Bruce Harrell's Web site touts him as a Sunday school teacher, a football and basketball coach for inner-city youth, and a Boys & Girls Club tutor. "For 30 years, I've been on the front-line helping kids and workers needing a voice," he says on the site.
As for his own kids—there, the situation is more complicated.
A profile published in the P-I last month said he has two children, Adam, 13, and Joyce, 10. But on his Web site, Harrell says he's the father of "three great kids." Here he includes a son that his wife, Joanne, had before they were married. "When my oldest son graduated from Seattle Public Schools I was filled with pride," Harrell says on the site. (His younger son currently attends Lakeside.)
Harrell also has a fourth child who doesn't appear in the campaign photos and isn't mentioned in his literature. Evan Harrell, 15, was born before Bruce and Joanne were married. He lives in Tacoma with his mom, Deborah Johnson, who says the campaign season has been tough on her. That's why a friend of hers ultimately contacted the Velázquez camp to call attention to the situation.
"It adds insult to injury for him to act like Evan doesn't exist," says Johnson, speaking by phone. She says Harrell has been diligent in paying child support over the years, but has had minimal face-to-face contact with her son—about three times in the past eight years.
"Bruce has a child who he doesn't acknowledge and doesn't spend time with," says Johnson. "He works with disadvantaged children to give them a voice, but Evan has no voice."
Harrell says he's never tried to hide anything. Still, he says, these personal details "aren't anyone's business." He says coaching and mentoring kids and having your own are two separate things: "I was just on the playfield last Saturday for three hours with about 80 kids. None of my kids were with me. I don't see it as a disconnect."Aimee Curl