than 200 employees at the time of its sale.[13]

Political career[edit]

Councilman Burgess in 2015

Burgess chaired the Queen Anne Community Council in the 1990s and served on the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission from 1989 to 2001, chairing the commission for five years.[14][15] Burgess publicly criticized city councilmembers for their ties to organized crime and campaign-finance violations during the Strippergate scandal of 2003,[16] taking a leading role in calling for accountability in his position as former ethics commissioner.[17][18]

Burgess began considering a run for the Seattle City Council in late 2006, while on a bike trip in Italy during his retirement.[8] He announced his candidacy in January 2007, intending to run against one-term incumbent David Della.[19] Burgess was the only challenger to Della, advancing automatically to the November general election.[20] Burgess was criticized by Della for his advertisement agency's work for a conservative Christian group that opposes abortion and gay marriage, despite Burgess's personal beliefs.[9][21] Burgess received the endorsement of The Seattle Times, along with several state and local politicians, and ultimately won in the election with 64 percent of votes.[9][22] The race for Position 8 was the most expensive in city council history,[9][23] with Burgess raising $64,000 of his $293,000 using his own money.[24]

Burgess was sworn in as a new councilmember in January 2008 and was elected to chair the Public Safety, Human Services and Education Committee.[25]

Burgess was re-elected by 83 percent of voters in the November 2011 election, defeating architect David Schraer.[26]

Burgess ran for mayor in the 2013 mayoral election, looking to unseat incumbent Mike McGinn, but dropped out before the primary filing deadline.[27] He endorsed Ed Murray,[28] who later was elected mayor. Burgess was named Council President from 2014 to 2015.[29] He was elected to a third term in 2015, defeating Jon Grant with over 60 percent of votes.[30] Burgess announced that he would not seek re-election in 2017, as he was one of the most senior councilmembers and sought to step aside and "move on".[31]

After the resignation of Mayor Ed Murray on September 12, 2017, Burgess was named as a leading candidate to become interim mayor until November. Council President and acting mayor Bruce Harrell declined to continue the term, and Burgess was elected to the role of mayor in a 5–1 vote of the city council on September 18, 2017.[1] His 71-day term as mayor, which he described as "accidental", included the signing of the 2018 budget.[32] After the certification of the 2017 mayoral election results on November 28, 2017, Jenny Durkan became mayor.

Personal life[edit]

Burgess married his wife Joleen, a former editor at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in 1979. They have three daughters and live on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle.[8]

Burgess is a Christian and attends church at a Presbyterian church on Queen Anne Hill on a weekly basis.[8] He described his faith in 2012 to The Stranger as being "absolutely anchored to forgiveness and grace".[8] He identified as a Republican early in his life, but later became a Democrat over his personal values.[8]


  1. ^ a b Beekman, Daniel (September 18, 2017). "Seattle City Council picks Tim Burgess to replace Bruce Harrell as temporary mayor". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  2. ^ DeMay, Daniel (September 18, 2017). "Seattle council picks Burgess as new interim mayor". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  3. ^ King County Election Results http://your.kingcounty.gov/elections/200711/resPage18.htm Accessed online 7 February 2010
  4. ^ King County Election Results http://your.kingcounty.gov/elections/elections/201111/respage29.aspx Accessed online 13 February 2012
  5. ^ "Seattle City Council Biography". Retrieved 2014-10-27.
  6. ^ a b Burgess, Tim (February 27, 2012). "Remarks by Councilmember Tim Burgess at Community Development Roundtable Luncheon" (PDF). Seattle City Council. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Barnett, Erica C.; Feit, Josh (May 2013). "Meet the Candidates: Tim Burgess". Seattle Met. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Sanders, Eli (July 11, 2012). "Is It Time for Tim Burgess?". The Stranger. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Norimine, Hayat (September 19, 2017). "Is Consensus Gone After Tim Burgess?". Seattle Met. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  10. ^ McNerthney, Casey (September 18, 2017). "Tim Burgess becomes mayor of Seattle". KIRO 7 News. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  11. ^ Wilson, John (October 17, 1974). "Hanson reportedly OK'd taping of meeting". The Seattle Times. p. A1.
  12. ^ a b Evans, Walt (October 24, 1978). "A benefit for some life-saving hardware". The Seattle Times. p. A10.
  13. ^ "Merkle Acquires the Domain Group, a Seattle-based Fundraising Agency" (Press release). Merkle. October 6, 2005. Retrieved September 19, 2017 – via BusinessWire.
  14. ^ Miletich, Steve; Brunner, Jim (August 5, 2003). "Seattle City council members to return donations". The Seattle Times. p. B1. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  15. ^ Barnett, Erica C.; Feit, Josh (March 18, 2013). "A Cola Q&A with Tim Burgess". Seattle Met. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  16. ^ Pian Chan, Sharon (March 24, 2008). "Seattle to revisit election finance". The Seattle Times. p. B1. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  17. ^ Kershaw, Sarah (August 27, 2003). "A Tale of Sex, Money and Politics, in 'Mayberry'". The New York Times. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  18. ^ Brunner, Jim (July 15, 2005). "Public hearings sought regarding "Strippergate"". The Seattle Times. p. B3. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  19. ^ Young, Bob (February 28, 2007). "New-viaduct foe Steinbrueck won't run again". The Seattle Times. p. B1. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  20. ^ Pian Chan, Sharon (August 22, 2007). "Incumbents way ahead; Position 3 the hot race". The Seattle Times. p. A10. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  21. ^ Pian Chan, Sharon (October 23, 2007). "Aggressive attacks frequent as Della, Burgess square off". The Seattle Times. p. B1.
  22. ^ Pian Chan, Sharon (November 7, 2007). "Harrell, Burgess defeat opponents". The Seattle Times. p. A10.
  23. ^ Pian Chan, Sharon (January 10, 2008). "Donation-cap issue divides election panel". The Seattle Times. p. B5.
  24. ^ Galloway, Angela (November 6, 2007). "Seattle City Council: Burgess beating Della; Velazquez losing". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  25. ^ "Council elects Conlin president". The Seattle Times. January 8, 2008. p. B3. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  26. ^ Fikse, Matt A. (November 8, 2011). "A Seattle election that cements the stalemate". Crosscut.com. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  27. ^ Radil, Amy (May 17, 2013). "Tim Burgess Won't Seek Mayor's Office". KUOW. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  28. ^ Berger, Knute (October 17, 2013). "Ed Murray lands endorsement of Seattle's neighborhood superhero". Crosscut.com. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  29. ^ Conklin, Ellis E. (June 9, 2015). "Is Tim Burgess Liberal Enough for Seattle?". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  30. ^ Beekman, Daniel (November 10, 2015). "Grant concedes to Burgess in Seattle City Council race". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  31. ^ Beekman, Daniel (December 12, 2016). "Seattle Councilmember Tim Burgess won't seek re-election". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  32. ^ Norimine, Hayat (November 22, 2017). ""I'm the Accidental Mayor": Burgess Says Goodbye to City Hall". Seattle Met. Retrieved November 27, 2017.

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