Mayoral candidates: Please forget the streetcar and biotech dreams

How about buses and a community college? Murray and McGinn court voters and praise diversity in Southeast Seattle. But are they asking what Seattle hardest-scrabble district really needs?
Murray's mailer, targeted to... Queen Anne?

Murray's mailer, targeted to... Queen Anne?

Mayoral candidates Mike McGinn and Ed Murray debate during the League of Women Voters/ Allied Arts Forum at the Cornish Playhouse on Sept. 30, 2013.

Mayoral candidates Mike McGinn and Ed Murray debate during the League of Women Voters/ Allied Arts Forum at the Cornish Playhouse on Sept. 30, 2013. Allyce Andrew

A curious piece of campaign mail arrived last week: A standard jumbo card proclaiming, “Southeast Seattle Leaders are United: Ed Murray for Mayor!” Below were endorsements from Rep. Eric Pettigrew, immigration advocate Pramila Jayapal, City Councilmember and ex-mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell, and (you didn’t know he was a Southeast Seattle leader?) City Attorney Pete Holmes. This message was addressed to myself “or current resident” at my old address on Queen Anne. I did not receive one at my current (and registered voting) address in Southeast Seattle. No doubt everyone else on Queen Anne will be gratified to learn about Murray’s Southeast Seattle support.

Still, there’s nothing strange about Murray and incumbent Mike McGinn courting support down there, as when McGinn launched his re-election campaign at the Filipino Community Center in January and Murray delivered a supposedly definitive (actually deflating) “vision” speech at the Columbia City Theatre last month. Last Sunday, Murray held another rally next door, at Tutta Bella.

Throughout his term, McGinn has been more visible in Southeast Seattle than any mayor since Norm Rice. He boasts of the 25 town hall sessions he’s held here, and in June he delivered a State of the Valley Address to the Rainier Chamber of Commerce, with no corresponding “State of the Bluff” for Magnolia.

In 2009, McGinn even established a campaign office at Othello Station, and the attention paid off; Southeast Seattle was a stronghold for him that November. But another factor roiled the results in this year’s primary, the mayoral bid by City Council member and Southeast native son Bruce Harrell.

As this Seattle Times map shows, most of the city’s other precincts went for McGinn or Murray in  a conspicuous economic and social pattern: McGinn dominated younger, faster-changing inland districts, often the the most bike-friendly ones: Ballard, Fremont, Greenwood, Wallingford, South Lake Union, South Capitol Hill, the Central Area, Georgetown, North Beacon, Delridge. Murray led in more affluent, established, view- and waterfront-rich neighborhoods such as Queen Anne, Magnolia, View Ridge, Laurelhurst, western West Seattle, Madison Park and the rest of the Gold Coast.

Southeast Seattle, by contrast, was a patchwork of precincts going for McGinn, particularly around gentrifying Columbia City, and Harrell, who dominated Rainier Beach and South Beacon Hill. Harrell has since endorsed Murray. Campaign strategists look at maps like that and see votes up for grabs. And so Southeast is a prime battleground, and a big piece of any scenario for another come-from-behind upset by McGinn.

Harvesting votes in neighborhoods with high immigrant, minority, and lower-income populations commonly means turning out the vote. McGinn’s team has the edge here, judging by campaign operations so far and the kind of ground game they deployed in 2009.

For all that they court the Southeast, however, it’s striking what McGinn and Murray don’t talk about down here. Both intone platitudes — sincerely, certainly, but also obligatory — about the importance of diversity and Southeast’s importance to Seattle because it is so diverse. Murray tries to establish some ethnic cred by recounting how he grew up in a big working-class Irish family. Both talk a lot about education, opportunity and public safety. Murray cites all the funding he got for these as a state senator. McGinn recounts how he boosted the Families and Education Levy, how he’s hiring more officers and the police are more accountable now (though the U.S. Justice Department had something to do with that), and how crime, especially homicides in Southeast Seattle, is way down, after an alarming rash of shootings early last year.

To say, as McGinn did in June, that they’ve declined “100 percent” defies reason and fact. And the claim that the police are getting a grip in Southeast is belied by the musical-chairs command at the South Precinct, which has its sixth captain in six years. The better-regarded the captains are, the shorter they seem to stay down south before the department bumps them up to some citywide command; the post is starting to seem like a waiting room.


