McGinn at Northgate Link Groundbreaking in 2012 (Atomic Taco – Flickr)

No matter their ultimate veracity, the sex abuse allegations against Mayor Murray will make for a chaotic mayoral race this summer and fall, with everything suddenly seeming possible. Murray could resign before the primary, he could survive into the general as a wounded candidate, or he could emerge victorious if the field becomes crowded and dilutes the anti-Murray vote.

To everyone’s surprise, yesterday morning former Mayor Mike McGinn threw his hat into the ring once again. Long seen as a one-and-done Mayor who left few friends at City Hall, what is McGinn’s legacy? Does he stand a chance?

First things first, McGinn was nearly always right on the substance of growth and transit issues. A friend of the blog and endorsed by STB in 2009 and 2013, McGinn took the hottest of the early ‘bikelash’ heat from the mainstream press, famously earning the moniker of Mayor McSchwinn. His passion for a calmer, safer city that prioritized people rather than vehicles is undoubtedly one of his best legacies.

He was unflinchingly pro-transit, albeit sometimes in ways that made him seem erratic or indiscriminate. He called for another Ship Canal bridge at 3rd Avenue West, a long overdue idea that still needs to happen. He wanted rail to Ballard, and got pre-ST3 studies funded. But he also waffled on grade separation, pitching MAX-style streetcars instead. He often seemed to favor set-piece, symbolic transit that made for attractive, European cityscapes, but he also lacked a passion for optimizing transit’s capacity and performance.

He was an untraditional candidate and mayor, in ways that both helped and hurt him. You could often see him cycling down 5th Avenue towards City Hall, looking like a quintessentially Pacific Northwest, disheveled everyman.  His reputation as a go-it-alone, process-eschewing mayor was well deserved.

In McGinn’s defense, let’s remember that in 2009 the economy was terrible, money was tight, and everyone was angry. The SR 99 debacle was approaching its Gregoire-era strongarmed finale, with a tunnel no one really wanted (but no majority wanted any of the other options either). Into this morass McGinn benefited from both anti-tunnel and anti-Nickels fever, and he then triumphed over the milquetoast weakness of Joe Mallahan. He emerged as a victorious neophyte, and it showed.

He was brash and passionate and had a steep learning curve on which backs you have to scratch to get things done. He announced his budget and dropped a seawall ballot measure without talking to Council. He burned bridges quickly, and they never really got rebuilt.

Which is really too bad, because he grew in office and became a much better Mayor by the end. His early missteps hardened public perception of him unfairly, and much of the opposition to his policies began to look like anti-McGinn obstructionism. Against this reputation, the powers that be desperately wanted a traditional candidate, and Senator Ed Murray checked all the boxes and more. This coalition propelled Murray to a 52-48 victory.

So who is McGinn 2017? His press conference yesterday left a mixed taste in urbanist mouths. He made his traditional comments supporting growth and transit, and he called for progressive taxation via a city income tax. But he also sounded worryingly NIMBY, calling for more process on housing, and an increased role for neighborhoods in planning and development. He sounded much more anti-tax than usual, criticizing property tax levies that he said threatened to turn us into San Francisco.

Perhaps McGinn knows he can’t (and shouldn’t) run to the left of Nikkita Oliver, and that Murray will likely hold much of the neoliberal center and whatever exists of a “Seattle right”. If McGinn’s olive branch to neighborhoods is a way for him to try to hold the urbanist left while peeling off the anti-Murray neighborhood vote, it may be good triangulated politics. But it’s not coherent from a policy perspective, and increased calls for process will make most of us groan.

It’ll be interesting to see who McGinn’s constituency is this time around. If Murray survives, most of us think he’s done a pretty good job on urbanist issues. The left flank is far likelier to be excited by Nikkita Oliver, who brings a ton of energy and freshness to the race, even as her comments on housing are worrying. The bike-and-greenways crowd will be split between Andres Salomon and McGinn. Who votes for McGinn 2017? Let us know what you think in the comments.

