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An intriguing mayor possibility, Maud Daudon

This former deputy mayor and Chamber of Commerce chair is looking at a mayor's race in 2013, but she may be too much of an unknown and with too little fire in the belly to do it.

Maud Daudon.

Maud Daudon. Seattle Chamber

It's a measure of Mayor Mike McGinn's endangered political prospects that the 2013 mayoral race in Seattle is already pretty much under way. There are big names hinting at their interest: former King County Executive Ron Sims, State Sen. Ed Murray. And a leading contender is already clearly in the race, City Councilmember Tim Burgess.

Here's a new name who admits she is "thinking about it, though still in the listening mode." Maud Daudon is the "candidate" in question.

Daudon is hardly a household name, though she is well known in influential business and political circles. She was the chief financial officer at the Port of Seattle, where she got to know Port Commissioner Paul Schell. When Schell became mayor in 1997, Daudon became his deputy mayor, concentrating on administration and public safety issues. After Schell lost his reelection bid in 2001, Daudon has worked at Seattle-Northwest Securities Corporation, where she is now CEO, an employee-owned investment bank focused on public finance for schools and other entities. She just stepped down after a year as board chair of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. She and her husband Marc are big players in the local environmental movement.

Her friends and admirers are pushing her to think seriously about running. Daudon says she only spends a few hours a month in exploring the idea, though neither is she rebuffing it. Some are pushing a Daudon candidacy because of their desire to have a woman mayor, or at least a serious woman candidate for mayor. This is a perennial theme, though the strongest possible candidates — Martha Choe, now at the Gates Foundation, Sally Jewell, CEO of REI, Virginia Anderson, former head of Seattle Center, former City Librarian Deborah Jacobs — never accede. Polls indicate a strong desire for a woman mayor, at least in general. (Jan Drago did poorly in the 2007 race.) Others think Daudon's broad-coalition politics would be just what the doctor ordered for Seattle's ailing politics.

She sees the city as bursting "with untapped potential, full of talented people who could do amazing things if you focus their energies." She has a theme for modern Seattle, one she has pushed effectively in her year as head of the Chamber: "sustainable prosperity." That refers in part to green tech as a great global opportunity for the region, as well as to ways of heading the parade to a post-carbon economy. What holds us back, she says, is the high degree of division in local politics, with Mayor McGinn as a principle practitioner of the politics of division.

At one level, you might think Daudon, 55, has too many albatrosses around her neck. The Schell administration, still in reputational eclipse. Being an investment banker, and of a firm that put together the controversial financing plan for the Monorail. Head of the Chamber. An unknown. (I recently gave a talk to the Plymouth Church forum, a well-informed civic group, and asked the audience of 100 how many had ever heard of Daudon. Two hands went up.)

At another level, however, the voters are hungry for a fresh face, and one who clearly understands business and regional economics. Burgess's drawback will be that he is a city councilmember, and they only rarely ascend to the mayor's office. Sims has his own mixed record at the county to defend (particularly his lavish spending on labor unions). Murray would have an unpopular legislature to live down. Daudon, if she does get fire in the belly for the job (not there yet), could seem to be the new force, reflecting Seattle's old vision and new mission.

She also has an interesting life story, nicely blending public service and private sector expertise. She grew up outside Chicago and went to the counter-cultural, progressive Hampshire College in Massachusetts. An early job as a city planner in Corvallis convinced her that she had to understand business, so off she went to Yale's graduate School of Management.


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Comments:

Posted Wed, Sep 21, 6:53 a.m. Inappropriate

Let's see big time Liberal, Environmentalist, likes Brugress and Constantine in other words more of the same.

Cameron

Posted Wed, Sep 21, 8:58 a.m. Inappropriate

While I'd love to see the right female mayor, the idea, if true, that Ms. Daudon thinks highly of Tim Burgess and Dow Constantine, those folks whose views of parking rates (an arm and a leg) and predictability, and of car licensing fees (more and more and more, and for goodness sake, don't give the voters a chance to speak), convinces me that Ms. Daudon would not be my choice. The fact that she's the chair of the local Chamber of Commerce doesn't improve my opinion.

