Former mayor Mike McGinn on Monday morning announced on Twitter that he is throwing his hat in the ring for this year's mayoral race—facing incumbent Ed Murray, the challenger who unseated McGinn in 2013 after his first term.
"For the past three years, I've been watching the city change in ways that I think we all should be concerned about," McGinn said in front of the press Monday morning. "Major employers want to be here, and that’s good. But the people who helped make this city what it is, made itself attractive, are the people being pushed out."
Murray beat McGinn in 2013 with 51.6 percent of the votes (an 8,446-vote margin) as an appealing candidate to progressive voters and as a champion of LGBTQ rights. The incumbent has already raised $376,000, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission. But this year Murray might see that support base falter because of a lawsuit alleging he sexually abused a then-15-year-old boy and paid him for intercourse. Danni Askini, trans activist and director of the Gender Justice League, wrote an op-ed for The Stranger's blog this weekend calling on the mayor to step down.
McGinn on Monday morning invited the press into his backyard in Greenwood, where he came with a prepared statement of general policies—supporting a city income tax and expanding the business-and-occupations tax, opposing the sales tax on homelessness—but noticeably left out any mention of the allegations against Murray.
McGinn also didn't answer the question of when he decided to run. He said he sat down with his team several weeks ago and "took a long hard look at this race," though it was clear the uncertainty of this year's race played a factor.
"In this race, I don't know what's going to happen," McGinn said.
Murray's campaign issued a statement shortly after McGinn's announcement, painting the former mayor as divisive and ineffective.
"The last four years of Mayor Murray's leadership stand in sharp contrast to the previous administration, when Mike McGinn was mayor," the statement said. "Mike McGinn's divisive and confrontational style led to years of paralysis, dysfunction, and infighting at City Hall. As mayor, Mike McGinn picked fights with everyone under the sun."
"I've had a few years to reflect in my time in office, and I’ve mellowed," McGinn joked in response to Murray's statement.
While McGinn praised Murray for some of his policies—the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, his sanctuary cities stance and $15 minimum wage—he criticized the mayor for championing "expensive signature projects" that McGinn says made housing skyrocket and pushed the working class out of the city. He said he wants to prioritize homelessness by working within the budget—not through regressive taxes—though he didn't specify what other parts of the budget he would be willing to cut.
"I still believe we need to start working with what we already have," McGinn said.
McGinn urged City Council to push for a city income tax this year. He also appeals to Sonics fans, who quickly voiced their support for him on Twitter after his announcement.