SEATTLE — One of the most heated races on the ballot this year is the campaign for Seattle mayor. Incumbent Mike McGinn is fighting hard to keep his job. The challenger, state Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, says the city needs a change in leadership.
What follow is a partial transcript of our interview with McGinn. Tuesday night we highlight Murray.
C.R. “You took on the state with the tunnel, you took on the DOJ, you took on the city attorney, you’ve taken on the City Council…”
McGinn: “Here’s the deal. There’s kind of the easy path, right? The easy way to do it is just to say we won’t do anything until everybody agrees, and where does it get us to? … woefully underfunded education, underfunded transit and roads, 50th in the nation in mental health beds, most regressive state and local tax system. There’s another way, which says, let’s have the courage to actually talk about the issues, even if people might argue about them, and what are the outcomes from that, right? Doubling the families and education levy, paid sick leave, coalition to stop coal trains, you know, launching new transit, and the region’s working to catch up with us.”
C.R.: “But do you pledge in a second term to be more regional, more collaborative with regional players?”
McGinn: “The reason I respond to the questions the way I am is because you are buying the rhetoric and not looking at the facts … We have been working with the region and we’ve been getting great outcomes. But we also stood up for Seattle’s values in that process. I’m not going to say the region gets to decide what’s best for Seattle. Seattleites get to decide what’s best, and what’s important is for their mayor to stand up and fight for that, and I’ve done that.”
The single biggest issue McGinn faced during his first term was the investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice over excessive force at the SPD and subsequent mandates for reform.
C.R.: “Some have argued that had your eye been more on the ball earlier on, been focused more on public safety, you could have kept the DOJ out of here.”
McGinn: “You know, that assumes that is the outcome you want. And I think the outcome we wanted was actual reform, and I think it’s OK that we have a consent decree and monitor, so long as it was on terms that work for the city of Seattle because it adds a layer of accountability, and that was my position. Now I didn’t accept their first offer when they came in. And again, these issues are long standing. When I ran for office, I heard from members of our communities of color, blacks and Latinos that they didn’t like the way they were treated. And this existed long before I came into office. So, I could have accepted their first offer, but what I did was that I sat down with our community leaders, our civil rights leaders, police officers, we retained Connie Rice from L.A., who is a noted civil rights lawyer. And my goal was to make sure we had a reform package that worked for Seattle. So we formed a community police commission, which has civil rights leaders and the police union at the table.”
C.R.: “Transportation frustrates a lot of Seattleites. Roads aren’t in good condition, there’s a huge backlog, it grew under your watch. How come, and what are you going to do?”
McGinn: First of all, under our watch we’ve increased maintenance spending by 37% in the last two years. In fact, there’s more maintenance spending in the city budget than there was when I took office … I want to get money into our neighborhoods, not just downtown. And now that the Spokane Street Viaduct Project is completed, and Mercer Street is completing, and we have the seawall financed through a long-term bond measure, now we can work on investing in more of our corridors around the city.”
McGinn on Murray
McGinn frequently accuses his competitor, Murray, of failing to deliver during his time in the Legislature in Olympia.
McGinn: “He’s not a backbencher on the state Senate. He’s been there 18 years — 50th in the nation in mental mental health beds, we see the effects here; 43rd in the nation in per-capita spending per student, we see that here; pending 17% cuts to transportation. He’s now running for mayor, saying that he’s running because our educational system and our transit system and our public safety system are bad, right? But he’s the leader who helped systematically underfund mental health treatment, transit and education. That’s a pretty neat trick to run for mayor, saying these things are bad given the role he played in giving us challenges here in the city.”
City Council Endorsements
C.R.: “Why have five of the City Council members, a majority, endorsed your opponent? I mean, they’re the ones that work closely with you and they said, hey, he’s not the guy for us.”
McGinn: “Well, you know, they’re financed by the same people that are financing Ed Murray’s campaign, that’s the same old power block, you know. That’s not the real issue. The real issue is what are we doing. And look at our record and see how much we’ve accomplished, with the City Council to support it as well.”