We’re at High Point Library, where mayoral candidate Mike McGinn has just arrived for his first West Seattle “town hall” meeting. He’s also expected at the Highland Park Action Committee candidate forum at 7 pm tonight (opponent Joe Mallahan had not RSVP’d for that as of last report). He just opened by saying he’s not here to give a speech but to listen and answer questions. We’ll add some notes based on what he says – and what he’s asked. About two dozen people are here.
4:45 PM UPDATE: Pete Spalding from Pigeon Point asked the first question – what would McGinn do to help small businesses survive and thrive? McGinn said he supports raising the B&O tax exemption and making it easier to get permits – also doing more outreach, particularly to small businesspeople from what he described as “other cultures” who might have a hard time understanding the process.
(Post-forum note – After the jump, you can read the rest of our as-it-happened coverage)
4:52 PM UPDATE: McGinn veered from a question about City Light problems and Mayor Nickels’ proposed partial-park-gun-ban policy into his neighborhood policy. He then circled back around to say that he supports the proposal. He criticized current city leadership for taking too long to revisit neighborhood planning and said that not only did the plans get stale, but the “sense of community activism” might have gotten stale because it went unrewarded.
5:00 PM UPDATE: A woman urged him to oppose elephant-keeping at Woodland Park Zoo. He agreed it’s a tough issue and said, “I’ll look into it.” Next question, the homeless encampment that calls itself “Nickelsville” (now at T-107 Park in West Seattle but under orders to leave by month’s end) – the question, why can’t the city find a permanent place for its residents? McGinn told the questioner, “I’m with you … I think we need to find something more permanent.” He added, that doesn’t necessarily mean tents – it may be “adding to our (low-income) housing stock.”
5:10 PM UPDATE: Asked by Calvary Chapel pastor Randy Leskovar about the graffiti problem, McGinn said he understands the city’s Graffiti Rangers program works OK for public-property graffiti – but regarding private property, he “doesn’t have a good answer” and “doesn’t have a policy.” He segued into saying that the city “let its guard down” regarding youth violence/crime. He says programs must be supported and more youth employment programs would be important. Meantime, someone worried about transportation asked if McGinn would be able to work with Susan Hutchison despite their differences if she is elected as King County Executive. “I hope so,” he said, and changed the subject.
5:20 PM UPDATE: McGinn continued talking about transportation – particularly his light-rail plan which he said could bring light rail to West Seattle a lot sooner than a “Sound Transit 3” measure would. “Cars aren’t going away,” he cautioned, but he sees a light rail plan with no new rights of way, no new agency, using existing city taxing authority. Next question, how to make Seattle Public Schools better? Collaborate with the district, McGinn begins; explore shared facilities to reduce costs, he continues; and “we should look at our willingness to support … early childhood education” among other programs. He also says going to Olympia and being an advocate for schools could help.
5:43 PM UPDATE: McGinn’s Town Hall has wrapped up. Considerable discussion about transportation dominated the final minutes. He still supports a “surface option” for replacing The Viaduct. He clarified that he is not opposed to the King County Water Taxi, but had been asked at one point whether the city could take it over, which he says he doesn’t think is possible. He was asked again regarding his light-rail plan that could include service to West Seattle, and reiterated he’s not going to “draw lines on a map” right now but is committed to bringing a proposal to a vote within 2 years. “What would the system look like? Let’s do the plan.” He says planning would have to answer questions about waterways and hills. A side conversation comes up regarding the Alaskan Way Viaduct/tunnel plan and working group members Pete Spalding and Vlad Oustimovitch mention that all the current plans are online. Meantime, McGinn was asked what his administration might look like, is there anyone in particular he thinks is doing a good job – McGinn says, “I’m reluctant to talk about existing people” but says there are some who are doing good work in city government. The questioner clarifies he’s wondering about any former department heads McGinn might hire – in addition to who he’d keep – and, when asked by McGinn, “Well, who do YOU like?” the questioner mentions he thinks the City Light boss is doing a good job. What about police chief? asks another attendee, wondering which past police chief the future chief might be like. McGinn: “I think Norm Stamper and Gil Kerlikowske brought a lot to the job … this is really challenging.”