47 Replies to “McGinn the Moderate?”

  1. Let me set your mind at ease. McGinn is not and has never been a NIMBY, nor does he want to empower them. He is a small-d democrat who recoils at closed-door, top-down decisionmaking. When HALA began to blow up in the summer of 2015, his critique wasn’t of the HALA proposals, but that Murray didn’t do any work with the public to build support for the ideas from the start – and thus made the good ideas vulnerable to attack and defeat.

    He served on and led a neighborhood council – one that was pro-density – and so he genuinely believes in public inclusion in planning and zoning. But he is insistent, and has been for the 6 years I’ve known him, that we *must* reach beyond the usual “neighborhood activists” and be more inclusive. He directed DON and DPD to do that when he was mayor. And just last summer he called out neighborhood councils that excluded renters (he’s said the same about the need to include immigrants & refugees, people of color, and more): http://crosscut.com/2016/06/is-there-room-on-neighborhood-councils-for-%E2%80%8Brenters/

    There is no chance at all that McGinn, who is as pro-density as it gets, has suddenly gone NIMBY. He just doesn’t believe that we can that density from the top down. We have to build public support and consensus for it. That’s what being in a democracy means.

    As to taxes, he’s always been consistent on that too. When we discussed levies during his term as mayor he would always say he worried about the impact of property taxes on low income homeowners and was disappointed Democrats in Olympia wouldn’t do more to fix our broken and regressive tax structure.

    1. I certainly liked McGinn the first time around. But, really, he has nothing to teach Murray about how to build community support for a proposal before introducing it at a cold open press conference.

    2. The idea of bringing density to the city on a wave of community support is appealing but more than a little idealistic. Current residents mostly have incentives against it. Homeowners have an incentive to preserve the housing shortage, both to inflate their own property values and to ensure they don’t lose that sacred parking spot in front of the house. Renters don’t want to have to move. Price stickiness in the rental market often means renters don’t face market-level rent increases until the landlord changes, and like all people they are often optimistic and assume the landlord won’t change. It’s genuinely hard to build support among current residents for something that benefits mostly future residents and renters facing a scenario many of them incorrectly assume they won’t face.

      My biggest disappointment with Murray (with whom, overall, I’ve been reasonably satisfied) is that he folded so quickly on the SFH upzone HALA recommendation. Citywide upzones are the hardest, but by far the most important, part of any solution to our housing supply crisis.

      1. I don’t think this analysis holds water. If it did, the NIMBY candidates would have done well in the 2015 elections. As it turned out, they all lost, and by big margins. Homeowners are generally quite open to adding more housing and changing zoning, but when it’s dropped on them as a surprise that came from closed door meetings, it’s going to cause more harm than good.

        Renters indeed don’t want to have to move, nor should they. Keeping people in a stable, affordable home should be a public policy goal. Hence the need for more housing.

      2. I wish a candidate would step out and say, “We have a housing supply crisis.” Will McGinn do that?

      3. “Homeowners are generally quite open to adding more housing and changing zoning”

        Hahahahaha. Homeowner resistance is the single biggest reason that several attempts to upzone have been stunted under multiple mayors and at multiple levels of government. It may be the majority of homeowners or it may be a few vocal nimbys, but the net result is the same either way, and it’s seriously exacerbating the housing shortage. The downtown upzone that’s currently being contemplated is supposed to net 400 affordable units and does nothing for workforce housing. We need to stop thinking in terms of 50 units here and 400 units there and start thinking of 20,000 or 40,000 units to accommodate everyone who wants to live in the city with rent at 30% of their income. We can only achieve that if we upzone single-family areas.

      4. Yeah. First Law of Political Process: Every complaint about process is a coded way to complain about outcomes.

        Homeowners don’t care who was in the meetings.

      5. The idea of bringing density to the city on a wave of community support is appealing but more than a little idealistic.

        Yeah, my concern about McGinn isn’t that I’m concerned about his politics, it’s that I’m concerned about how he’ll navigate those moments where his (pro-density) politics and his procedural preferences may be in some conflict.

