Seattle Mayor's Race 2013
Murray Recalibrates: Disputes McGinn Coal Claims, Backs Off Burke-Gilman Statement
Mayoral candidate Ed Murray backs off from his previous statements about the Burke-Gilman trail, disputes McGinn camp's claims that he's pro-coal train.
Mayoral candidate Ed Murray made two more "clarifying" campaign statements today, with comments on coal trains (he's against them) and the Burke-Gilman "Missing Link" (he now says he's for it). Murray has a habit of awkwardly navigating his way toward policy positions—for example, last month, he proposed an "incremental" increase to a $15 minimum wage, but only for some workers, starting with city employees and moving to big busineses.
Murray's campaign strongly disputed what campaign spokesman Sandeep Kaushik described as a "whispering campaign" (a pretty kooky one, by the way) by incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn's camp attempting to link Murray to "big coal" yesterday, bringing out prominent coal-train opponent and state Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36) along with Washington Conservation Voters program manager Shannon Murphy to vouch for Murray's opposition to a proposed coal-train terminal near Bellingham.
"There has been a whispering campaign that Murray is secretly pro-coal. He has made it pretty clear that that's not true," Kaushik says. "We're not going to leave assertions and accusations from the McGinn campaign unanswered. We want to make sure that this is addressed and put to rest."
As we've reported, Murray has received contributions from the BNSF Railroad, which would operate the coal trains, as well as a lobbyist for Move Forward Washington, a group that recently formed to promote the coal train proposal. However, Murray has consistently said he opposes the proposed terminal.
WCV and Carlyle have both endorsed Murray; Carlyle making it official toay.
Meanwhile, in a second instance of "correcting the record," Murray issued a statement today backing off comments he made to the Seattle Times about the "Missing Link" of the Burke-Gilman Trail, which implied that he wanted to spend more time studying the proposal to complete the trail (which the city has been studying for the past seven years).
Murray told Times writer Jonathan Martin that he thought completing the Missing Link could be "potentially dangerous" because it would put bikes and trucks on a collision course; Kaushik later told PubliCola Murray just wanted the city to complete a formal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is currently underway.
In a statement today, Murray said, "Yesterday I made some comments to the Seattle Times expressing concerns about safety issues related to the fact that bikes and trucks will have to share a narrow roadway in Ballard under the cycling community’s preferred option for completing the trail. I want to clarify those remarks, because reading them over I realize that my tone came off as overly skeptical regarding that option.
"The Burke-Gilman is a treasured part of our regional trail system in Seattle and it is vital that we complete this 'missing link.' However, we must make sure the proposed route is the safest option for all users. The current proposal does place a multi-use trail through an industrial area, which raises some real safety concerns for users. I do not oppose the proposed route, but I think the Environmental Impact Statement process that is currently underway will provide an important 'second look' to make sure we make the best choice."
As we noted yesterday, the Missing Link has been studied ad nauseam; the EIS that's currently underway is the result of a court order that, in turn, resulted from a lengthy lawsuit by a handful of maritime and industrial businesses in the vicinity of the bike trail. Some of McGinn's contributors, oddly enough, include businesses and individuals who have opposed the completion of the trail, including Fremont Dock owner Suzie Burke and North Seattle Industrial Association president Eugene Wasserman. Anti-Missing Link attorney Josh Brower has contributed to Murray.