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Seattle’s mayoral election in 2013

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, who was first elected in November 2009, is seeking a second term in 2013. A nonpartisan primary will be held on Aug. 6. The top two finishers will advance to a Nov. 5 general election.

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SEATTLE — Mayor Mike McGinn is in a tight race against his opponent, state Sen. Ed Murray.

McGinn has been trailing Murray since the primaries and some pundits say that gap is widening.

As the incumbent tries to rally the electorate, he is holding an online “Ask Me Anything” session at 2 p.m. Monday on Reddit.

To ask the mayor a question, go here: http://www.reddit.com/r/Seattle/comments/1ox3gd/my_name_is_mike_mcginn_and_i_want_to_earn_your/

mcginn mayoral race

SEATTLE — One of the most heated races on the Nov. 5 ballot this year is the campaign for Seattle mayor.  Mayor Mike McGinn is trying to fight off a strong challenge by Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, a state legislator for 18 years who represents the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

murray2What follows is a partial transcript of our interview with Murray.  On Monday, we highlightedMcGinn.

Campaign Vision

C.R.:  “A lot of people have looked you and said, hey, he’s running as the anti-McGinn, not as the pro-Ed Murray.  They don’t think you have a clear vision for the future of the city.”

Murray:  “I think they’re wrong, and I think the primary (election) proved that’s not true since I came in number one.  We’ve talked about our transportation system.  We’ve talked about an affordable city.  We’ve talked about a government that needs to be effective.  It’s one thing to be a progressive, it’s another to get results.  We’ve talked about my ability to get results in Olympia vs. the mayor’s inability to get results in Seattle.  And I think that’s a fair way to approach a campaign, to talk about what I’ve been able to do, what I would like to do, and what the mayor’s not been able to accomplish.”

Leadership Style

C.R.:  “The reason a big transportation package did not happen this session in Olympia is because it died in the state Senate, your state Senate.  What does that say about your leadership?”

Murray:  “I don’t think that the responsibility for that package failing rests with me, it rests with some Republicans on the east side of the lake who are threatening their own constituents’ ability to get to work when they threaten bus service.”

C.R.:  “But you talk about reaching across the aisle, why weren’t you able to reach across the aisle and get some of those suburban Republicans?”

Murray:  “You know, you win, you lose.  I passed the largest transportation package in state history when I chaired transportation. It restored funding for transit that had been eliminated by Tim Eyman. So, I’ve been fairly successful.  But I’ve also lost. I lost the civil rights bill for 10 years before I won it.  I lost marriage equality many years before I was able to win it. Usually it takes more than a year to move a package through.”

C.R.:  “What’s your background, what skills do you bring to become that guy who can bring people together, to become that unifier?”

Murray:  “I think legislators gain a set of skills where we have to work with people from the other party, we have to work with people from other parts of the state.  So, to get things done, we know we have to find a way to come to some common agreement so that we can actually move things forward.  I think that understanding of government, how government works, not just at the state level, but the local level and having worked with the federal delegation, that’s what I bring, that’s the difference.”

Police Reform

Murray has been critical of McGinn’s handling of police reform and the fact that the Department of Justice has had to enter the fray to force the Seattle Police Department to change its pattern of excessive force.

C.R.:  “Is it really fair to blame the mayor for DOJ coming in, given that this is a long standing problem in the department?”

Murray:  “Sure, because the Department of Justice approached the city and offered to work with the city.  The Department of Justice did the same thing with the city of Austin (Texas).  Austin cooperated, provided the data, made changes and that was the end of the story.  This mayor decided to fight (U.S. Attorney) Jenny Durkan and the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department year after year after year.  He claims it’s because he needed to get his community commission, but the Justice Department, U.S. Attorney’s Office, they never opposed a community commission.  So, yes, I believe we could have worked with them.  It was a great opportunity.  We had the federal government in, saying your police have a problem around race and around over-use of force.  That would have been the opportunity for the mayor to say, great, let’s work together, let’s get this done, let’s get it over.”

C.R.:  “You believe a new chief is required to change things?”

Murray:  “I do.”

C.R.:  “And this mayor is not willing to do that?  He’s said he would hire a new chief.”