        Robert is convinced that conflict is imaginary, but to get there he has to say things like “Homeowners are generally quite open to adding more housing and changing zoning,” which…yeah.

      6. ” We need to stop thinking in terms of 50 units here and 400 units there and start thinking of 20,000 or 40,000 units to accommodate everyone who wants to live in the city with rent at 30% of their income.”

        Any candidate who says something like this, and then backs it up with a forthright acknowledgment that citywide upzones are the essential element of it, gets my vote. (And I’d vote for Mike Orr for mayor in a heartbeat.)

        As Dan indicated, McGinn’s statement yesterday wasn’t nearly there. Robert, if you want your old boss to capture the urbanist and pro-housing vote, convince him to get there.

      7. @Brent: “Seattle is in the midst of a housing crisis. Even though we are building additional housing, it is simply not enough.” from https://andres4mayor.com/issues/#Housing

        Is that what you’re looking for?

        BTW, like Zach I’m also super concerned about splitting the bikes-and-safe-streets vote..

      8. As someone like Robert, who has been in a fair number of community meetings, I have to agree with him… Homeowners aren’t dumb. They see people moving here, and they want affordable places for their children to live nearby so they can see their grandkids, and they want to address the homeless crisis. What they don’t want is developers dropping ugly, cookie cutter projects willy nilly and folks who have no clue about the history of the neighborhood deciding where the growth should and shouldn’t go. I even know homeowners who want to build DADUs on their property and are pissed about the hoops the City requires you to jump through currently — and STILL are pissed about HALA and Mayor Murray’s proposals to upzone single family everywhere.

      9. “What they don’t want is developers dropping ugly, cookie cutter projects willy nilly and folks who have no clue about the history of the neighborhood deciding where the growth should and shouldn’t go.”

        The second you are “deciding where the growth should and shouldn’t go,” you are perpetuating the housing crisis, and privileging some (almost always wealthy and white) parts of the city over others. Growth should go everywhere, no exceptions, with everybody treated equitably. That’s why the HALA upzone-everywhere proposal was brave and correct.

      10. I’m not convinced either way by the 2015 election results, since by that time (even the time of the primary, let alone the general) the single family rezone was off the table.

      11. My biggest disappointment with Murray (with whom, overall, I’ve been reasonably satisfied) is that he folded so quickly on the SFH upzone HALA recommendation. Citywide upzones are the hardest, but by far the most important, part of any solution to our housing supply crisis.

        I completely agree. My first complaint is that Murray never voiced his opposition when the HALA negotiations were occurring. HALA was not a proposal by a renters rights organization, but a compromise proposal by various interest groups. If Murray had a problem with the makeup of the group, then he should have altered it from the beginning (e. g. get more neighborhood preservationists in there). The results might have been slightly different. For example, there might have been complicated language that encouraged conversion and ADUs over new construction in SFH zones. That might not have pleased developers (as more paperwork means higher costs) but it would have been a clear step up from the status quo. The most important aspect of that, though, is that it would have been part of the negotiation, and thus part of the final package. Now you have that same process being ignored, and the only argument that the mayor can make for ignoring the process is that he didn’t have the people on there he should have. No matter how you cut it, this was a failure by the mayor.

        I also think he simply overreacted to some squeaky wheels. As Robert said, NIMBY candidates all lost (in every single district). The folks opposed to growth of any sort are small compared to those horrified by the high cost of rent and housing. Without a doubt there are people who don’t want developers building lots of ugly new buildings, but the new rules wouldn’t necessarily do that. It really shouldn’t be too hard to explain to people that part of the problem — part of the reason we have built ugly buildings in the past — is the zoning itself. If you draw small circles in one part of town, and say you can only build there, then eventually *all* the houses in that area get replaced. Even really nice looking ones (https://tinyurl.com/kspyu6x). If you mandate parking, even for a simple duplex, then of course the builder is going to build something like this (https://goo.gl/maps/RfRouQjJHio) because they legally can’t build this(https://goo.gl/maps/K9MNiodjb9u).

