Peter Steinbrueck decides

Will not run for Seattle mayor in '09. He chooses Harvard over City Hall.
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Former Seattle City Council member Peter Steinbrueck. (Seattle Channel)

Will not run for Seattle mayor in '09. He chooses Harvard over City Hall.

"No more waiting for Peter Godot," says Peter Steinbrueck. The former city councilmember has made up his mind about the mayor's race. He's not running "this time around."

Instead, Steinbreuck will be heading to Harvard for the 2009-10 academic year (September-May) as a Loeb Fellow, a prestigious international fellowship program at the university's Graduate School of Design. He'll be one of nine fellows.

Steinbrueck says he was sorely tempted to run for mayor and probably would have had he not been offered this fellowship. He sees the chance to take classes anywhere at Harvard and the opportunity to lecture there as a chance to advance his thinking on public policy for the long term. His family will remain in Seattle, though one of his sons may move back with him for the year.

His self-designed course of study for the year is "Politics, Planning and Best Practice for Advancing Urban Sustainability." He's not sure a book will result from his work, but it might. Steinbrueck has been a urban planning and sustainability consultant since leaving the City Council and has been speaking widely on the topic. As an architect and public official, he's been looking for ways to expand his knowledge about creating livable cities. He hopes the year at Harvard will give him some new and refined thinking he can apply in his hometown when he returns.

He did not close the door on a future run for mayor and says that there's still time for others to get into the race. He hopes his making a decision might nudge others to jump in.

Here's the official news release:

Seattle, WA 'ꀔ Former Seattle City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck, FAIA will spend a year in Cambridge as a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University'ꀙs Graduate School of Design beginning September 2009. The fellowship year at Harvard will provide Steinbrueck the opportunity for concentrated research on U.S. urban policy and global environmental challenges at the national level.

On receiving the Fellowship, Steinbrueck said, 'ꀜThrough this Fellowship, my challenge will be to study the politics, principles and best practices of sustainability, and then to examine how to advance these strategies in U.S. cities for global impact.'ꀝ He added, 'ꀜWe'ꀙre entering a new era. It will require extraordinary political leadership to bring about the changes we know are necessary. I look forward to bringing back to Seattle the knowledge I will gain from this experience to help strengthen Seattle and region.'ꀜ

Lisa Richmond, Executive Director of AIA Seattle, nominated Steinbrueck for the Loeb fellowship. Richmond, herself a Loeb Fellow, said of the announcement, "Peter's work in Seattle, developing policy to promote sustainable communities, is ground-breaking, and deserves this national stage. During his time at Harvard, he will have a unique chance to share Seattle's leadership on urban and environmental issues with a national audience, and in turn bring back fresh inspiration to guide our city's future."

After retiring from the Seattle City Council in 2007, Steinbrueck had several choices as to where to put his efforts toward influencing progressive public policy . While Steinbrueck has been encouraged over the past year to consider a run for Mayor, after much careful consideration he decided the year of study at Harvard was the best choice for the long term. 'ꀜI have been honored by those who have considered me a worthy candidate for Mayor and deeply appreciate the support I have received from the community'ꀝ, said Steinbrueck. 'ꀜAs we approach Earth Day, I am thrilled about the opportunity through the Loeb Fellowship to continue my work to improve our quality of life and the environment in Seattle and around the nation."

The Loeb Fellowship, founded in 1970, is a unique opportunity internationally that provides a year of independent study at Harvard for outstanding mid-career professionals in fields related to the built and natural environment. Recipients are given full access to the many programs and schools of Harvard University including the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Design, Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, the Kennedy School of Government, and M.I.T. Primarily the focus is on architects, landscape architects, urban planners, and urban designers, but also professionals participate from related fields such as filmmaking, journalism, non-profit administration, the arts, and government service. For more information about the Loeb Fellowship, go to

Steinbrueck, an architect, is principal of Steinbrueck Urban Strategies, LLC and a Board Member of AIA Seattle. He served 10 years on the Seattle City Council from 1997 'ꀓ 2007, and was Council President in 2001-2003. In 1999 he received the Young Architect Award from the American Institute of Architects, in 2002 the Public Sector Achievement Award from the National Alliance to End Homelessness and he was inducted into the AIA College of Fellows in 2006. In 2006, Seattle Magazine named him among Seattle'ꀙs 'ꀜMost Influential'ꀝ people.


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Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.