Mayor Harrell’s “State of the City” speech on Tuesday started out leaning heavily on his campaign theme of unity and “One Seattle.” But while the new mayor could be accused of not delivering many specifics, his speech did offer glimpses into what may be ahead for the city.
Harrell landed heavily on public-safety problems, recognizing the need for more cops and saying, “the status quo is not acceptable.” He focused on a training class with 125 new officers in the coming year and with reestablishing “special teams that we need.” The most interesting take-away was that the mayor plans to set up a third public safety department, apparently modeling it after the Seattle Fire Department’s nurse navigation program that assists in calls with medical emergencies.
He addressed the homelessness crisis and the need for more regional solutions, as well working to obtain more federal and state support. He promised a more coordinated system for dealing with homelessness, rather than homeless problems addressed in “silos” and parceled out to six different city departments. He envisioned complaints, too, would have a more centralized system.
Harrell said that city employees will soon be returning to city offices and he’ll be bringing back the employees who have been working from home. Finally, he addressed city finances, granting that drawing up a balanced 2023 budget will be difficult and may require “finding more resources” despite the jump-start tax estimated to bring in $31 million more than estimated. He added one specific: an increase in the hospitality tax.