        Meanwhile, there is no incentive to preserve a small house in a SFH area — they get replaced by monster houses every day. Loosen the ADU laws, and someone adds a small unit onto a small house. Eventually that could be replaced by a monster house, but there is bigger disincentive to do so (since the builder would be throwing away more value).

        In my neighborhood — Pinehurst — the situation is absurd. There are a lot of small houses on really big lots. When these sell, the lots are subdivided (and the existing house is usually demolished). So preservationists simply lose out. But so do urbanists. Because instead of subdividing into small lots, they subdivide into very big lots (I believe 9600 square feet) and put huge houses on each one. Thus instead of replacing one house with a small, Wallingford style apartment building (https://goo.gl/maps/KSP6FE73iT62) containing a dozen units, or replacing it with a half dozen row houses (https://goo.gl/maps/BQ2aEaEeJmP2) or even three or four small houses, it gets replaced with a couple of enormous houses. Everyone loses. This is not in keeping with the neighborhood (with its relatively small houses) nor does it do much to add affordability. Just adding as many houses (let alone apartments) would be better overall (and allow the developers to make more money) but it simply isn’t allowed under current code.

        The current situation is a mess, and there is no reason why someone can’t come up with proposals that do a much better job of building affordable housing and explaining why it would lead to a city that is not only more affordable, but nicer overall. But to do that takes leadership, something that is lacking in the city.

  2. The “grand bargain” talk rang false because that approach to overcoming opposition implies buying off incumbents, but single-family NIMBYs weren’t getting anything in the deal. I think 90% of what NIMBYs want is just the street parking in front of their house. Find a way to give/rent/sell that to them and we might escape becoming another San Francisco.

    1. Guam will freeze over before the collective NBA owners forgive Hansen for funding an initiative against the Sacramento basketball arena.

      A SODO arena could still happen some day, but not with Hansen being involved.

      1. Hockey is much more likely to happen– and I find it hard to believe that lower Queen Anne can handle all that parking (since a lot of the Key Arena parking lots are now apartments). I am skeptical about the parking apps work/driverless cars/gondolas will shuttle all those hockey fans smoothly before ST3 is built.

      2. Agree on Hockey – NHL appears eager to expand into the Seattle market, whereas NBA is content to play hard-to-get to boost the value of existing franchises.

        But I don’t think the old Key Arena is any further from transit than the SoDO arena. Hoofing it alomst 1/2 mile from the SoDo or Stadium stations to the arena really isn’t that different, from a time & effort perspective, than taking the monorail from Westlake. If you ‘fix’ the monorail with ORCA and give the D-line exclusive lanes & peak-level frequency during events, I think many people will be happy to take transit, even if it’s simply to go to their car they parked elsewhere in downtown.

        There is plenty of parking downtown. People just need to be comfortable taking a short bus (or monorail) trip from their parking spot to the arena, rather than simply walking from parking to the event.

      3. Even if you fix the monorail to use ORCA, it won’t be seen as part of the system unless transfers to it are seamless.

        Meanwhile, by the time the stadium is built ST2 will probably have built the spine from Lynnwood all the way down to Federal Way, and over to Bellevue. It will be approaching an actual (*gasp*) network that is accessible from every direction without having to actually drive into Seattle. Add some simple wayfinding and pedestrian improvements, and the 10 minute walk between Stadium Station will easily be able to handle 10k to 20k fans. Go one step further and encourage development in that area and you could have an entertainment district with bars, music venues, etc (I’m imagining Fenway in Boston) that would encourage people to walk.

      4. Hansen, in an interview with one of the local sports talk radio stations, said that he was not being blackballed by the NBA over funding an anti arena initiative in Sacramento.

