The deadline for candidate filing is mere minutes away, and since our last Slog poll, there's been a new alignment of power in the mayor's race. First, in today's big news, Council Member Tim Burgess is dropping out. Meanwhile, the long-shot, capitalism-smashing socialist Mary Martin recently jumped in. And finally, two completely random people filed this afternoon. The first never-heard-of-'em is named Joey Gray, who is apparently with a group called Cyclistas, and the next is Doug McQuaid (he ran against—and lost against—Susan Owens for the state supreme court last year). Welcome, radicals!
That makes this list—provided no one else files in the next few minutes—the likely lineup on your primary ballot:
1. Joey Gray
2. Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell
3. Kate Martin
4. Mary Martin
5. Mayor Mike McGinn
6. Doug McQuaid
7. State senator Ed Murray
8. Charlie Staadecker
9. Former city council member Peter Steinbrueck
Why wait till August? Vote now!
Originally posted at 1:33 pm and moved up with updates.
Tim Burgess withdrew his bid for mayor today, the last day candidates are eligible to file election campaigns, thereby leaving a wide-open gap for candidates vying for conservative votes and funding.
The Seattle City Council member took a parting shot at Mayor Mike McGinn, naturally. "It is critically important that we elect a new mayor," he said in a statement this afternoon. "However, with so many qualified candidates in the field, my continued candidacy may dilute the chance of achieving the positive change Seattle needs. After much deliberation, I have chosen not to continue as a candidate. Instead, I will continue to serve this city that I love from my position on the City Council, the most rewarding job of my life."
Although the statement sounds altruistic, it seems Burgess knew he couldn't win.
From his botched announcement last November to this abrupt end, Burgess's campaign never caught the tailwind many expected. He was considered a leading challenger last year—a sort of mayor in waiting, after Mayor McGinn's two years of floundering—but McGinn seems to have found sea legs at City Hall, and a pack of heavyweight contenders crowded into the race in January and February. In particular, state senator Ed Murray and to a lesser extent Council Member Bruce Harrell have emerged in the race as safe bets for institutional backers that represent downtown business, and, unlike Burgess, can't be portrayed as conservative outliers (Burgess infamously sponsored a controversial aggressive panhandling bill that failed in 2010).
Burgess has also been unraveling this week.
After the news that the 36th District—Burgess's home district—would split its endorsement between him and Murray, yesterday came the news from PubliCola that Burgess fired his spokesman. And then the 46th District Democrats, who represent the relatively wealthy, white district of northeast Seattle that seems like Burgess's base, didn't endorse him at all. Also the city council's biggest advocate to bring back the Sonics, Burgess took a blow when the NBA nixed the deal Wednesday.
Wednesday night was also a poor, petulant showing for Burgess. I was emceeing a mayoral straw poll at the Phinney Ridge Community Center when I asked Burgess about his divisive actions in the last few years that belie his campaign theme of collaboration. Specifically, Burgess booted the city budget director Beth Goldberg from his finance meetings last fall. I said it appeared unprecedented. Burgess insisted I was wrong; he said he blocked the budget director from only one meeting, and then, apparently flustered after the questioning, he told me to "go fuck yourself." Granted, I had it coming: I was wearing a shirt that said "The NBA can go fuck itself." But he didn't say it like a joke—he seemed pissed. And when I followed up by e-mail to ask if he could prove I was wrong—that kicking out the budget director had precedent and that it was only one meeting—he didn't reply. City records show that Burgess held seven budget meetings without the budget director, not just one. In other words, he was wrong, he was angry, and then he went silent. Not very mayoral.
Burgess had raised more money that anyone else in the race ($232,000, according to the latest election reports), but most of it was already spent, with a $100,250 reported balance. Meanwhile, Murray's fundraising has been frozen through the legislative session, and Murray is widely expected to be a fundraising power house through the summer months leading up to the August primary.
Paradoxically, Burgess quitting could benefit Mayor McGinn more than anyone else in the primary. Although McGinn is generally considered to be on the liberal end of the spectrum of candidates, he got 34 percent of the Republican support in a March SurveyUSA poll. Burgess was second among Republicans with 15 percent. If those fiscally conservative voters flock to McGinn—who's run a tight budget and famously fought the expensive deep-bore tunnel project—it may give him the boost needed to push through to the general election.
