Seattle mayoral candidate Ed Murray weighed in today on the debate that is, somewhat improbably, raging in the mayor's race over a proposed Whole Foods-anchored development in West Seattle, which Mayor Mike McGinn has opposed because Whole Foods isn't unionized and doesn't pay, in the mayor's words, a "living wage." (Whole Foods says they pay non-managerial employees, on average, just over $16 an hour; McGinn's office questions that figure.)
Like one of the other leading mayoral contenders, former city council member Peter Steinbrueck. told PubliCola two days ago, Murray says he strongly opposes McGinn's anti-Whole Foods position. In a statement this afternoon, Murray said:
What the mayor is doing regarding the Whole Foods issue in West Seattle is wrong.
Once again he is dividing people, rather than trying to bring them together. Even though he lacks the authority, he is unilaterally trying to override an extensive review process that included multiple public meetings and approvals from multiple reviews, including by the Seattle Design Commission and the West Seattle Design Review Board. The Design Commission recommended approval of the alley vacation and the West Seattle Design Review Board also recommended approval of the project.
The Mayor has suddenly decided to attack this particular development based on politics. He has usurped the role of the City Council and subverted an impartial process to pursue his own advancement.
As Mayor, I will work with labor and business to build a strong, diverse economy, and unlike the mayor, I will treat projects like this in a fair and impartial way, working collaboratively with the relevant reviewing bodies, the Council and stakeholders to make sure we make decisions based on sound policy rather than politics.
There is much the city can and should do to support rebuilding the middle class, including working on making sure all city employees earn a living wage. Currently, several hundred employees at the City earn less than $16 an hour. As a city government, we should set an example for others to follow. We’re not doing that currently.
We're still waiting to hear back from city council member Bruce Harrell, the only frontrunner in the race who has not yet responded to our requests for his views on the controversy. We'll have more on the Whole Foods kerfuffle shortly.