        My big problem with the Key other than the monorail’s potentially insufficient capacity to handle large crowds within a limited amount of time for a game—long waits 20-30 and limited monorail car space for the thousands that would be traveling to a game, is the lack of potential space to expand the building in response to increasing revenue needs of professional sports. if the iconic roof is kept by the Landmark Commission, the developers won’t have the “wiggle room” to expand the facility to add more profitable seating, which will end up causing another crisis whereby a commissioner of either the NHL or the NBA will demand that Seattle builds a new arena (Hello SODO.)

        SODO Arena–more room for expansion and far better transit options the the Key–link, close to I-5, I-99, and I-90 as well as Sounder—Snohomish County residents would be hard pressed to attend games at the Key with limited parking in LQA, but have Sounder to get them to SODO with the greatest of ease.

      5. @ East Coast Cynic — Current plans call for keeping the roof, but adding capacity by digging deeper (check out the image here: http://www.seattletimes.com/sports/nba/keyarena-groups-have-similar-goals-different-proposals-for-renovation/). As far as location goes, I’ve supported the SoDo proposal because of its proximity to light rail (and central location in general). But I’ve come around to the Key Arena idea, based on some of the recent articles, for several reasons:

        1) The SoDo arena is really not great from a public transportation standpoint. It is a very long walk to the nearest station. We really built these arenas in the wrong place (the football one should be the farthest away).

        2) It is a very ugly place to walk. This means that people are way more likely to just drive, even though in theory taking public transportation is better.

        3) The monorail is flawed, but still capable of taking plenty of riders from the south.

        4) With Bertha done, it is now clear that the SR 99 project will be completed. This means that a bus (like the 8) will be able to cross Aurora (likely in its own lane) between Mercer and Denny, greatly improving travel speeds.

        5) Significant transit investments are being made in various places close to the Seattle Center. Right of way along Fairview is likely, making that connection a lot faster. I could see game day buses that go along 520 to I-5, then to Lower Queen Anne. A bus like that would travel in bus lanes most of the way, making it faster than driving. You also have the D, which provides frequent, if not fast service to the area.

        6) Parking is a pain for the Key Arena, which is a disincentive for driving. If I’m coming from Ballard, for example, the combination of frequent service and parking make taking the bus a better choice, overall. It might be a bit slower getting there, but I make it up by not spending time circling the block looking for a spot.

        7) Lower Queen has a lot more people nearby, and it is likely to grow. It is reasonable to assume that a significant number of people will simply walk to the game. I just don’t see that happening with the SoDo location.

        One really nice thing about the Key Arena proposal is that it forces the city to take the monorail seriously. The fact that folks are even mentioning it as an option (http://www.seattletimes.com/sports/nba/monorail-could-play-key-role-in-easing-traffic-if-keyarena-is-renovated-for-nba-nhl-use/) means that investment in it seems likely.

      6. The Circulator Monorail: the only design with low visual impact, single-track beams on simpler columns, 5 cars on a 6-mile route at 5-minute intervals to 14 major destinations, northbound on 4th Ave. Dancefloor and Center Grounds basement access after “threading the needle” at MXP and east portal. The west portal of this short tunnel is ‘above’ the Arena Plaza. Next stop on NW corner, then to Mercer and existing garage stop. A stop at Memorial Stadium across from Gates Foundation. KOMO station is 2-track with median boarding platform. Transfers there to re-entry Center grounds. Matches well with the official Waterfront Streetcar route design.
        Nobody at City Hall would here me.
        Not even Mike.
        Monorail still possible?
        Yes, this design is still possible.
        Yuuze yur majinashun.

  3. The winning candidate will hopefully be someone who makes an effort to connect with all people personally. Running a city is about inspiring teamwork and consensus – and being chrasmatuc enough to win people over — then being accessible enough to build as much grass-roots support as possible.

    McGinn has had three years to reframe his tarnished image as mayor. He doesn’t seem to have done that. Meanwhile, Murray initially started to build more connections with people but his accessibility has seemingly waned. His defense if conflict-ridden Kubly also helps to make him vulnerable.