Last night, the 46th District Democrats—the party's grassroots apparatus in northeast Seattle—handed out a dual endorsement to two of the dudes running for mayor: former Seattle City Council member Peter Steinbrueck and state senator from the 43rd District Ed Murray. The 46th is the first to issue endorsements, but it's a good omen for Murray, who also got a recommendation from the 36th District Democrats' executive board last week (along with Council Member Tim Burgess). In related partisan enthusiasm, the 37th District Democrats are holding an endorsement meeting for their Southeast Seattle constituents on Monday.
If there's one thing we've always known about state Senator Ed Murray, it's that he has the potential to raise an awful lot of money awfully fast. And he didn't disappoint during the fundraising-freeze break between the end of the regular legislative session and today's start of the special session, raising $103,693 in only two weeks for his campaign to unseat Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.
To put that in perspective, that's more than Tim Burgess, Bruce Harrell, and McGinn raised during the entire month of April. Combined.
For an apples to apples comparison, following is a table of the mayoral fundraising totals through the end of April. (Note: It only includes Murray's April 29-30 totals, not the remaining $97,150 he's raised in May.)
|Candidate||Total Raised||Net Balance|
Add in his May totals and Murray has raised $221,123 total, likely bringing his net balance north of $140,000 (there's no word on his expenditures). That said, the other candidates have presumably been raising cash the past couple weeks as well, if at a dramatically slower pace. Now that the special session has started, Murray is prohibited from raising money again, giving the other candidates an opportunity to catch up.
The event felt like a party more than a fundraiser for Murray's mayoral campaign: People excitedly toasted R-74 as if it were yesterday's victory, instead of last year's. They toasted Murray and his track record in Olympia. They toasted his upcoming marriage to long-time partner Michael Shiosaki, which Murray announced will take place four days after the August 6 primary this year. They lavished praise on Murray in questionable metaphor: "He's an orb," one man told me. "He's on the fast track. He's the heavy favorite and he's running fast. This is what victory looks like."
They cuttingly dismissing his competitors: "Look at Bruce's endorsement list—it's basically every person of color who's lost a race in the last 10 years."
And McGinn? "We can do better," became the refrain of the night, a refrain echoed by Rep. Cyrus Habib (D-Bellevue) and Murray himself: "On the streets around this condo, people sleep because they have nowhere else to sleep," Murray said while stumping to the crowd. "We can do better."
But as much as everyone loves a party, this was a fundraiser, and one an undercurrent of urgency that's been missing in the city's crowded clown-car of a mayor's race. You see, Murray has until midnight on Sunday to raise money for his mayoral campaign, after which he will turn back into a sweaty pumpkin known as Senator Ed Murray, a man tasked with drafting a new state budget with his colleagues around a $1.2 billion budget deficit.
Sen. Murray can't raise campaign funds while the legislature is in its 30-day session, and with only $117,430 in recorded donations, he's trailing behind Tim Burgess (who's raised $194,559), McGinn ($153,781), and Charlie Staadecker ($132,126).
The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission releases its new contribution numbers for all the candidates today, so those numbers could soon change. Nevertheless, "We must raise at least twice as much as the other guys raise in a month," explained Murray's campaign manager, Sandeep Kaushik, last night. "So that's what we're going to do."
The executive board of the influential 36th District Democrats, which represent the neighborhoods of Queen Anne, Magnolia, and Ballard, recommended last night that the organization endorse two challengers in the mayor's race: Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess and 43rd District state senator Ed Murray. Assuming the endorsement is ratified by a majority of membership on May 22, the group will use its 150 precinct committee officers (PCOs) for a door-knocking campaign to support them. The 36th District had the highest voter turnout in Washington State last year.
Incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn didn't get the executive board's nod, which isn't inherently surprising. The group also dissed incumbent former mayor Greg Nickels in the 2009 race (they endorsed McGinn and Joe Mallahan instead).
But the board did recommend incumbents in every other race, from city council to King County sheriff. Their recommendations are listed here.
Spotted in Wallingford this weekend...
Does mayoral candidate Peter Steinbrueck even make his own pizza, as he has publicly claimed? Is this campaign car parked right outside a pizza parlor there to pick up pizza in the dead of
night noon and ferret it away to an undisclosed kitchen, where Pizza Peter will pass it off as his own?
