Police Chief Search Takes Center Stage in Mayoral Campaign

By Josh Feit October 9, 2009


McGinn outside the abandoned Philly's sandwich shop at 23rd & Union

Mayoral candidate Mike McGinn held a press conference this morning at 23rd and Union in the Central District chiding his opponent Joe Mallahan for telling outgoing Mayor Greg Nickels that the recently-convened 24-member police chief search committee needs to stop its work until after the election.

Nickels asked both candidates if it was okay to move forward and Mallahan said no, because, according to Mallahan campaign spokeswoman Charla Neuman, "Joe wants to be heavily involved in the process and perhaps add one or two people [to the committee]. That's difficult to do during a campaign."

Asked if Mallahan also might want to remove anyone from the committee, Neuman said, "No, I don't think Joe has said that."

She also said the committee's work would pick right back up (with Mallahan involved) right after the election.

This morning, McGinn said a search for a new chief can take up to six months and it doesn't make sense to delay the process when public safety is such a major issue right now. "It's inappropriate not to let the the committee move forward with its work," McGinn said. "The mayor did a lenghty public process [convening the committee.]"  McGinn accused Mallahan of politicizing the process.

Mallahan's campaign shot back with a statement accusing McGinn of politicizing the process.

I don't know who's politicizing who, but the candidates' disagreement over the committees' work gives us a hint about their different approaches to governing.

By signing off on the committee that Team Nickels put together and nodding to the community folks who have already been pulled into the process—the committee includes Kate Joncas of the business-friendly Downtown Seattle Association and affordable housing activist Hyeoke Kim—McGinn is (positive spin) demonstrating a penchant for an inclusive, collegial approach that gets things done. Negative spin: McGinn is a wishy washy wimp.

Mallahan's approach? By asking Nickels to halt the committee's work, Mallahan is (positive spin) demonstrating a penchant for leaderhsip, taking control and full responsibility for the next chief. Negative spin: What an ego driven control freak.
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