1 PM: We’re at the Senior Center of West Seattle, where the upstairs meeting hall is filled with people here to see and hear the two men vying to run Seattle for the next four years, Mayor Mike McGinn and State Sen. Ed Murray. This is expected to last an hour; we will be updating here live. We also are rolling video, so if all works out, we’ll be able to add that to this later. (ADDED 3:32 PM: Here it is, in its entirety, starting with the center’s executive director Karen Sisson and moderator Lucy Gaskill-Gaddis:)
1:05 PM: Five-minute opening remarks from each candidate, starting with McGinn. He goes through introductory comments – why he ran four years ago, how he took off in the “deepest economic recession since the Great Depression.” He contends Seattle has the “fastest-growing urban economy in the nation.” After listing a few other things, he reiterates, “We DO have economic growth.” He says they made a promise to neighborhoods like West Seattle that have been “accepting growth,” promises not yet kept, such as how transportation and other infrastructure will be handled. He mentions that Sound Transit (whose board he’s on) is studying getting light rail to West Seattle. He says, “I want to invest in all our neighborhoods,” including making it “safe to walk.” His 5 minutes are up.
1:11 PM: Now, Murray’s introduction. He gets quickly to his West Seattle roots, including his time at Holy Rosary School, and how he doorbelled with his mom when he was five “for John Kennedy for president.” He says “West Seattle is a special place,” and promises it “won’t be an afterthought” if he is elected. Moving on to his legislative work, he says he is working with seniors’ best interest in mind – he talks about regulation for home-health-care workers. As for why he’s running for mayor, he touts himself as “bring(ing) people together … I think Seattle is craving leadership that is willing to sit people down at a table” to find solutions “not just ideologically based, but (to) move us forward as a city.” Then: “This is a city that has a public safety problem … a transportation problem .. that cannot be blamed on the Legislature alone …” He mentions Tatsuo Nakata (not by name)’s death at the 47th/Admiral crosswalk in 2006, and accuses McGinn of “resistance” to the long-sought-after crosswalk there. The mayor says “That’s false.” (Here’s what happened: He had proposed money for a beacon and to study a traffic signal there; the City Council then upgraded that to full funding of a signal.)
1:15 PM: Now to Q/A. Audience members have filled out cards with questions. First one read by moderator Lucy Gaskill Gaddis: Transportation problems and density with many apartments on the way and Metro facing more cuts. “What practical solution do you advocate” to those, she asks. Murray first: “We’re going to have to create a high-tech war room of (many jurisdictions’) officials” to make sure that traffic can move through. He says he’s feeling “positive” about a transportation solution in the Legislature. He says “you can’t starve cars without transit to replace it.” Next, McGinn – he starts with an attempt at correcting Murray regarding the 47th/Admiral light, and touts current paving projects that are under way such as Delridge. Then: “This tunnel project … isn’t going to do that much for us in the long run.” Transit is the only way to solve things, he says. He says “a legislative session or something else” is needed to solve things. “Our local transit money is being held hostage to highway projects around the state.”
(EDITOR’S POST-DEBATE NOTE: Here’s our coverage of what happened re: the signal)
Murray rebuttal: “You can bash Olympia or you can choose to work with Olympia. Your senators (state) are not the reason transportation is not moving forward … What we’re missing is a partnership with the city of Seattle,” instead of bashing Olympia.
McGinn rebuttal: He says the legislature has “underfunded” many things. He addresses Murray directly: “You couldn’t keep control of the Senate, you couldn’t manage the budget … I’m not blaming everyone in Olympia … that was your job to keep the majority.”
1:24 PM: New question: What role do communities and social issues play in land use policy and development? First McGinn: Affordability is important. He says he’s appointed a stakeholder committee that’s drawing up a report. “If you ask for too much, (developers) won’t use the incentives to build affordable housing.” He gets quickly to the Whole Foods/4755 Fauntleroy Way SW alley-vacation opposition and why he thinks that wages are important.
Murray: He says he supports the concept of what the mayor did but “not how (he) did it” – after sighing, “The attacks go on.” He also responds to something McGinn said earlier regarding accountability and goes on to point out city fraud – rather than replying to the question that the moderator had asked.
New question: Public safety, and what will they do about it? Murray first brings up the Justice Department/Seattle Police situation, going back to the beginning, and suggests that the city fought the feds and instead led to “years of a police force that was in turmoil… and remains in turmoil.” And: “We have to admit we have a problem … not all crime is down in all parts of the city … We have to move forward on public safety” and mentions a Junction business walkthrough and hearing from businesses: “The same thing I hear from downtown, the same concerns.”