Murray:  “He has said that he would hire a new chief.  I wonder if the chiefs around the country who would apply would look at the last four years and say, wow, I want to be part of that situation.  I think they will look at it and back away.  I think we need a new mayor so we can recruit the best candidates to get a new chief.”

City Hall Agenda

Murray:  “I want this city to model how you deal with homelessness, how you deal with transportation, for the rest of the state, for the rest of the nation.  Currently, what we model is how we, as Democrats, fight amongst ourselves to get anything done.  That doesn’t have to be the case.  You know, this is a Democratic, progressive city and I think we can bring folks together.”

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.

mcginnWhat follow is a partial transcript of our interview with McGinn.  Tuesday night we highlight Murray.

Leadership Style

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.”

Police Reform

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 inAnd 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.”

Transportation

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.”

SEATTLE — The Seattle mayor’s race is heating up, and in just a couple weeks ballots are mailed out. Incumbent Mike McGinn and his challenger state Sen. Ed Murray faced off Thursday night at a forum in downtown Seattle that centered on the themes of downtown parks and public safety.

Murray argued the mayor hasn’t cracked down hard enough on crime, especially downtown. Murray wants an overhaul of the Seattle Police Department, a new chief and 100 new officers to help keep people safe.

“What I hear from police officers is they are looking for a clear message from leadership about what they want to have happen and what we want them to do on the streets,” Murray said.

McGinn said he would add 15 officers next year, arguing that the problem with downtown crime is not simply about police.

“We did a study of the 50 most problematic individuals downtown,” McGinn said. “They’ve been arrested 2,500 times. So, police officers and arrests and enforcement, part of the failed war on drugs in many cases, is only a piece of the solution.”

McGinn made some waves when he called for a new tax on sugar drinks, arguing that it’s the solution to the chronic underfunding of the city’s parks and open spaces.

“A 1-cent an ounce tax on sugar sweetened beverages could generate $21 to $29 million a year,” McGinn said. “This I think would be a fabulous potential funding source.”

Murray instead favors something called a Metropolitan Park District, which would be a permanent property tax assessment.

“We have a $250 million backlog in our major maintenance in our parks and $29 million isn’t going to get us there,” Murray said. “We should seriously look at enacting that mechanism as a permanent ongoing source that can’t be taken away during bad times to maintain our parks and the operation of our parks.”

The candidates also got into it over transportation funding and whether not having enough funding was Murray’s fault, since a state transportation package failed to make it out of Olympia, or whether it is McGinn’s fault since his plan to increase the vehicle license fee a few years back failed with city voters.

Politics
09/26/13

CR Douglas: Mayoral forum

Q13 FOX News

mcginnSEATTLE — In response to the growing frustration and concern over downtown safety, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced Thursday that more than $3.5 million will be allocated to combat the problem. As part of his plan, he wants more help for the mentally ill and drug addicted, who have been the perpetrators of much of the recent violence and disorder.

McGinn called it “a responsible, holistic approach to services and enforcement.” The mayor also called it a “paradigm shift” from how things have been done in the past when it comes to policing the downtown streets.

Some of the money will be spent on new cops to enforce the law, but the biggest change in strategy is a new plan to give drunks, drug addicts and the mentally ill a chance to get help instead of being jailed, where they often serve some time and then end up back on the streets causing the same old problems.

For “low-level, non-violent offenders with substance abuse problems, arrest and incarceration is not the solution for that person,” McGinn said. “Substance abuse treatment issues are.”

Given how controversial downtown public safety has become in this year’s mayor’s race, with downtown businesses especially critical of McGinn for not doing more, today’s announcement was surprising for the broad coalition —  law enforcement, civil rights groups, human service providers, and, yes, the downtown business community – who stood with McGinn to support the effort.

“This is a really good start and I think a good model,” Kate Joncas, president of the Downtown Seattle Association said. “The encouraging thing is now we have a partnership among everybody that needs to be at the table.  If we can stick together we might be able to make continued changes.”

Police Union Endorses Murray

But just a few hours after today’s moment of unity, a very different message about McGinn and public safety was announced. In a big blow to the mayor’s re-election campaign, the Seattle Police Union endorsed his opponent, Sen. Ed Murray.

“Seattle City Government is broken,” Rich O’Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild said. “Many have called it dysfunctional and we need someone with the ability to unite people and bring all the different groups, all the stakeholders together, and to work on the problems that we have.”

