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Ed Murray lands endorsement of Seattle’s neighborhood superhero

Steinbrueck speaking to supporters after hearing the primary results Credit: Photo: Ashley Walls

Mayoral candidate Ed Murray is taking a page out of Abe Lincoln's playbook —no, make that Doris Kearns Goodwin's book about Lincoln's cabinet — in forging a "team of rivals" to win the campaign. Murray had already been endorsed by former primary opponents Tim Burgess, Bruce Harrell, and on Thursday received an enthusiastic nod from Peter Steinbrueck.

All are likely to play major roles in the success or failure of a Murray administration, should one come to pass. Burgess and Harrell are on the city council — with Burgess speculated either to become council president or possibly take a position in the new administration. Harrell will play an important council role having burnished his image and raised his profile during the campaign. Murray would likely have strong council collaboration, something notably lacking during the Mike McGinn years. He's received the endorsement of five of nine council members. McGinn has joked that the council is trying to pick the mayor like the College of Cardinals picks the pope.

Former council member Steinbrueck could play an unspecified role in a Murray administration — Murray says he's not yet hiring. "I don't even have a job myself yet," he said to laughter during Steinbrueck's endorsement. Still, Steinbrueck has been advising Murray for weeks and has helped shape some key policy initiatives that were unveiled at a morning endorsement event at Cloud City Coffee in Maple Leaf.

At that press conference, Steinbrueck said his support for Murray rests on a three-legged stool: the candidate's positions of neighborhoods, industrial and maritime policy, and fixing the city's gender-pay disparities,

The first two in particular were issues Steinbrueck embraced during his campaign, and the latter reflects the fact that Steinbrueck had strong support from women and it was a woman who pushed him to make an endorsement. That woman was his 83-year-old mother, Elaine, who, two days ago advised her son to get behind Murray now.

Murray issued two policy papers at the event, one on "Neighborhoods" and the other an "Agenda for Industrial Growth." In both, Steinbrueck's hand can be seen, advocating for the protection and enhancement of the city's key industrial, marine and manufacturing areas, especially SoDo and Ballard. A SoDo basketball arena opponent, Steinbrueck made this issue a signature part of the race. Murray reiterated that he supports the arena in SoDo and doesn't think an arena need be incompatible with industry. Still, he says he sensitive to the challenges of making it work.

Murray wants to meet with marine and industrial stakeholders — envisioning a Mayor's Maritime and Industrial Council — and make addressing freight mobility a part of his first 100 days in office. He also wants to improve relations between the city and Port of Seattle. The Port, for example, is very unhappy with the city's Arena environmental impact statement and has told Mayor McGinn to go back to the drawing board. Murray has been saying he wants a plan for the city's industrial zones that is every bit as focused as the plans executed for South Lake Union. He also wants to cultivate new manufacturing-retail-and-start-up businesses that are compatible in these zones. And he suggests tying STEM education programs to new industrial-sector jobs.

As Steinbrueck stood before media and Murray supporters, he waved a copy of the city's Comprehensive Plan — not easy to do, it's a big document — to emphasize the need for better neighborhood planning. Steinbrueck believes the existing Comp Plan, which needs to be updated in 2015, has been ignored, and that the city has become too top-down in telling neighborhoods how to deal with growth and other issues, ignoring much of the input neighborhoods had in developing the plan as it stands. This critique was a cornerstone of his primary campaign.

Murray says he think the Department of Neighborhoods has atrophied in recent years, and his plan call for boosting the department's staffing and programs (like the Neighborhood Matching Fund) and considering "relocating [the] Planning Commission and comprehensive planning functions" into the department. Both McGinn and former Mayor Greg Nickels have been criticized for not taking the neighborhoods seriously enough. Murray says he understands complaints about inclusive and often sluggish Seattle's process, but said it's worse to have no process at all — such as soliciting neighborhood plans, then shelving them all. Murray's policy outline also derides "cookie-cutter town halls" in the absence of real outreach, an apparent swipe at the mayor's approach. In typical Murray style, he calls for a Neighborhood Summit within the first 100 days. 

The policy statements do contain specific ideas and details, some of which will be familiar to those who've listen to Steinbrueck on these issues over the years. Murray says that while they've discussed no specific jobs for the future, he wants to have Steinbrueck "as part of my team" and says that Steinbrueck has been schooling him on the fine details of zoning. For his part, Steinbrueck acknowledges McGinn's dedication, but, donning an "Ed Murray" button tells candidate Murray that he's "super excited to see you as our next mayor." Part of that excitement undoubtedly comes from former rivals being able to see a bit of themselves in Ed Murray's "inclusive" approach and policies.

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