And what are all those bumper stickers? HIPPIE CONSPIRACY.
Unlike Goldy, I didn't attend the first mayoral panel of the season on Monday, but I've been slowly making my way through the Seattle Channel video archive of the event by piece and parcel, with my own bucket of stale popcorn.
And there's one question—or rather, one response—that I don't think has gotten nearly enough attention. It comes at about the 52:30 mark, when moderator C.R. Douglas asks Charlie Staadecker, Tim Burgess, and Bruce Harrell to respond to this question:
Why do you think Seattle has the worst gender pay gap in the US and how do you plan to address it?
I really wish all candidates had responded to this question. Amidst fluffy questions about what people had stored on their iphones, professional regrets, or what their fantasy legacy as mayor might be, this was one of the most concrete questions of the night—the rare question that gave candidates a chance to talk policy while addressing an issue of injustice affecting half their voter base.
As it was, two out of three candidates flubbed their responses, hard.* Staadecker admitted that he didn't know the issue existed: "First of all, I will confess, I was not aware as a city that we were the worst in the United States. Therefore, if women aren’t being paid, if there’s a glass ceiling, that has to be through education and skills."
Worse, Burgess said this: "Well, if everybody had daughters like I did the problem would self correct, eventually." In other words, most women must not be as smart as Burgess's daughters? Or work as hard as them? Or something?
To be clear, I'm all for tasteless jokes—I make them, I love them. But if you're going to lead with a tasteless joke, you'd better have a solid answer to back it up. Burgess doesn't. Instead he throws some rambling praise for early learning programs, which are great but have nothing to do with addressing the gender/wage gap. At all. At least Staadecker had the grace to admit he didn't know what the fuck he was talking about. Burgess's answer was more than embarrassing; it was insulting, dismissive, and off point.
Only Harrell managed an articulate answer, for which he was rewarded with the biggest applause of the night: "The answer is simple—institutional practices. We haven’t paid attention to the institutional practices. Here’s the difference between the mayor and myself—when I read the report, I immediately went into action. I’ve asked the Seattle Women’s commission to develop a work plan with me to look at the policy changes we have to do."
I have no doubt this question will come up again and when it does, Burgess and Staadecker will be ready for it. Everyone will. The seven candidates fighting for McGinn's seat have months to groom themselves and polish their answers to suit our ears, which is why questions like this, which catch candidates completely, embarrassingly unaware (you want us to talk about women troubles? wha?), matter so much.
*Read their full, unedited responses after the jump.
A standing room only crowd overflowed into the corridors at the Georgetown campus of South Seattle Community College last night for the first public forum of the 2013 mayoral campaign. And if there's anything to learn from last night's event it's that while interest in the race is high, the policy distinctions between the major candidates are few.
"People want to believe again," proclaimed Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell in an inspired moment of passion. But apart from former council member Peter Steinbrueck's scornful rejection of the Sodo arena deal, the challengers mostly failed to differentiate themselves from the mayor on what they specifically planned to do with the office. Hope and no change—that pretty much sums up the theme of a campaign that promises to focus on the incumbent's interpersonal skills while articulating little substantive difference on policy or values.
The Cascade Bicycle Club, which has 15,000 members and generally makes the bike-hating Seattle Times go ballistic, issued four early endorsements today in this year's races for mayor and city council. They're not shocking choices:
· Mike McGinn – Mayor
· Sally Bagshaw – Seattle City Council, Position #4
· Richard Conlin – Seattle City Council, Position #2
· Mike O’Brien – Seattle City Council, Position #8
Yes, it's totally predictable for a bicycle lobby to bless the reelection of a mayor who ran with a "Mike Bikes" campaign slogan, but it's not because he or the council have been amazing for bicycles. The city's Bicycle Master Plan, created in 2007, has barely been funded. At five years into the 10-year plan, we've paid for only $36 million of the $240 million goal. That's less than one-quarter of the funding it needs. And only now is the city promising one "north-south cycle track route and an east-west route through downtown," the mayor recently said.