O’Neill argues that the city could have avoided having the Department of Justice come in and force police reforms if McGinn had been more focused on public safety.

Local News
09/17/13

Seattle mayoral race heats up over crime, mental health issues

SEATTLE — Mayor Mike McGinn promises more cops on the beat in the wake of the latest deadly attack downtown.

“Today, we are announcing funding for 15 new police officers,” McGinn said at a news conference Tuesday.

mcginnThe announcement comes after a college professor was stabbed to death and his girlfriend was stabbed and seriously injured as they walked to their car in Pioneer Square Friday night after a Sounders game.  Police say the suspect has mental health issues.

McGinn also wants more funding in the city for mental health services and says it may take a new tax to accomplish that.

“If this is a priority, and the public believes it’s a priority, and there’s a fair tax source for it, then we’ll move ahead with that.”

The mayor believes the state should pay its fair share for mental health services, and he contended his opponent in the mayoral race, state Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, helped kill legislation that would have done that.

“Senator Murray was chairman of the (Senate) Ways and Means Committee, and that bill died in his committee,” McGinn said.

Murray, in turn, said he wants the mayor to stop blaming the Legislature and points to new legislation that will help those with mental problems.

“The mayor doesn’t seem to understand that this Legislature this year enacted the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare,” said Murray. “That is going to provide an incredible amount of mental health funding for those very individuals.”

Murray said McGinn should have done more the last four years about crime in the city and helping the mentally ill.

It’s an issue that is beginning to take center stage in the race for mayor.

Seattle’s current mayor said he thinks hiring 15 new officers is a step in the right direction.

“You know people want to be safe, and we respond to that,” McGinn said.

 

mcginn

Q13 FOX News

Politics
09/11/13

McGinn vs. Murray: The gloves come off

SEATTLE — It’s gloves off in the Seattle mayor’s race as incumbent Mike McGinn and his challenger, Sen. Ed Murray, are in full campaign mode. The two politicians went at it at a downtown forum Wednesday.

“Sen. Murray promised he’d run the most negative campaign we’ve ever seen,” McGinn said. “I can guarantee you in every forum he has been the first one to level an attack — he’s been living up to his promise.”

Murray’s overall argument is that McGinn has been divisive and isn’t good at bringing people together. “That’s the type of government we’ve had for the last four years, and that’s what we need to change,” he said.

Here’s a look at some of the hot-button issues:

TRANSPORTATION

Transportation is one of the key subjects in the race. McGinn says he’s put as much money as he can into pothole repair, road paving and sidewalk construction and blames his opponent for not doing more for Seattle during his time in Olympia. “We are sitting here with a deep maintenance backlog, deep cuts to transit, and Sen. Murray is presenting himself as a leader on transportation in the legislature,” McGinn said.

“You can’t have your own facts,” Murray shot back. “The largest transportation package that was passed in the history of this state, and there is some indication that in the history of any state, was a transportation package I passed, and it included money for local transit agencies.”

PUBLIC SAFETY

Crime is also on the minds of many.  Murray claims it’s increased under McGinn and that people now feel less safe out on the streets, especially in downtown. The answer, he says, starts with a new police chief.  “Reform the police department,” Murray said. “Give them the skills and the tools necessary to actually rebuild the morale of our police force, because there is a real morale problem when I talk to our officers.”

McGinn defended his record on public safety. “We’ve added more park rangers, we’re adding more officers, we turned on the lights in Cal Anderson Park. I’ve gone to every murder scene in this city.”  He claims that addressing the city’s crime issues are a “priority.”

GENDER EQUITY

Another topic that’s becoming big in this race is women, and at issue is that Seattle was recently ranked among the worst cities when it comes pay inequity between men and women. Murray argues that the task force McGinn recently created look into the problem is too little too late.  “The issue is something that I would not have waited til my fourth year in office to address,” he said and claims that McGinn’s cabinet is 70 percent men. “Leadership starts at the top,” he said.

McGinn didn’t dispute that number, but pointed to some key women in his administration. “My chief of staff, my budget director, my communications director, some of the most powerful people in city government are women,” he said.

A number of additional forums are scheduled between now and the November election.

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