McGinn: “I would love to have a discussion about the future … but Sen. Murray’s campaign has not been about the idea, it’s about saying I can’t get things done, I can’t work with people. … Let’s talk about crime. When I took office, we did in fact have a police department not trusted by the community.” He says he took action including bringing in a Community Police Commission. And he touts the announcement earlier today of 15 more officers to be added. He says Murray passed bills that put felons on the street without dealing with mental-health issues. Murray rebuttal: This year, we expanded social services bigger than anything since the Johnson Administration, and mentions a Medicaid expansion which will mean “mental health funding … for people on the streets.” And he talks about people being released because they are “not violent offenders” after being accused of having “too many people” behind bars … “we were able to close an entire juvenile facility because we could put them in programs with best practices.” McGinn rebuttal: “I was referring to Senate Bill 5891 … with respect to mental-health services … we do have a situation where this state is 50th in terms of mental-health beds available.” He says interim Police Chief Pugel testified about the situation in Olympia, and a bill is pending to eliminate a tax exemption for tourists, to use the money to spend on mental health – “But the business community objected, the same business community that’s funding his campaign.” He accuses Murray of “pretty neat trick” to vote to let felons out without voting for mental-health funding.
1:37 PM: New question: What will you do or have you done to preserve industrial job base? McGinn: Funding a freight master plan, working with the Port to mitigate traffic impacts … “When you cross the West Seattle Bridge, you’ll see the new Harley Marine building … we changed the rules for that …” to accommodate their headquarters. He says he is working on job training because he hears from industrial firms that they need qualified people. “We’re fortunate to have multiple thriving sectors.”
Murray: “This city’s traditional industrial industry is a key part of the future of our economy … Preserving and growing that has not been a priority of this administration.” He says that both the SODO and Ballard industrial areas should be addressed with plans, and mentions the possible sports arena (which McGinn did not mention) could affect industry and that should be dealt with. He also mentions that Nucor’s predecessor, Bethehem Steel, is where his father worked. He says he would work with the Port to “design a brand-new industrial plan.” He then brings up the mayor’s claim about campaign funding: “(He) inferred my supporters are rich” and mentions supporters who are not. He says he’s “not trying to divide the city by saying ‘he’s the rich guy'” … “I’m not trying to divide this city.”
1:41 PM: Last question, budget priorities for the city? Murray: “Serious inventory of our infrastructure – not just the roads and streets, but also (utilities) …. when infrastructure fails, it’s the poor and elderly who get stuck. You can see it in New Orleans, you can see it back east … #2, public safety … #3, deal with the backlog of major maintenance … of crumbling sidewalks and streets … Then he mentions he’d like to see some of the talent from past administrations come back “so that our budget will be a sustainable budget and not a budget where you read about … fraud that was never addressed.” McGinn: “We discovered that fraud, removed that person …” And then he accuses Murray of not taking responsibility for an issue he had to deal with. “Our big challenge is that we are a growing city and not everyone gets to share in that prosperity … What we’re doing: #1, Early Learning Academy … working with the council on a plan for universal preschool … We’ve increased our spending on basic infrastructure 37% in the past (few) years even without new funding from the state … Transit Master Plan, working to get Sound Transit to the ballot by 2016 so our neighborhoods will get the transit they need … If the state won’t act (on transportation) we’ll figure out how to get the money we need.” He mentions again his roots as a neighborhood activist.
1:46 PM: Murray’s five minutes of closing remarks: He compliments the WS Senior Center for reaching out to LGBT seniors. “As I mentioned before, I have worked in Olympia for 18 years,” and he mentions that it took a long time for some things to get done, like the 17 years it took to pass marriage equality. “That’s what Olympia is like … you have to get people to the table…that’s why I want to be mayor … that’s the kind of leadership Seattle is craving.” He mentions he’s been endorsed by several City Councilmembers, “unusual when you have an incumbent who’s running.” He says West Seattle legislators have endorsed him as has County Councilmember Joe McDermott and the 34th District Democrats: “it’s good to be home in West Seattle … I want to work to bring this city together … I want to be a mayor who doesn’t spend two years fighting with the state over the viaduct.” He accuses McGinn of waiting four years to announce programs and says he will make announcements from the start. He says he grew up here as a “poor kid,” if “that kid from 61st Street would grow up to be the mayor of Seattle.”
1:50 PM: McGinn’s closing remarks – he says yes, Murray’s been a uniter, and rattles off corporation names. Then he says, yes, we all get contributions from all over the place. He says, “We’ve gotten a lot done … leading the nation in jobs … innovative new programs to hire local workers … doubled the Families and Education Levy … all of our libraries open on Sundays … rebuilding the Rainy Day Fund … and none of those things happened all by themselves … it took a team of people, the mayor and City Council .. to get them done … imagine what we can do if … I’ve been to ‘mayor’s school’. … I have made myself available, held myself accountable, passionate about this job, working to divest from fossil fuels, want universal preschool ….This city can be a leader demonstrating what it means to the world to live as a multicultural society … and other cities will look at us and say, ‘We want to be that city.’ … I would love to continue to be your mayor.”
1:53 PM: The forum is over and the two shake hands. A few minutes of mingling is promised for the standing-room only crowd. It was intense and lively and pointed; our words cannot quite convey it as well as the video will, and we will upload it as soon as we get back to HQ.