As we noted in Jolt yesterday, the '90s are over: That is, the old debate—growth vs. "neighborhoods," density vs. single-family housing, Greater Seattle vs. Lesser Seattle—is over. And nothing demonstrates that more potently than the fact that the Lesser Seattle crowd doesn't have a candidate to back in this year's mayor's race.
The two candidates who went through in this week's mayoral primary, state Sen. Ed Murray and incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn, are both pro-density liberals with big support from downtown establishment developers such as top execs at Vulcan.
Former city council member Peter Steinbrueck, who, fairly or unfairly, was backed by the Lesser Seattle, anti-density crowd, came in a distant third.
Here's what John Fox and Carolee Coulter of the Seattle Displacement Coalition, a developer watchdog group that fights to preserve existing low-income and affordable housing, had to say about McGinn and Murray, respectively, before the election.
"This is the most zealously pro-developer, pro-density mayor our city has seen ... He’s steered the city away from asking developers to pay impact fees for infrastructure. He appoints only people tied to the development industry to every land-use or planning board or commission. He’s failed to address the accelerating loss of affordable housing and the displacement of thousands of low-income, minority and working people due to increased rents, demolition and speculative sale — all effects of the runaway growth he shamelessly promotes.""Our goal is not 'No Growth' but finding a candidate willing to mitigate enormous social costs and support real tools to ensure developers share the costs. McGinn sure isn't the guy for that."—Seattle Displacement Coalition founder John Fox
"Last year, the Displacement Coalition sought repeatedly to facilitate a meeting between Murray and neighborhood and housing/homeless advocates so that he understood our concerns about impacts of growth on our communities and our stock of existing low-income and affordable housing. He never would meet with us. So it comes as no surprise that now, on the campaign trail, he’s demonstrated a lack of concern or even knowledge of these critical issues.
"Likewise, it comes as no surprise that Murray is embraced by corporate and downtown elites, including key insiders from past administrations."
Meanwhile, here's what they said about Steinbrueck, whom they endorsed. "He’s our only hope in fact to challenge the status quo and return city hall to its citizens. We’re supporting him."
So, we asked Fox whether the Displacement Coalition plans to endorse in the general election now that Steinbrueck is out. He said maybe on Murray, but made it clear that the group won't be backing McGinn.
"If Ed looked us in the eye and really supported those things, promised to push for those things, we probably would support him and urge others including Peter to do the same.""Needless to say from our perspective the Mayor's race did not go well. [Pike Place Medical Clinic co-founder] Joe Martin on the Coalition's behalf soon will be seeking a meeting with Ed. He was reluctant even to meet with us late last Fall (and that was before any of us endorsed Peter). ...
"We want to see how committed he is to 'bringing us all together' and follow up on his very recent overtures/hints that he may respond to some of our concerns about growth and gentrification and need for tools that either prevent displacement or require developers to replace one for one any low income units they remove."
(Indeed, during his victory speech on election night, in a statement that jumped out from the rest of his usual pledges about schools, transportation, police, and diversity, Murray added that he supported both "density" and 'traditional neighborhoods,' saying, "We can do both.")
As for McGinn, Fox told us: "Our goal is not 'No Growth' but finding a candidate at least willing to mitigate enormous social costs and support real tools to ensure developers at least share the costs. McGinn sure isn't the guy for that."
Fox concluded, "If Ed looked us in the eye and really supported those things, promised to push for those things, we probably would support him and urge others including Peter to do the same."