Dream job: 9 mayoral candidates, 9 visions for Seattle

As the mayoral primary approaches, we distill the candidates' visions - in six words or less.
Nine candidates: nine visions for Seattle. Pick one.

Nine candidates: nine visions for Seattle. Pick one. Thuc Nhi Nguyen

Seattle likes practical politicians, but it also like idealists, people with big ideas. We're a city shaped by engineers, but our ego floats on lofty visions. We see ourselves as that gleaming city on the hill(s).

So, as the Aug. 6 election deadline approaches, how do we break down the visions of the nine candidates? How do we separate the plodders from the dreamers?

Here's our attempt to boil down the candidate messages into pithy slogans that try to reflect the gist of what each of them says they have to offer.

Bruce Harrell: One Seattle!
The city council member, the only candidate of color in the race, speaks of bridging the social, class and racial divide — and the North-South divide — by creating a city of opportunity for everyone. Harrell bestrides both worlds: a lad from South Seattle, and a successful corporate attorney, he's the guy who grew up poor and now lives in a fancy home near Seward Park and owns a townhouse in Bellevue. His is a social justice agenda driven by a vision of corporate largesse. Getting the city's affluent to dig deeper to fund education, for example, and mentoring young people so they have some hope that there is a ladder they can climb.

Mike McGinn: Most progressive city in America!
It's no longer enough to be the greenest, the smartest, the best-read city, fodder for an old Jean Godden column. In the McGinn vision, Seattle, anchor of the former Soviet of Washington, is destined to lead nationally, leaving cities like Portland and San Francisco in the dust — kicked up by our trail bikes, of course. Whether it's the Whole Foods controversy, or proposing an aggressive program for expanding urban rail, from the symbolism of riding his bike to work or insisting that our state highway department still isn't green enough, McGinn has staked out a national political vision and sees Seattle leading all progressives to the promised land of enlightened, liberal urbanism.

Peter Steinbrueck: It's the neighborhoods, stupid!
It's not about national leadership, it's about making the diverse city of cultural islands more complete, more unified, more livable. It's about smarter planning and respecting the grassroots that make Seattle the unique place it is, especially in the face of enormous growth to come. Better planning, a warmer embrace of our rich history, a city that's diverse but also coherent, an urban entity that is not dominated and shaped solely by private development and corporate forces. New urbanist ideas, yes, but also respect for city soul and community character. If Steinbrueck runs under the banner of the Pike Place Market clock, it's not because it's antique. It's because the Market's populist urban roots will lead to a better future.

Ed Murray: Competent leadership!
Murray has yet to articulate the dream city Seattle could be, but his progressive values and pragmatism promote the idea of quiet leadership, long-term focus, reaching across the aisle. Seattle is a big city that deserves a mature leader who implements progressive ideas (like marriage equality) even if it takes time and persuasion. Murray's is a city of competence, not grandstanding. It's not a city in a hurry either. Murray is a liberal's liberal, but he looks like a guy who could be at home in the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce. His style is Seattle old-school: liberalism, business and no flash.

Charlie Staadecker: I believe in Seattle!
His campaign button says it all: he is the wise father who looks at our report card then quietly lectures us about living up to our potential, that we can do better than a gentleman's C+. With his bow tie and summer suits, he seems to have dropped in from another age enshrined in some back room at the Rainier Club. He's thoughtful, a fourth-generation Seattleite who cares. Much of his platform is common sense, his vision both practical and aspirational, if slightly out of touch: He says we need a city government that's run like a nice hotel. A chocolate on every pillow? His Seattle is nice, sincere, patrician and a little unfashionable, though Staadecker is the only one to remind us not to forget to have fun!


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Comments:

Posted Wed, Jul 31, 8:42 a.m. Inappropriate

Joey Gray: WE can get this city organized, fairly!
An independent who prefers progressive action to messaging, Gray is focused on consistent good governance (vs. obtrusive, arbitrary politicking); institutionalizing equity for all, all the time (vs. one-off token programs, overdue studies, favoritism, lip service); and on enduring environmental protection that celebrates conservation and effective innovation by all. An experienced executive with graduate studies in management and organization, she prefers to thank others rather than draw attention to herself. She has called for a small business renaissance, including streamlining necessary rules and regulations, which she's done on a national and international scale. She wants campaigns kept short, inexpensive, and reality-based, with great respect for Seattle voters' intelligence. http://votejoeygray.com

Posted Wed, Jul 31, 9:06 a.m. Inappropriate

I dont know, but I seem to notice a lot of shopworn language here. A platitudinous way of putting things. Perhaps it doesn't matter. During my ten years here I have seen that cheap still runs deep, history I suppose is to blame. I have noticed an increase in the class divide - and yet I think it must be deligtful to grow up as a middle class child in Seattle - as it was during Mary McCarthys time - and then to leave, and maybe return after you have extirpated some of the indigenous provincialism - not that this odd hipster has'nt a surfeit of now ineradicable NY hipness in him. For, though Seattle may regard itself as progressive, it will never really be unless it becomes less square - less anal, fewer old women and I include a lot of men in that appelation, reporting no end of minor infractions, less puritanical minded - a difficult thing to do, and more problematic than sipping lattes, in such an utterly square country as Los Unidod Estados Norte is. Perhaps a large influx of Jews and Mexicans will do the trick?
That is one thing I became aware of these past ten years, a matter I had never had the opportunity to observe, or given thought to, how provinciality perpetuates itself. How deeply it is embedded. Thus a lot of nice folks are running for mayor. Incidentally, a fellow named Steinbrueck is also running for German Chancellor as the Socialist Party Candidate, Peer the first name. And, also, if this is "the best read city" - why does it tolerate The Seattle Times and its obverse, The Stranger? Because it has always been like that??

mikerol

Posted Wed, Jul 31, 9:37 a.m. Inappropriate

Doesn't Peter Steinbruek realize that the clock on his campaign posters only makes him appear to be riding on the coattails of his father?

jeffro

Posted Wed, Jul 31, 10:49 a.m. Inappropriate

July 30, Big Bad Bertha begins its evil mission to destroy Seattle, therefore, somewhat earnest Mike McGinn will not make it past the primary. Mayor Mikey will learn what happens to elected representatives who obstruct malevolent corporate plutocracy. Seattle is still a boom & bust resource extraction and profit-seeking Gold Rush town grinding human lives into dust and insolvency.