    The residents have seen traffic lanes disappear, neighborhood congestion increase from resulting cut-through traffic, on-street parking rates skyrocket and potholes proliferate. SDOT comes off as dictatorial and unresponsive, forcing single alternatives at most meetings while no elected official bothers to show up! Seattle also has lots of new residents that never even voted for either guy – and won’t support a candidate that doesn’t try to connect with them.

    A populist new candidate with a good organization and message could be very competitive. A bruising competition between these two would easily set up a situation for someone else to emerge — someone who declares war in SDOT.

    1. Running a city is about inspiring teamwork and consensus – and being chrasmatuc enough to win people over — then being accessible enough to build as much grass-roots support as possible.

      When was the last time Seattle had a mayor anyone would seriously consider calling “charismatic”? Royer, maybe? I’m too young to remember.

      This sounds plausible in the abstract, but doesn’t seem to have anything at all to do with how Seattle politics actually works. Setting aside the allegations of sexual abuse, I basically liked Ed Murray as a mayor, but I find him off-putting and certainly not inspiring, and I don’t think I’m alone there. Nickels was a machine-type guy who took no small pleasure in steamrolling those who opposed him, when he could. Paul Schell and “charisma” were never once spotted together in the same zip code.

      1. “When was the last time Seattle had a mayor anyone would seriously consider calling “charismatic”? Royer, maybe? I’m too young to remember.”

        Norm Rice, aka “Mayor Nice”

      1. I’m with you. Road diets are good of course. What I’m really looking for is a candidate who will state in no uncertain terms that moving transit around the city is the number one priority for the limited street space, that red paint will be brought out anywhere and everywhere that buses tend to get stuck in traffic. If that means a street has to lose some parking spots, so be it. If that means some streets go down to zero “general purpose” lanes for part of the day, so be it.

      2. Thanks for a link proving my point, guys. SDOT completely ignores huge traffic increases on Lake Washington Blvd, 43nd Ave S and 38th Ave S in this report. SDOT doesn’t want real analysis or input; they just want self-congratulatory reports.

        Would SDOT publish a report actually criticizing what they do? Can you find one?

        Not all road diets are bad. Not all road diets are good. Making blanking statements endorsing all road diets is as bad as opposing them. It’s not that simplistic.

      3. I live a block off Lake Washington Blvd and drive on it quite often. Traffic levels on it are entirely manageable at all times of day. If we used its spare capacity to help make Rainier — the most dangerous street in the city — safer, that’s a great outcome.

      4. I support road diets… but let’s not claim alternative facts. They DO sometimes cause “more cut-through drivers, slower travel times, and more congestion.” Oddly enough, the link you provided has data showing exactly that. Were you looking at something different? More importantly, the after-reports often don’t look at all of the data. For example, cut-throughs doesn’t mean just one block over one way or the other. For example, it’s clearly evident that traffic increased on Delridge Way when 35th was rechannelized. That’s not cut-throughs in the neighborhood, but displaced traffic that needs to be adjusted for. Luckily, we’re looking at changes to Delridge as part of the Rapid Ride H planning.

      5. “Thanks for a link proving my point, guys. SDOT completely ignores huge traffic increases on Lake Washington Blvd, 43nd Ave S and 38th Ave S in this report.”

        I’ve talked to SDOT about this and they say they have made all their data public, and it doesn’t show big increases. The Rainier Ave re-channelization has been a huge success.

      6. This report looks like selective, illustrative results to me — intended to justify the project but not evaluate it.

        1. SDOT only reports speeds on 42nd Ave S, not volumes. The street is very narrow and has parking on both sides, so any traffic increases are disruptive. Even 100 more vehicles at peak hour would be a significant increase.

        2. The locations that they counted Lake Washington Blvd and Seward Park Avenue are not parallel to the area where the lane reduction occurred. Where other more logical places counted, then ignored?

        3. The impact to traffic volumes on 38th Avenue S is completely ignored in the report. Surely SDOT counted this street. Why didn’t SDOT report on it?