I'm guessing that it's not that McGinn has been so great. To me, it seems, the rest of the mayoral candidates—particularly Senator Ed Murray, Council Member Bruce Harrell, and Council Member Tim Burgess—disqualified themselves by stubbornly hawking bills to spend billions of dollars on freeway projects.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn isn't exactly thrilled with City Council member and mayoral challenger Tim Burgess's new transportation plan. "Really, it's a great transportation plan," insists McGinn, "for 1975."
"There's no rail transit in it," McGinn complains about a "Plan for the Future" that apparently sees no future in rail. The topic of rail did come up at yesterday's press conference—specifically the question of extending rapid transit to Ballard—but Burgess claimed to be mode-agnostic. Burgess said he'd support whatever the studies recommend, "rubber or rail."
But that's not the mayor's only critique. McGinn characterizes Burgess's call for more transportation funding as hypocritical in the face of Burgess's successful 2009 effort to repeal the Head Tax and the $4.5 million a year in transportation spending it once produced. And he describes Burgess's focus on pothole repair as both sudden and unworkable.
"The first time Tim Burgess showed any interest in potholes was when he found one outside his campaign office," quips McGinn.
Burgess has proposed abandoning the city's current complaint-based pothole repair system for a grid-based system modeled on Seattle City Light's program of fixing street lamps a neighborhood at a time. But McGinn worries that this could leave the worst potholes unfilled while crews are busing patching less severely damaged streets. "We want to provide customer service," says McGinn.
Burgess also points to the City of Olympia's "Least-Cost Strategy to Pavement Management" as a model program, but McGinn counters that these strategies are already in place in practice, if not in name. It was on McGinn's watch that the city reinstituted "crack seal" and "chip seal" programs in an effort to prevent potholes before they appear. "We've invested $28 million over the past two years in spot repairs," says McGinn.
The, uh... how best to put this? The eccentric man with the same name as a beloved, deceased Pioneer Square bookseller—but is most certainly not that deceased bookseller—says he's decided to cut short his run for Seattle mayor. David Ishii, who you can read about here, said on my voicemail, "Thanks for all of what The Stranger does and what all the media does, especially The Stranger. I dropped out of the mayor's race and am now officially running for Position 4 in the city council race, running against Sally Bagshaw."
Which is sort of too bad, because I'd hope he would run against Council Member Mike O'Brien... and thereby also find himself running against Sam Bellomio.
Watching Sam Bellomio and David Ishii on the same panel would be gold.
Seattle City Council member and mayoral wannabe Tim Burgess called a press conference this morning by a pothole at the corner of E. Pike Street and Boylston Avenue to announce his new transportation plan: "Fix, Finish, and Plan for the Future."
"The city's transportation system is falling apart," Burgess complained while unveiling a plan that pragmatically promises to "fix what we have and finish what we started." Can't argue with that. I'm all for filling potholes. Just not exactly sure why Burgess needs to be mayor to do it.
It's an odd position Burgess is in: An incumbent city council member running against an incumbent mayor in a city with a pretty even distribution of power between the mayor and the council. Burgess charges that the city's street and bridge repair backlog has grown from $600 million to $1.8 billion on Mayor Mike McGinn's watch, while the city is spending only $2 million a year to fix sidewalks, far short of the $13 million annually SDOT says it needs to meet its modest target of fixing one-half of all Seattle sidewalks over the next 100 years.
Fair enough. But while the mayor proposes budgets, the power of the pursestrings remains in the hands of the council. And as chair of both the Budget Committee and the Government Performance and Finance Committee, you might think Burgess would already have some input into how the city prioritizes its spending. And you'd be right.
So is Burgess charging that McGinn is wasting the transportation money he has? Not really. "We actually run the city pretty fiscally conservatively," Burgess admits. It's more about readjusting our priorities, Burgess says.
For example, Burgess proposes moving from our current "complaint-based" system for repairing potholes to a more effective "grid-based" system. Burgess says that the pothole he was standing next to was passed by the city's "Pothole Rangers" on their way to fixing another pothole just 30 feet away. So yeah, I suppose there might be an argument to be made for crews fixing all the potholes within a vicinity instead of just jumping between the very worst ones.
