Washington State Sen. Bob Hasegawa during a Senate Rules Meeting on March 3, 2015. • Courtesy Photo

Washington State Sen. Bob Hasegawa today has officially declared his candidacy for the Mayor of Seattle. The longtime South Seattle State Senator has entered the race declaring in a statement that “he believes that political empowerment and economic empowerment of people is the key to social justice and [he] has long been an outspoken advocate for corporate accountability and an economy built on a thriving, working middle class.” Hasegawa is a formidable late entry as the deadline to file for the race approaches on next Friday, May 19.

Hasegawa’s announcement comes as KING5 News reported that current Mayor Ed Murray may not seek reelection. KING5 said sources close the mayor’s office indicated that he would drop out of the race, a month after a Kent man filed a civil suit alleging Murray abused him sexually in the 1980s. Murray has denied the charges, saying they were politically motivated.

UPDATE (5/9/17 at 10:42 a.m.): Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has announced that he will not seek reelection, but will finish out his term. Murray said at a press conference at Alki Beach this morning that the upcoming election must focus on the issues, not on the scandal. “The allegations against me are not true,” Murray said.

Hasegawa stands out as a candidate with 12 years of experience in the Legislature and a reputation of being a progressive bridge-builder between different social justice movements and in the capitol. He has worked on a number of issues relating to labor, the environment, and religious and Asian Pacific Islander communities.

Hasegawa’s parents and grandparents were incarcerated in American concentration camps as a result of Executive Order 9066 during World War II. Hasegawa, a lifelong Beacon Hill resident, began his journey to public service as a part-time UPS warehouse worker and worked his way up through the ranks to become the elected Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 174, the largest freight drivers and warehouse workers union in the Pacific Northwest. According to a statement from Sen. Hasegawa’s campaign, his background taught him that “social justice organizing borrows from the number one principle of union organizing, ‘Solidarity will win us our victories.’”

As a Senator he has served the 11th district since first being elected in 2005. Frequently he is rated one of the state’s most progressive Senators, especially when it comes to racial equity, education, taxation, and finance. He also serves on the boards of the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington, the Japanese American Citizens League, and the Washington State Labor Council AFL-CIO. He is also a member of the state Election Administration and Certification Board and the Washington-Hyogo Friendship Council.

In Olympia, he has campaigned for a State Bank, intended to fund local projects and ease the burden on local governments. “The Washington Investment Trust will keep taxpayer dollars in our state working for Washingtonians instead of Wall Street,” Hasegawa said in January.

Hasegawa said in a statement that a municipal-bank, a local version of his signature state-bank legislation, would be one of the main goals of a Hasegawa city government. He has been a vocal critic of development around light rail and an advocate for affordable housing and police-accountability.

Hasegawa announced that be will hold a press conference on the steps of the Wells Fargo bank tomorrow, Tuesday May 9 at 2:00 p.m. The setting is alluding to what he says that his campaign aims to accomplish: “recapturing our political system that is rigged against us … building political power for the people and flipping the political paradigm to prove people can overcome money in politics.”

After an ugly Presidential race in 2016, the Seattle Mayoral race, at the beginning of 2017 was expected to be quiet and an easy reelection for Mayor Murray, who was visibly adding to his local policy resume and nationally prominent for standing up to the Trump Administration.

That leaves three other contenders for the Mayoral race: activist, attorney, poet, educator, and police-reform advocate, Seattle Peoples Party candidate, Nikkita Oliver; former Mayor, Sierra Club leader, and public-transit and Trump-Proof Seattle activist Mike McGinn; and, tunnel-critic and Moxie Media-backed candidate, Cary Moon. All three identify themselves as progressives and reflect an element of Seattle’s political spectrum.

Editor’s Note (5/9/17 at 9:11 a.m.): An edit was made to correct the time of Sen. Bob Hasegawa’s announcement from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

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