Seattle Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell announced more members of his Cabinet on Wednesday, appointing his final deputy mayor before he takes office next week.
Harrell, who was elected in November and will be mayor effective Saturday, announced a second wave of senior leadership appointments in a news release on Wednesday, after announcing the majority of his senior leadership earlier this month.
“Over the past several months, I have heard — in transition meetings and on the street, with city leaders and with everyday neighbors — calls for a representative and responsive city government. My executive team and cabinet are being built with that priority front of mind,” Harrell said in the release.
“I’m excited by the team of leaders we’ve convened to effectively move Seattle forward. In my administration, you’ll see our staff truly engage with the community — visible and accessible to all, empowered to take action, and committed to seeking the solutions that drive positive change.”
Among the new appointments, Harrell announced that Snohomish County Executive Director Kendee Yamaguchi will serve as deputy mayor of external relations. According to the release, Yamaguchi, a former city employee, will be tasked with “fostering strong and collaborative relationships between the City of Seattle and community groups, non-profit organizations, and local businesses.”
Harrell also announced that he will hire two former employees of his City Council office: Jennifer Samuels — who worked for Harrell when he was on the City Council and served at the Washington State Supreme Court as lead judicial aide to State Supreme Court Justice Robert F. Utter — as chief of staff, and Jeremy Racca — who worked for Harrell for seven years as a legislative aide and currently works for New York-based firm Clyde and Co — as legal counsel.
Former state legislator Gael Tarleton will serve as interim director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations.
“Gael Tarleton’s proven leadership will be a huge asset for Seattle,” Harrell said. “Her unique ability to build and sustain productive relationships will greatly enhance Seattle’s ability to increase its resources and develop favorable legislative policy.”
Harrell says he will also appoint Derrick Wheeler-Smith, director of King County’s Zero Youth Detention, as interim director of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (SOCR), to “focus on implementing the mayor-elect’s equity and justice priorities, including the Race and Social Justice Initiative, expanding housing and workforce opportunities, and delivering youth support and mentorship.”
SOCR Director Mariko Lockhart will rejoin the Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning as a deputy director.
“The combination of Ms. Lockhart’s previous leadership in education coupled with Mr. Wheeler-Smith’s leadership in equity work will produce outstanding results in our major equity initiatives with education and mentorship being primary components,” Harrell said.
Harrell will also hire DeVitta Briscoe to serve as a gun violence prevention liaison to address and prevent gun violence.
“There are few people and few leaders more committed to gun violence prevention than Ms. Briscoe,” said Harrell.
Briscoe lost her son Donald McCaney to gun violence in 2010 and her brother Che Taylor to police violence years earlier. She founded the Black Women’s Coalition to End Violence to address root causes of urban gun violence, according to the release.