But reprioritizing won't be enough to meet our growing transportation maintenance backlog. Burgess says he wants to prove to voters that the city can spend their tax dollars efficiently so that he can win their support for an even bigger "Bridging the Gap" levy when it comes up for renewal in a couple years. So I asked him: Does this mean Burgess wants to be known as the "Tax and Spend" mayor? "I don't have a problem with raising more revenue," Burgess replied, "if we're going to spend it wisely."
Again, can't argue with that. What I do worry about with Burgess is what he wouldn't prioritize spending our transportation dollars on. In his 900 word proposal, Burgess doesn't address transit until the final 150 words, and even then only to say that we should get more bang for the buck out of Metro buses. Not a word about light rail or street rail in his entire "Plan for the Future." And that's a statement about transportation priorities that should rub some Seattle voters the wrong way.
Since Ron Sims announced today that he's not running for mayor—he's going to climb a mountain with Ms Sims—it's time to reexamine the eight people who are running. To refresh your memory, they are:
1. Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess
2. Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell
3. David Ishii
4. Kate Martin
5. Mayor Mike McGinn
6. State senator Ed Murray
7. Charlie Staadecker
8. Former city council member Peter Steinbrueck
In our January Slog poll, Mayor McGinn held the lead (followed by Murray and Harrell). But so much has happened since then (February, mostly). Which brings us to our legally binding March Slog poll:
Ron Sims, the former King County executive who found high standing in a poll conducted last week, announced this morning on KUOW that "I am not going to run for mayor."
Host Steve Scher had been pressing whether Sims would join the eight-way race, which gave way to 25 minutes of meandering discussion about Seattle schools. Finally, Sims reflected on his ascent to the to Obama administration as deputy director of HUD, then announced his decision using a topographical metaphor. "There are other mountains I want to climb," said Sims. "My wife and I want to want to climb them together. I think she and I want to be on another mountain, another journey, doing things that are far more important to us."
Time for another poll!
This week's headline of Seattle Gay News is the same as last week's headline of Seattle Gay News!
Any bets on the cover of next week's issue?
KING 5 commissioned the poll:
SurveyUSA asked 647 registered voters asked which candidate they would vote for in the primary election. The responses included former King County Executive Ron Sims, who has not declared for the race.
Undecided – 34 percent
Mike McGinn – 15 percent
Ron Sims – 15 percent
Tim Burgess – 10 percent
Bruce Harrelll – 5 percent
David Ishii – 0 percent
Kate Martin – 3 percent
Ed Murray – 9 percent
Charlie Staadecker – 1 percent
Peter Steinbrueck – 7 percent
Eight people have now filed to run for mayor of Seattle—eight of them. Christ. Some of them are totally ridiculous, and some of them are less ridiculous:
1. Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess
2. Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell
3. David Ishii
4. Kate Martin
5. Mayor Mike McGinn
6. State senator Ed Murray
7. Charlie Staadecker
8. Former city council member Peter Steinbrueck
Which brings us to our legally binding Slog poll:
In other news, revered sex columnist Dan Savage says he isn't yet ready to announce that he isn't running for mayor, but plans to confirm that news within the next few days.
That makes almost four people in the city who are not running for mayor.
UPDATE: After some thoughtful prayer, I have also decided not to run. We're now up to five!
A man named David Ishii—not to be confused with the deceased bookseller by the same name—called Wednesday to say he is running for mayor, which would make him the eighth candidate in the race. A call to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission confirms that, yup, Ishii is running. But among a cast of titans heading to the ballot—Council Member Tim Burgess, Council Member Bruce Harrell, former councilman Peter Steinbrueck, state senator Ed Murray, and of course the guy who's currently mayor, Mike McGinn—Ishii is set to be, shall we say, a long shot candidate.
Still, here are a four reasons to love David Ishii:
1. His campaign website is called papabigfoot.com, featuring an animated elephant that bounds across the screen while farting a cloud that reads "Happy Valentines Day." Totally genius. Just go read some of the text: "free flowing traffic education trade talent full bennies .......CHA CHING Purdy seattle .......purdy clean ! !!." Also on his website, when you cursor over the head of the pencil, well—just go put your cursor on the head of the pencil.
2. He's got an interesting platform. "I am very serious about fighting crime, drugs, corruption, racketeering," says the self-described poet. "Round them all up."
