A Primer on the Seattle Mayor’s Race
A primer on the candidates, the issues, and the personalities vying to run the city. Pay attention: There will be a quiz.
Liberals fighting liberals. So what does it matter? This year’s race for Seattle mayor, featuring nine candidates, including some big leaguers like former city council president Peter Steinbrueck, state senate Democratic leader Ed Murray, and the controversial incumbent mayor himself, Mike McGinn, is actually loaded with nuance.
With Seattle at a crossroads between fully embracing urbanism or trying to moderate growth, big questions about the city’s place in the region, state, and even the international stage, hang in the balance. In addition to urgent issues over police reform and quality schools, this is an election about defining themes such as the regionalism espoused by Senator Murray or the partisan allegiance to Seattle interests pushed by Mayor McGinn. We’ve interviewed the candidates about everything from their takes on South Lake Union to their favorite political movies. The primary election is coming up on August 6, and we hope the answers help you decide who should lead the way.
CURRENT JOB Seattle mayor
UNIVERSITY Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, Economics; University of Washington School of Law
LIVES IN Greenwood
BASE Developers and bicyclists who, despite McGinn’s flagging polling numbers, are clinging to him as the only real urbanist in the race. To pull it out, McGinn needs to portray his bad numbers as a mainstream plot against him and energize his base in a fight to the finish.
DEFINING ISSUE The police force is under a consent decree with the Department of Justice over alleged police misconduct, which finally overshadowed McGinn’s obsession with stopping the downtown tunnel.
CAMPAIGN TRAIL BRAG Gets things done
REALITY CHECK Ongoing tensions with the city council have made getting things done a lot harder.
SO SEATTLE Bikes to work; started Great City, a green nonprofit, after heading the local Sierra Club
Not so seattle Loves a good political brawl
hidden talent Smokin’ lefty layup, cooking for a crowd
PATH TO VICTORY Sit back and let his opponents knock each other out of the race
If Elected, Most Likely to… Blame the council for gridlock at city hall
# of Facebook likes: 2,629
# of Twitter followers 1,936 @michaelmcginn
Current Job State senator, Democratic minority leader
high school Timberline High School, Lacey, Washington
university University of Portland, Sociology
lives in Capitol Hill
Campaign Trail Brag More collaborative than McGinn
reality check After being elected majority leader of the senate, his Democratic coalition fell apart when two conservative Democrats joined a new Republican coalition.
defining issue Passing gay marriage.
base The LGBT community. Murray has an impressive record as a state legislator that extends beyond gay rights, such as passing a major transportation package, making him the grownup candidate that voters may be longing for after years of McGinn.
If Elected, Most Likely to… Mend fences between Seattle and Olympia
hidden talent Writes poetry
so seattle Gay; has a “shoe-free home”
not so seattle Attends Mass most Sundays
PATH TO VICTORY Steal McGinn’s liberal base (and add a few respectable suits into the mix)
# of Facebook likes 1,096
# of Twitter followers 282 @edmurray4mayor
Current Job IT consultant for Puget Sound nonprofits
lives in A houseboat on Portage Bay
high school North Thurston High School, Lacey, Washington
university University of Washington, German Literature and International Studies; Master’s in Library and Information Science
so seattle Lives on a houseboat
not so seattle Welcomes conflict
defining issue She has been active in various environmental movements and believes current politicians aren’t doing enough to address environmental issues.
hidden talent Ultimate Frisbee fanatic; cofounded the local DiscNW and directed national UF association USA Ultimate
If Elected, Most Likely to… Prioritize environmental stewardship and policies that encourage gender equity
Base As an advocate for gender equity, specifically gender pay equity, Gray hopes to gain interested voters who are concerned with equal opportunity.
# of Twitter followers 5 @votejoeygray
# of Facebook likes 116
Current Job Seattle City Council member
high school Garfield High School, Valedictorian
university University of Washington, Political Science; UW School of Law
defining issue Race and social justice
so seattle UW inside linebacker, Rose Bowl champion over Michigan in 1978
not so seattle Wears cufflinks
Campaign Trail Brag Unlike McGinn, “I come up with creative solutions.”
reality check The highest-profile of those solutions, body cameras for cops, has gone nowhere.
hidden talent Finding bargains at estate sales
PATH TO VICTORY Paint Mayor McGinn as a white, kale-munching, Greenwood chicken owner
base An odd combination of social justice liberals, minority communities, and rich business people. As the only person of color in the race, Harrell, who’s talking a lot about social justice on the campaign trail, is a passionate, smart, and witty speaker. He could try to frame urbanist McGinn as a privileged yuppie, but Harrell’s wealth and frat boy conservative streak undermine the lefty assault.
