EDITORIAL | Time has come for Murray to step down

About eight weeks ago in this space, we argued that, despite the allegations against him, Mayor Ed Murray should finish his term in office.

Our reasoning at the time was, in essence, that without the looming specter of a reelection campaign, there was little concern he would push certain parts of his platform to score political points in seek of a second-term.

That has seemed for the most part to be true — even though the rush to finish off an agreement on the redevelopment of KeyArena has seemed entirely unnecessary, as if the mayor is trying to notch an achievement in his belt before leaving office.

But our stance at the time also came with the assumption that the case against Murray wouldn’t heavily impact his ability to lead during his final months in office: an assumption that seemed more well-founded after accuser Delvonn Heckard withdrew his lawsuit in mid-June, with plans to refile early next year.

That has now changed.

While there was reason to take the earlier allegations seriously, there lacked an official paper trail or independent backing dating back the three decades to truly corroborate the claims.

But according to documents published by the Seattle Times on Sunday, a child welfare investigator in Oregon determined in the mid-80s that he had sexually abused his foster son, and a foster care specialist wrote that, “under no circumstances,” should Murray be a foster parent in the future.

A Multnomah County prosecutor ultimately decided against pursuing charges, but not because she did not believe the allegations of the accuser, Jeff Simpson, but that she was uncertain that she could meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt in court. This was because of his “emotional instability, history of manipulative behavior and the fact that he has again run away and made himself unavailable,” according to documents.

As Murray noted in his own statement on Sunday, that also does not mean necessarily she believed the claims to be true.

But, regardless of what Murray says, these documents do cast an entirely new shadow over his administration, and if the allegations themselves didn’t cast a pall over the remainder of his term, the allegations coupled with this report do.

This by no means is an allegation of guilt or innocence on our part, but that the weight of the allegations have now reached a point where we believe they will negatively impact Murray’s ability to lead to the point where he should step aside.

Council President Bruce Harrell, or another councilmember should he choose not to accept the responsibility, can serve admirably in Murray’s stead.

The latest revelations come as a distraction from other issues the city currently faces, but the only way to separate them from the workings of the city is for Murray to separate himself from the workings of the city.

If he doesn’t, we question whether any substantial progress on the myriad of problems Seattle is grappling with can actually be made.