        4. The transit speeds are not field data but are instead reported as ‘modelled’. It’s also clear that the time period is not disclosed. A before-and-after study should never report anything that is merely ‘modeled’. With OBA, it should be possible to observe how long buses take to go this stretch by just a little bit of monitoring. Modeling the results and bluffing them as ‘after’ conditions is not only methodologically incorrect, but it’s more expensive to do! I can’t believe they didn’t ask some intern to watch two stops on OBA at the peak hour for a few days to get real ‘before’ and ‘after’ results.

        5. The traffic volume changes in the report are to daily traffic and not peak hour traffic. Of course the volumes won’t change much on a daily basis! The PM peak hour is really where the impact is noticeable.

        6. The report jumps around between speeds and volumes. In some cases, there is only ‘before’ data and in some cases there is just ‘after’ data.

        If I was grading this in a data analysis class, the author would be getting a low grade.

  4. I’d vote for him again. Sure, he doesn’t play Seattle nice with the council, but it’s not like Murray has solved all the problem by being a great consensus builder.

    1. There are also a bunch of new folks on the council who weren’t here when McGinn was mayor— a bit less establishment than the previous council?

  5. I’ll gladly vote for McGinn. Murray is fine but shows absolutely no charisma or passion for anything. He just wants to please as many people as possible and he’ll always listen to the loudest voice in the room. Sometimes you just need to do the “right” thing versus trying to please every single person. I liked that McGinn knew what was “right” for transit and he was willing to do unpopular things. Biking has been a complete and utter disaster in this city under Murray. It was promising that he got 2nd ave and Westlake PBL done but his failure to connect bike infrastructure, implement the BMP and not expanding Pronto has set us back years. We’ve made great progress in expanding our bus and rail transit but while I’m waiting 20+ years for the light rail to reach my neighborhood, we need safe, all age bike infrastructure to help fill in the gap. McGinn is the only one running that I trust to get this done.

    1. I still find it strange that for the biggest transit vote in this area for the past 10 years (ST3), the mayor’s SDOT person would not talk to this blog about their proposal.

  6. I’m not a big fan of political opportunists and I am a big fan of those who are courageous enough to be out front in running against someone whose time has come. Patty Murray had the guts to say what no one else would say about Brock Adams and forced him out of his reelection race; I admired that. Jim McDermott had headed off to Africa when suddenly Mike Lowry was running for governor and rushed back to run for his seat in Congress; I didn’t find that particularly impressive when candidates with similar views were already running (e.g., Norm Rice). Brady Walkinshaw had the guts to tell McDermott his time had come, which I found more impressive than Pramila Jayapal suddenly deciding after McDermott dropped out that she had a mission to run in a district she didn’t even live in.

    McGinn running against Greg Nickels in 2009 was an act of courage. No one thought Nickels was vulnerable even though we all knew why he was vulnerable. McGinn articulated the reasons why (and Nickels didn’t make the general).

    McGinn deciding to run against Murray only after the allegations came out against him doesn’t strike me the same way.

    That doesn’t settle all the issues, but it doesn’t make me automatically want to vote for McGinn.

  7. The council has gone hard left and we need a grown up in City Hall. Tim Burgess or Bruce Harrell would be good candidates, too. And maybe one of them can salvage the generational miss that is ST3’s Ballard alignment. Sound Transit continues to utterly fail Seattle, and because they would prefer to be accountable to local governments and not transit riders directly, whoever lands in City Hall needs to hold ST accountable for delivering game-changing projects that set us up for success in the next 100 years.

    1. Generational miss? As far as I can tell it goes to Ballard and downtown, so it connects northwest Seattle to the regional transit network. That was what people were screaming for. At least half of it will be underground, the most congested area, and it will probably run at Link’s existing frequency of 10 minutes or better. All that makes for a quality line. It also serves SLU, which was the biggest oversight in previous regional plans. So what’s the generational miss? That it doesn’t go to UW, Fremont, or Queen Anne? Ballard needed to be connected to either downtown or UW, and there are good arguments on both sides of that. Fremont is within a 15-minute bus ride of either downtown, UW, or Ballard, so it’s not as isolated as Ballard is and doesn’t need light rail as much. A Queen Anne tunnel would be a transit-network nicety, but it’s not a major or essential node as long as QA resists growing to at least Fremont’s size.