3. He doesn't have the money to pay the filing fee in May, which is $1,800, and doubts he can gather the 1,800 signatures that could alternatively be submitted to make the ballot. "Do you think The Stranger can help come up with the $1,800 or part of it," he asked me, a broke reporter sitting in a frigid newsroom where staff members are, as we speak, discussing lighting trash fires for warmth. But maybe we could start a pool?
4. He kinda gets it. "I am quite the character," says Ishii. "I really stand out because I am quite eccentric. It will be entertaining. If anything, I'll make this race really interesting."
David Ishii for mayor!
On occasion, more controversial politicians have upstaged Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell, but that speaks to his credit. Harrell wields his words like weapons: His voice is sometimes lost among the council’s parliamentary tedium, but it booms when he takes up an issue, including job rights for ex-convicts or public nursing rules for new mothers. And by announcing this week that he’s running for mayor, ready with a slew of ideas to set the city on a new course, Harrell will be thrust into the civic spotlight where he’s most at ease.
Facing six opponents, the chair of the council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee nonetheless finds himself at a convenient crossroads of support. He will be uniquely positioned to satisfy a base that knows him as a social-justice advocate—reining in a troubled police department—while appealing to influential business lobbies. They’re two constituencies that tend to clash, but then again, Harrell’s five years in office have defined him as uncommonly independent.
“Bruce has always been known as his own guy,” says Seattle city attorney Pete Holmes, who applauds Harrell’s work to appoint a strong court monitor to oversee police reforms (despite pushback from Mayor Mike McGinn).
Already, Harrell has made several specific promises, including a plan to fund a year of community college for all public high-school graduates, set rigorous new standards to gauge the police department’s effectiveness, and organize a statewide initiative on gun control. “My groundswell will come from peeling off a lot of people in the different bases,” Harrell says, citing labor, parents with children in public school, business, and legal blocs (he’s also an attorney).
After months of rumors, it's official: Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell is running for mayor and he's launched a campaign website. We'll have more on Slog soon.
Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess, who is running for mayor, just issued a "strategic plan" for reforming the city's beleaguered police department. Number one on the list: canning police chief John Diaz. Here's the key excerpt from his statement:
Appoint New Police Chief
o Appoint a new police chief to replace Chief John Diaz. The new police chief will usher in a new era for the department based on strong leadership, public accountability, evidence-based practices, and restoring public trust and officer morale. “The women and men of the Police Department are eager for decisive, effective leadership from the mayor and police chief,” said Burgess.
It's Tuesday, so we're too busy printing the dead-tree edition of Slog to get into this. But I'll point out that The Stranger encouraged mayoral candidates last month to pledge to fire Diaz, a pledge we think Mayor Mike McGinn should have made a long time ago. (We also said the SPD should target more crime hostspots, which Burgess also pledges to do.) So I give Burgess points for that. Okay, I'm out of time. I posted the rest of Burgess's policing plan after the jump.
Mayor Mike McGinn was carrying his bicycle helmet when he arrived at our office last week. That image may seem like a caricature of the man who campaigned with the slogan "Mike Bikes," or something out of a Portlandia sketch, but he proudly confirmed with a nod, "I did bike here." He'd ridden from City Hall to discuss his reelection campaign, which he will formally announce this week. As McGinn sees it, he'll ride a raft of successes from his first three years in office—funding transit, helping at-risk students, striking a deal for the Sonics arena, and laying the groundwork for high-speed citywide broadband among them—to victory this November.
But as mayor, McGinn's two-wheeled transport and raw style have often upstaged those substantive accomplishments. His supposed "war on cars" is a favorite theme of the Seattle Times editorial page, which hilariously declared that, thanks to McGinn, "cars are being shoved aside" for a "Motor-Less City." That's ludicrous, of course, but it's typical of the attacks launched from the sore-losing business lobbies and opinion writers who opposed him when he ran in 2009. Still, those criticisms and some of the mayor's ham-fisted antics have contributed to his reputation as a vulnerable political target: His approval rating last year dropped to 33 percent, according to a poll of Seattle residents by SurveyUSA.
Setting down his helmet on our conference table, the 53-year-old mayor began eating two free-range hard-boiled eggs.
Seeing as how cycling has become a wedge issue, I started, is carrying around that helmet a liability for his campaign? He said that most voters don't care how he commutes. "I bike to work most days and ride home when I can."