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Comments:

Posted Thu, Oct 31, 10:33 a.m. Inappropriate

What? “State of the Bluff” for Magnolia? “State of the Bluff” for Magnolia?!!
Seriously?
The “State of the Bluff” for Magnolia is the lawns continue to be finely manicured.

rcpmac

Posted Thu, Oct 31, 1:25 p.m. Inappropriate

As a new resident of Magnolia, I must point out that that stereotype only applies to a portion of the neighborhood. Not everyone lives on Perkins Lane or Magnolia Boulevard! Come to the north or east side sometime.

Also, I think Eric was being sarcastic.

Posted Sat, Nov 2, 12:53 p.m. Inappropriate

And is there something wrong with living in one of those places? Hey, "progressives," I guess if we're going to be all Eastern and world-class, then we ought to do the Full Boston and hate each other based on which neighborhood we live in. That's the way it's been going under our East Coast mayor. Thank God we're going to toss that bicycle-loving, house-hating jerk out of here.

NotFan

Posted Sat, Nov 2, 12:50 p.m. Inappropriate

So a well-tended yard is now a point of "progressive" Seattle resentment, I see. Where do you live? I have some debris to get rid of. If it'll would make you feel more urban, I'd be glad to drop it off.

NotFan

Posted Thu, Oct 31, 8:28 p.m. Inappropriate

I voted for MAYOR MIKE MCGINN th first day I received the ballot . I feel the Mayor Had done a good job overall.
There were one or 2 incidents that happened beyond his control. He has a good eye on city issues.

Murray onnthe other hand is an Olympia politician, without the down to earth knowledge of how all the City Departments work. In his legislative tenure the Transportation Bill did not get passed . You cannot run the city like the Legislature.

Lenny

Posted Fri, Nov 1, 8:35 a.m. Inappropriate

A community college in that area is a pretty good idea, and I like the idea of trying to spur improvement in a neighborhood through education rather than real estate development or shopping malls. A college within walking distance or easy transit distance and with available child care would be a huge step in moving people into better paying jobs and self-sufficiency.

talisker

Posted Fri, Nov 1, 12:44 p.m. Inappropriate

The community is actively tryng to get a community college branch in the Rainier Beach area. All the candidates need do is listen. In fact, shame on McGinn because his own city staff know precisely what is happening. That Clark on council is more aware of the planning activity and ongoing organization that came out of it than the Mayor is appalling. This was not insignificant, it was one of a very few Action Plans undertaken by DON, DPD and other departments under McGinn.

Posted Sat, Nov 2, 8:24 a.m. Inappropriate

You make some good points about what the locals need, but you leave out public safety. I like to visit and shop in places like Columbia City, MLK Way holds no terrors for me, but Rainier Beach feels scared and dangerous, and there's a steady stream of drive-by shootings to prove it. If things calmed down and got safer, it would benefit the locals and help attract more business -- nobody wants to open a cafe in a war zone.

DannyK

Posted Sat, Nov 2, 7:38 p.m. Inappropriate

One could almost conclude that district elections are needed to give the Valley an effective voice, but I doubt that would do it. Light rail was routed down the Valley, at insistence of Norm Rice and Martha Choe, because of the promise of economic development. It's another example of how rail is so overhyped that we think the development will follow automatically. That's magical thinking. The one real hope I can see is if the Hispanic community really gets organized politically.

Posted Tue, Nov 5, 8:51 a.m. Inappropriate

Eric I disagree with your perspective on the development that occurs as a natural progression following major public works and beautification projects. Having lived for a short time in Lake Worth, Florida I witnessed first hand the results of their public works project to enhance their downtown commercial core. New sidewalks, street paving, landscaping, lighting, new sewer and water lines all gave a fresh look to blocks of rather tired looking buildings many vacant. These public improvements had already occurred two years prior to my residency there but even in the 18 months that I lived there new businesses moved in and the renewed economic viability was visible. In speaking with an old neighbor who still lives there the downtown is booming with activity and it has revitalized the surrounding residential areas. Young families have moved in and remolded many of the decaying homes. But it did not happen overnight. Are you familiar with the removal of the Embarcadaro in San Francisco? I suspect if there is further commitment to public improvements in the south end that we will see renewed interest in development and new businesses.

I would agree that a community college would be an excellent addition having lived in tat end of town but if you build infrastructure the development and re=develpment falls into place. Be patient, in my last fdrive down there things ahve already improved.

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