Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, a gay man with a long career in city and state politics, has decided not to seek a second term — a decision that comes amid sexual abuse allegations against him.
“It tears me to pieces to step away,” Murray said at a press conference Tuesday, The Seattle Lesbian reports. “I’m thankful for all we’ve achieved together. But we must look to the future and what’s best for the city we love.”
Murray, 62, said he will finish out his term, which runs through the end of the year. To choose the next Seattle mayor, a nonpartisan primary will be held August 1, with the top two candidates from the primary facing off in the general election November 7.
Murray, a Democrat, had served in the Washington State legislature, first the House, then the Senate, from 1997 until he was elected Seattle’s mayor in 2013. Before entering the legislature, he had been campaign manager for Cal Anderson, the state’s first openly gay lawmaker. Murray was the first openly gay mayor of Seattle.
He appeared headed to reelection until the sexual abuse accusations surfaced. Delvonn Heckard last month filed a lawsuit alleging that Murray “raped and molested” him beginning in 1986, when Heckard was 15 years old, according to The Seattle Times. Three other men have also claimed they were sexually abused by Murray in their youth.
Murray has said the allegations are untrue and politically motivated, and in his speech Tuesday, he said they “paint me in the worst possible historic portraits of a gay man,” The Seattle Lesbian reports.
Murray also highlighted his accomplishments regarding LGBT rights and other issues. “I’m happy because I have been part of some remarkable achievements,” ranging from a state “civil rights bill to the ring I wear on my finger,” he said, according to the Times. Murray married Michael Shiosaki in 2013; the men have been together for 24 years. Washington passed a marriage equality bill in 2012, and voters affirmed the law in a referendum held that year.
As mayor, Murray worked with business and labor leaders to make Seattle the first major U.S. city to implement a $15-an-hour minimum wage. He also worked on reforming the city’s police department to make it more accountable to citizens and made Seattle a center of resistance to Donald Trump, The Seattle Lesbian notes.
About a dozen candidates are seeking to succeed Murray, and former U.S. attorney Jenny Durkan, who is a lesbian, is expected to enter the race as well.