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Live from Nickels' Press Conference

By Erica C. Barnett August 21, 2009

9:55 am: Waiting for Mayor Greg Nickels to emerge from his office into the seventh-floor Norm B. Rice conference room. The room is packed with city hall staffers (many of them from city council offices), reporters, and grim-faced mayoral staffers. The mayor's announcement (presumably a concession) is planned for 10:00 am.

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10:00 am. Nickels concedes. But he  still has a sense of humor:

"When I became mayor in 2002  decided... that I would rather be a mayor who gets things done than a politician who left nothing more behind than footprints in the sand [and do the right thing, rather than] what might be popular. Based on Tuesday's primary election results I have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams."

"Serving as mayor of this fine city has been the greatest honor of my life. ... The voters have elected me twice. Having made wise decisions in both those instances, I'm in no position to second guess them now."

"Together we built bike trails, sidewalks, libraries and parks. ...  And we created an atmosphere of racial and social justice."

"Those who are running for office must make a case that they are the best person. But they should not denigrate what we have done. ... Do not distort the true picture of Seattle. We are an amazing place at an amazing time."

At this point, he seems to be tearing up. Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis looks stricken.

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Asked whether he regretted going negative against Joe Mallahan and Mike McGinn in the last days of the campaign, Nickels said he "isn't really reflective on the campaign today," adding that he simply never broke through the 25-percent barrier he would have needed to surmount to beat his challengers.

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Asked whether he's supporting either candidate who's made it on to the general election, Nickels responded, "I have not made a decision who I'm going to vote for, much less whether I'm going to make an endorsement."

Asked what he plans to do next, Nickels said he has no idea, but that "nothing in my future career will match the honor of being mayor of this city. But it may pay better."

Nickels doesn't respond to several questions about missed opportunities and regrets. He does seem extremely emotional, though—asked how he's feeling, he says, in a shaking voice, "It's harder for [friends and family] than it was for me, because for me, it's part of the deal, and they don't have a choice."
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