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McGinn is In

By Josh Feit March 24, 2009


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Local Sierra Club leader Micheal McGinn, 49, is running for mayor against Greg Nickels. 

He's not forming an exploratory committee. He's running. 

McGinn actually started out as a Nickels fan;  a rare neighborhood activist who was down with Nickels' plans for raising height limits, decreasing parking requirements, and increasing density in the neighborhoods. 

McGinn was, in fact, out to reclaim neighborhood activism from the "Lesser Seattle" movement, and he saw Nickels' as an ally. 

Other than last year's parks levy—which Nickels didn't want on the ballot, but which McGinn promoted (he ran the winning campaign)—I'm not sure when or why McGinn stopped supporting Nickels. (Maybe when he saw a recent poll he commissioned?)

However, I do know this. With the Sierra Club's backing, McGinn will be a formidable opponent. 

If you don't think the Sierra Club has clout, think again. Following McGinn's leadership, the Sierra Club  crushed the roads and transit initiative in 2007, believing—against all conventional wisdom—that light rail could (and should) come back for a vote, without roads, in 2008.

McGinn made that point in this (and this) now-classic debate filmed in front of the Stranger's editorial board in the fall of 2007. 

Accused of having spoiled the region's "last chance" to expand light rail, McGinn and the Club turned out to be right when they helped pass 2008's light rail expansion measure. 

McGinn, a lawyer who lives in North Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood where he got his political start fighting against Fred Meyer's big box re-development at N. 85th St., also founded a non-profit called The Great City Initiative.  Great City Initiative helped pass legislation dubbed "Complete Streets" which dictated that any new roads fixes in the city must be designed with pedestrians and bicyclists as part of the equation.

McGinn's track record—and rhetoric—always convinced me he's the agitatin' type who preferred to fight city hall instead of moving in. As the campaign gets underway, I'll be curious to hear McGinn's case for taking up residence in the halls of power.

Maybe he's just jealous of his twin brother, who's currently a state Rep. in Olympia.
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