Wells

Posted Wed, Jul 31, 11:41 a.m. Inappropriate

Mayoral campaign in 6 words: One Adult, 8 Children. Vote Staadecker.

animalal

Posted Wed, Jul 31, 12:08 p.m. Inappropriate

Joey is the only mayoral candidate who has consistently emphasized the importance of privacy, and who has the background to understand how to administer it. She's made use of time at forums that was allotted for candidates to talk about themselves, to speak about privacy rights and breaches instead. See her Friends of the Seattle Public Library forum closing statement. After that, the President of the American Library Association came out with a similar statement for the nation. http://votejoeygray.com/vision

Posted Wed, Jul 31, 3:31 p.m. Inappropriate

mikerol: Seattle is not even close to "progressive." Wells has it right; like most American cities it is controlled by a neo-liberal oligarchy. David Brewster accurately calls the elites who run Seattle the "urban regime"--http://crosscut.com/2013/04/30/politics-government/114196/seattles-next-mayor-will-be-mcginn-like/ Steinbrueck is in fact the only viable candidate who challenges that regime.

animalal: Staadecker is an honorable man, but he's running a 1950s campaign. Not a chance.

Vote Joey Gray: Wasted vote.

louploup

Posted Wed, Jul 31, 5:56 p.m. Inappropriate

Looptheloop I'd agree that - best as I can tell - it's a kind of oligarchy, but compared to no end of cities, especially in the so-=called heartland, I'd say it's certainly progressive. And unlike, say the PRI in Mexico, it is not an oligarchy that grew out of the kind of arrested development that occurs once revolutionaries are in power for too long. The real estate interests may not be quite as important as in New York, but it is they and a variety of industries, including military-industrial, and it is a really wide variety at this point, that provide the fundament. Its tolerance me be ultimately repressive, I grant, but I think it is a city with real possibilities in the long run.

mikerol

Posted Wed, Jul 31, 8:33 p.m. Inappropriate

Yes, liberal in the social sense (gay marriage! legal pot!), but progressive? Not even close: regressive taxes, and getting worse every election/legislative cycle, lax land use regulation, no impact fees, lion's share of taxes support downtown infrastructure. Oligarchs, elites, regime; they all mean the same to me--huge and increasing maldistribution of wealth.

Long term possibilities for democratic governance, yes, but not so much if people can't tell the difference between liberal and neo-liberal, or between regressive and progressive. As bad as Mexico or other U.S. cities? Maybe not, but by some measures, as a country yes we are (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/09/map-us-ranks-near-bottom-on-income-inequality/245315/). Anyway, I live here, not there. Thanks for your comments.

p.s. Be sure to read that Brewster column, and also http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/local/

louploup

Posted Thu, Aug 1, 7:13 p.m. Inappropriate

How to you propose to defang neo-liberalism? Nationalization only works for services like electricity, sewage, water. It would of course be great if oil were nationalized since it belongs if not to God to all the people, and as it is in most countries in the world. The competition between railroads, now a matter of the past, was unnecessary from the perspective of "the public good." It would seem to be a general failure of understanding or agreement what constitutes the "public good" to which one can trace a lot of problems that politics then seeks to address. E.g. the self-made millionaire candidate believes in his mantra- and entirely forgets the 99 of a hundred rats that don't succeed, or who are too smart to enter the race. d'accord on regressive taxation - but hasnt that been the case in this state since forever? it falls into the category "cheap runs deep", and is a cultural problem. capitalism has the effect of atomizing and estranging human beings from each other. the origins of this country lie in the plantation, british landowners, in exploitation. Amazingly it is possible to get large percentages of voters to vote against their own interest.

mikerol

Posted Sat, Aug 3, 11:11 a.m. Inappropriate

mikerol--I wish I had an easy answer to privatization of the commons and related increases in maldistribution of wealth (and thus of political power). Generally, humans seem to be on the path toward more democratic governance, but the political and economic trends are not good. Also, democracy appears to be based in large part on increased wealth per capita ("middle class"), based in large part in the past couple centuries on the development of fossil fuels for cheap energy. Now that the age of cheap oil is coming to an end, it is difficult to see a future with the neo-liberal capitalist system continuing in its current structure. Corporate capitalism needs endless growth and the ability to move raw material and capital—and to seek the cheapest labor—at will . These actions will be increasingly expensive/difficult through this century.

I think the result is likely to be a devolution of much governance to more local levels, an inherently democratic development, but fraught with challenges.

louploup

Posted Wed, Jul 31, 4:58 p.m. Inappropriate

We have seen the likes of Murray before. He was called Greg Nickles. And that's more like what he will be if he makes it that far. Follow the money, and who is working on his campaign...

Marksp

Posted Thu, Aug 1, 3:37 p.m. Inappropriate

The one reason I can't get excited for Murray is...he doesn't seem excited. I still don't know why he is running for Mayor. I don't feel like he's really a neighborhood guy (and I believe that is important for our city to maintain a quality of life).

Obama showed you really need to care about a candidate to consider voting for him or her.

westello

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