      If you want to see a generational loss, look Sound Move. I was one of those who lost out on it in my childhood, teenage, and young adult years. I lived in Ballard for a short time in 2003, and while Link hadn’t started yet then, I can well imagine what it’s like to live there now a minimum 30-minute bus trip from the nearest HCT station. Not appropriate for the fourth largest urban center in Seattle (even if it’s not officially designated). ST’s plan solves at least 80% of that problem, and remember the 80/20 rule — don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. A Queen Anne tunnel would have cost a lot more, and North King’s budget is already tight with Ballard, West Seattle, DSTT2, 130th, and Graham. You may prefer downgrading West Seattle, but that doesn’t have widespread political support.

      1. I think it is a generational miss because it *doesn’t* connect northwest Seattle to the regional transit network. It only one small sliver to downtown, and by extension, the south end. Ballard to the UW would improve just about *all* of northwest Seattle transit trips. For example, here are trips that will be no faster when ST3 is finally built out, but would be significantly faster with Ballard to UW light rail:

        Ballard to Greenwood. Fremont or Phinney Ridge (the Greenwood/Phinney corridor).
        Ballard to anywhere near Aurora.
        Ballard to Wallingford.
        Ballard to UW.
        Ballard to Roosevelt, Northgate or Lake City.
        Ballard to Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood or Everett.
        Fremont to downtown.
        Fremont to the UW.
        Fremont to Roosevelt, Northgate, Lake City, Shoreline (you get the idea).
        Wallingford to downtown, UW, Roosevelt, Northgate, etc.

        In short, Ballard to UW would improve just about every connection from northwest Seattle. Much of that would be via Link, but there would also be lots of connections via relatively reliable, fast and frequent bus service (which would, in turn, add to increased frequency of those routes).

        There are losses, of course. Lower Queen Anne isn’t served as well. But these improvements are overrated. What if you want to get from Phinney Ridge to South Lake Union, for example. You could take two buses to get over to Ballard, then take a train. Or just take the 5. Even in lower Fremont, where you can take one bus to Ballard, it is probably a wash between back tracking up north and then heading south or just slogging your way on the 40. Even the biggest improvements — Ballard to Lower Queen and SLU, for example, improve trips that are relatively fast right now, which is another critical difference.

        Transit is most popular when it can compete with driving. For much of the day, there are very few trips where Ballard to ST3 does that. Driving along that corridor is very fast. Ballard to the UW, on the other hand, is the opposite — even in the middle of the day the subway would be faster.

        A Ballard to UW subway was (and is) a rare opportunity to actually enhance both the bus and rail grid, while providing improved service to downtown for many riders. Building something *more expensive* while providing less, is indeed a lost opportunity.

      2. There’s arguments on both sides of that. The alignment may not be closer for trips within north Seattle, but it’s more direct for trips for trips south and to the Eastside. I would have preferred Ballard-UW because it would have been unusually good for both east-west and north-south trips, but the fact remains that the largest number of people going to any one place are going downtown, and that’s where the largest variety of transit opportunities are. Given that, I can see why the board felt it just couldn’t cast the die for UW. Plus thee’s SLU’s growth which will generate a lot of trips on top of that.

  8. I would have voted for Greg Nickels without a second thought. He was far and away the better qualified candidate. But he campaigned as if either he thought he had the office in the bag. Or the contents of the bag were too ripe to recycle.

    I voted for Mike McGinn for one reason only. He sincerely wanted to be the mayor of Seattle at a time when nobody else wanted the job. In politics more than any other important aspect of life, what you do on one issue or another is less important than how you’ll act when being there at all, let alone doing right, will lose you the next election.

    Maybe Mike ought to move to a district whose Democratic State representatives just handed Sound Transit what we in the trade call a “Preventable.” Under circumstances that warrant Termination.

    Mark Dublin

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