If Elected, Most Likely to… Revamp and expand the city’s moribund free Wi-Fi system
# of Twitter followers 126 @bruceformayor
# of Facebook likes 1,070
Current Job Attorney
university University of Washington, Business Administration and Finance; Willamette University College of Law
lives Somewhere in King County
defining issue A mystery; ranked “unqualified” by Justice for Washington when he ran for state supreme court last year
Campaign Trail Brag None. He doesn’t campaign and didn’t return calls.
hidden talent ...
PATH TO VICTORY ...
If Elected, Most Likely to …
# of Facebook likes ...
Current Job Landscape designer, Kate Martin Design
lives in Greenwood
high school Tunkhannock Area High School, Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania
university State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Landscape Architecture
so seattle Built a skate park for her kids in her front yard
not so seattle Doesn’t support affirmative action
defining issue A conservative on fiscal issues and a liberal on social issues
hidden talent Country singer and songwriter
PATH TO VICTORY None, but she may pick up some women’s votes as the highest-profile woman in the race
Campaign Trail Brag Got more than 70,000 votes in her 2011 race for school board
reality check Lost that race by more than 8,000 votes
Base Her Greenwood neighbors
If Elected, Most Likely to… Launch her mayoral term with a white paper on the need to match infrastructure to growth
# of Twitter followers 43 @tweetsfromkate
# of Facebook Likes 222
Current Job Owner, Staadecker Real Estate
university U Penn Wharton School, Economics
high school Franklin High School
defining issue Unlike the current mayor, he won’t be divisive.
lives in Downtown Seattle
Campaign Trail Brag For a political unknown, he’s raised a ton of money.
reality check That money all comes from his wealthy friends.
If Elected, Most Likely to… Lower parking rates
hidden talent Has a huge watch and bow tie collection
PATH TO VICTORY None, but he might get some support from voters charmed by his genteel, grandfatherly schtick
so seattle He’s unwaveringly nice.
not so seattle He wears a bow tie.
Base His wealthy friends
# of Twitter followers 41 @charlieformayor
# of Facebook likes 188
Current Job Founder and principal, Steinbrueck Urban Strategies
high school Lakeside School
university Bowdoin College, Government; UW, Master’s in Architecture
lives in Ravenna
defining issue Opposition to a new SoDo arena; historical preservation
Campaign Trail Brag He’s the true urbanist in the race.
reality check He supported taller buildings downtown as a council member, but opposed them recently in South Lake Union.
so seattle His name is synonymous with Pike Place Market.
not so seattle He’s actually from here.
If Elected, Most Likely to… Push for hiring more cops.
hidden talent Makes a mean pizza
Base Lesser Seattle diehards. Steinbrueck is banking on his iconic name and the top issues of the older, crankier voters his name is iconic with (i.e., preserving Seattle’s ’70s neighborhood vibe) to instigate a battle for Seattle with McGinn.
# of Twitter followers 75 @peterforseattle
# of Facebook likes 420
Current Job Factory production worker in the food industry
lives in West Seattle
high school Herschel V. Jenkins High School, Savannah
university Georgia State University, Atlanta
hidden talent The mayoral candidates should really address the worst economic crisis for the working classes since the 1930s. It’s not of our making but it’s on our backs. I think that these kind of questions really keep the whole discussion on a nonserious level, and part of it is because the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties have no serious answers to the crisis facing working people.
Campaign Trail Brag Her “top advisors” are Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Malcolm X, and Fidel Castro.
reality check This is the twenty-first century.
defining issue Overthrowing capitalism
Base Textile workers in Bangladesh, the Populist movement of the 1890s
PATH TO VICTORY Workers rise up and realize the folly of capitalism.
so seattle She’s a Socialist.
not so seattle She really means it.
If Elected, Most Likely to… Nationalize Starbucks
# of Twitter followers N/A
# of Facebook likes N/A
Quiz: Who Said It?
A) “I want to be the mayor that turns this police department around, that more than any other issue affecting me…the problem of the police department can’t be put simply at the foot of the current mayor. We need a change of leadership.”
B) “ .”
C) “The highest social justice you can do for an individual and a family is to provide jobs for the parents.”
D) “I don’t think that a lifetime of civic involvement, activism, and commitment to public life just simply vanishes because I’ve been out of office for five years.”
E) “I do not need to teach another African American boy to play basketball. What I do need is to have an African American teacher who can talk to that kid.”
F) “I’m a policy wonk, I’m a business wonk, but I’m also kind of a visionary.”
G) “What made me run, and what made me think about it, was the ability to get things done.”
H) “We present immediate demands for the relief of the working class and also a long-term program in order for workers to take power out of the hands of the capitalist class of this country.”
I) “Enacting more ways to mitigate climate change and better steward our natural and built environments has implications for virtually every public policy decision that Seattle makes.”
KEY: (A) Ed Murray, (B) Doug McQuaid, (C) Charlie Staadecker, (D) Peter Steinbrueck, (E) Bruce Harrell, (F) Kate Martin, (G) Mike McGinn, (H) Mary Martin, (I) Joey Gray
Published: July 2013