Contrary to the writer's view that "the voters are hungry for a fresh face and one who clearly understands business and regional economics," I am hungry for a fresh face, yes, but all we've had in local and regional government for a very long time are officeholders who are WAY too friendly with business, i.e., developers, and I couldn't be less hungry for more of that!

mspat

Posted Wed, Sep 21, 10:41 a.m. Inappropriate

She would have my vote. With her background and track record of successes in the public and private sectors she is certainly a cut above the current interested parties.

Posted Wed, Sep 21, 11:03 a.m. Inappropriate

What a sad but true statement:

"Other regions (Austin, Denver, Philadelphia) are starting to far outpace Seattle in political leadership and strategic positioning. These are rising or rebounding cities, while Seattle is a complacent region..."

Urbanist

Posted Wed, Sep 21, 11:45 a.m. Inappropriate

The ultimate and classic definition of 'trial balloon' sums up this piece. Who, exactly, is itching for a Daudon mayoral run? And, how many more current or past members of the Gates Foundation employee ranks are considered possible mayoral candidates? I'm surprised that the foundation has not hired Nickels, Sims, Rice, Royer, etc. to join the list of former public servants on the payroll. Finally, the reference to 3 other cities is quite a tease with zero specifics. What precisely is going on in those 'oupacing Seattle' places?

animalal

Posted Wed, Sep 21, 12:27 p.m. Inappropriate

Who?

Posted Wed, Sep 21, 1:08 p.m. Inappropriate

What the article seems to point to is someone who can clearly be identified as a green progressive with someone who also has enough strategic business sense to realize Seattle needs to find its niche in the next incarnation of the regional economy. That's not about rich people being richer, its about people being employed, talent continuing to be nurtured, educational opportunities being expanded, export trade thriving, workforce needing to be better trained and linked with employers, and venture capital being attracted. And it has to be done in a way that unites and inspires a community as we move, inevitably, into a post-carbon world. Only someone who has both environmental and business chops can do that, and I see no current candidate out there to replace McGinn that fits that, nor does the current Mayor.

I've got three words for you: Run, Maud, Run!

TomB

Posted Wed, Sep 21, 3:09 p.m. Inappropriate

If she is everything to say she is, tell her to to fund a start-up and hire people in the private sector. We have plenty of Liberal, Non-Jobs producing, Green Sustainability folks in office right now, she offers nothing unique.

Cameron

Posted Wed, Sep 21, 4:07 p.m. Inappropriate

She would be great! Determined, smart, focused with values and a sense of humor....Brewster is right - she has to make up her mind soon -either in or out! I hope in!

fen1027

Posted Wed, Sep 21, 5:31 p.m. Inappropriate

Maud is smart, hard-working and dedicated to public service. The fact that she wrestles with this choice indicates that her ego and drive for self-aggrandizement is tempered by a thoughtful evaluation of what she could offer to the city. I love the idea of someone with this termperament, not to mention experience -- and gender, considering a run for Mayor. Plus, I too am a Hampshire College grad and want the bragging rights. Go Frogs!

mavis

Posted Fri, Sep 23, 10:29 a.m. Inappropriate

McGinn Lite? An environmentalist, yet an investment banker with the Monorail project? Hardly a winning combination. She'll never make it out of the primary.

I've got a better idea, run for city council. You have a chance there.

GaryP

Posted Fri, Sep 23, 4:58 p.m. Inappropriate

Yeah, I'm sure Seattle is all hot to go for another "outsider" candidate, especially one who was part of the Schell administration, beloved by theorists and loathed by most of the rest of us. She was his Deputy Mayor? I hope she was not as tone deaf to the residents of the city as was her boss. Assuming that Burgess will be handicapped by his being on the council is a real stretch. By 2013, I'm guessing he'll be looking very, very good to the voters of our city...a reasonable and able public servant who understands that the Mayor does not stand alone when it comes to managing the city. Nor do I give Ms.Daudon any points for being "conflicted" about running for the job...that makes me think she doesn't have the stomach for a hard campaign and for the tough and nasty stuff which comes with the office. "I'm not a politician" some of them say...then fine, stay out of politics.

TaylorB1

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