"I am also in better shape now," he added, popping another egg.
If this makes McGinn sound too folksy to be a typical politician, well, that suits him just fine.
"According to the conventional wisdom, former mayor Greg Nickels couldn't be beat in 2009, because he had all of the endorsements, the institutional support, and the fundraising," said McGinn, who entered the race as a Greenwood neighborhood activist with the lone endorsement of the local Sierra Club and relatively little power to raise money. "The questions they asked about me in 2009 are the same questions they ask about me today."
Today at a presser—which was first scheduled for 12:30 but has been pushed back to 1:15 p.m. because "we have invited a number of people to this announcement"—Mayor Mike McGinn says he "will announce his intentions" for this year's mayor's race. He's raised $95,000, according to records filed with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, so McGinn, his stack of cash, and his passel of supporters seem to have all the ingredients to bake a reelection campaign cake.
The former King County executive hasn't said he's running for mayor—rumors just keep swirling that he may jump in the jam-packed race. But let's say he is. Let's say he is and he's telegraphing some of his platform in an interview published Friday in Grist:
Q. If you could push one policy initiative in the next two to four years to make a difference for America’s cities, what would it be?
A. Chronic unemployment — that’s gonna be really important. Dealing with climate change and adaptation from an urban level is gonna be critically important. I’d probably choose those two first. There’s ways to implement both: If a city’s going to adapt, it’s gonna rebuild itself or redesign itself.
These look like challenges that are overwhelming. They’re not. They’re opportunities — opportunities to be smarter than ever. And urban mayors, urban electeds, people living in urban areas, and the business community in those urban areas are gonna have to be out of their silos, talking about common visions and purposes, and driving the change. I think we can do that.
So that's what Mr. Sims thinks American mayors ought to be doing. Interesting.
Still, I don't know that Sims wants to get into this messy election. He's defined himself as something of an elder statesman and social media maven; competing in what's shaping up to be a mayoral mud fight among titans may tarnish his sterling aura. On the other hand, if Sims does jump in, he could cobble together a few natural constituencies. Housing providers, social-service organizations, communities of color, environmentalists, transit advocates, and others may gravitate toward Sims, seeing him as the candidate most likely to fund their work. As the most experienced executive in the race, Sims could also been seen by established money (lawyers, labor, developers, etc.) as a tried-and-true, steady hand for the city tiller. But, for now, Sims isn't saying he's running for mayor. He's just talking about what mayors ought to do.
The Stranger Election Control Board has a feature out that tells the six folks running for mayor what we want to hear—beside promising to "lead" with a "vision" and those other meaningless soundbites they keep spouting off. To begin, here's what we want to see happen with the cops:
Building more light rail within city limits, killing the SPD drone program, funding bike lanes, putting more cops on dangerous blocks, and more of our bleeding-heart demands ARE RIGHT HERE.
Busting Balls at SPD
Promising to fire the police chief may seem brash. But under Chief John Diaz, the city required a federal intervention before it could even begin meaningful reforms to a police department with patterns of excessive force and concerning racial bias (costing millions of dollars a year in new oversight). Diaz should be fired, of course—because he is clearly not qualified—and a search should begin to replace him.
Even if saying that is too impolitic, mayoral candidates can call for four specific reforms that exceed those named in Seattle's recent court settlement with the US Department of Justice. First and easiest is demanding biennial reconfirmations of the chief by the mayor and city council so firing an impotent chief isn't as difficult in the future. Second, the mayoral candidates should vow to quickly sign a labor contract with the police union, the Seattle Police Officers' Guild, which has been working without a contract since theirs expired in 2010 (seriously). Third, in those labor negotiations, the city should remove the union president, Rich O'Neill, from the city payroll. He's still being paid as a sergeant even though he never works for the city. Under his leadership, the police union has resisted reforms, joked about pulling guns on members of the ACLU and the Urban League, and opposed the city's racial and social justice initiative. We shouldn't pay people to be part of the problem. Fourth, the department needs to be more transparent with public records. Candidates for mayor must call for SPD to quickly release dash-cam footage when requested under open records laws, quickly satisfy records requests on recent events, and post a wider variety of police reports online. These steps will show that the candidates understand how to restore public confidence in the police department.