Happening now: Mike McGinn “town hall” at High Point Library

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.”

13 Replies to "Happening now: Mike McGinn "town hall" at High Point Library"

  • Michael September 23, 2009 (5:10 pm)

    Can somebody ask him some hard questions about exactly how he’s going to accomplish all his pie-in-the-sky promises?
    No viaduct replacement (good luck getting around, West Seattle!), more transit, extended bar and transit hours…there’s a lot of pandering to young voters but the details are so sketchy…well, if I could stand Mallahan I’d vote for him.
    Thanks again, irrationally angry anti-Nickels folks! You’ve left us with these two, now you’re gonna have to live with one of them (probably McGinn – there goes the salt you were hoping for in the next snowstorm!).

  • westseattledood September 23, 2009 (5:23 pm)

    Michael –

    show up tonight at HPAC’s 7:00 PM candidate forum and ask the man yourself. Plus, you will have a fair number of Council candidates to interrogate too.

  • AceMotel September 23, 2009 (5:43 pm)


    McGinn wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in H*** if he were running against a real candidate. It scares me to think of this man as our mayor. Anyone can talk. What’s more important is the history of leadership, analysis and action. Does he have the ability to understand, synthesize and organize? In this case, it doesn’t look good.

  • WSM September 23, 2009 (5:48 pm)

    I’d like to know how he plans to handle the crippling gridlock in West Seattle if he tears the viaduct down and prevents the tunnel from being constructed? We got a taste of how bad it could be after the last big earthquake. The backup started at the Morgan Junction and it took some folks 3 hours to get downtown.

    Perhaps 4 years of this clown would motivate Seattle to elect more common sense leaders instead of what we have right now.

  • wseye September 23, 2009 (7:00 pm)

    I’m afraid that Mike McGinn is a naive dreamer, and doesn’t have a clue about physical reality. He wants to tear down the viaduct and have us change our behavior so we can adequately use the four north-south surface streets through SODO. If we BELIEVE we can do it, physical reality won’t matter. Thanks for sharing that with us, Mike.

  • Fred September 23, 2009 (10:21 pm)

    I like Mike. He has a transportation vision that will serve Seattle neighborhoods very well, and his stance regarding great schools is refreshing and on-target. He’s thinking around the corner in ways that Nickels’ supporters never did, and that Mallahan now does not. We don’t want to be paved with ossified ideas and have our potholes filled too… we want better systems built to support a high quality of life in a great city. We need to make major changes in how Seattle operates.

  • Meghan September 24, 2009 (8:02 am)

    I like Mike’s stand on environmental issues and adding more light rail. But his stance on the tunnel is not only naive; it’s downright dangerous to West Seattle’s future. Not only would he be single-handedly un-doing a huge transportation deal that took over 20 years to negotiate; he would make Seattle a laughing stock of the nation, destroy our bond rating, and cut off the people of West Seattle (destroying our property values in the process). My mother, who plans to sell her W. Seattle house and retire on the proceeds in 3 years, is literally worried on a daily basis that Mike McGinn will ruin her retirement plans due to his plan to kill the tunnel. She deserves better than this. Joe Mallahan needs to call this out on a daily basis.

  • Fred September 24, 2009 (10:17 pm)

    Check this out Meghan – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/24/AR2009092402602.html?hpid=topnews

    The tunnel doesn’t matter. There are bigger issues we need to plan for as soon as we can.

  • Melissa September 25, 2009 (12:30 am)

    No Fred, you are wrong. Climate change is extremely important but we are not going to turn the clock back 100 years so get real about how to live in a modern world. That does NOT mean that everyone in America will suddenly give up their cars. Some of us have real jobs that require us to be showered and clean when we go to work. As I told Mr. McGinn directly, I don’t want to hear a damn word from anyone telling me to ride the bus until I can leave my office downtown late at night and wait for a bus without risking my life. I could even live with riding along with the horrible smelling street people if I didn’t have to risk death while waiting for the bus to finally appear. And I don’t want to hear that I should bike in unless the city wants to provide me with a place to get clean & dressed like a professional without paying 100s a month to belong to a ridiculous gym in downtown. Now, when and if those changes are made, then we can talk about alternatives to driving in, but no one is talking about that because that’s just too practical a consideration for Seattle voters. The simple fact is that most of us live in and earn our income from living in the world as it exists now and most of us try to do what we can to prevent climate change & make the world a better place. But that doesn’t mean we have to risk our lives or spend more than we make just to get to work.

  • Fred September 25, 2009 (6:31 am)

    I hope the climate scientists are wrong, I wish they were. Many people want to believe they are wrong or they made a mistake, because if the scientific consensus is true and their projections play out, it means we have to make big changes fast or suffer severely. Willful ignorance of that threat imperils us, endangers our future, threatens the well-being of our kids.

    The concerns you express don’t acknowledge the problem in any way and you point instead to safety concerns, something that local opinion polls recently indicated is the top strategic concern for local citizens. Your focusing on that issue in trivial ways makes me wonder if you’re a tag-teaming hack, shilling for Mallahan, using poll data as your guide to talk up popular points. You probably didn’t even read the article I posted. For my part, I’m just a local with real concerns, and have no connection to McGinn’s campaign apart from really liking his sense of direction and his ideas.

  • nervous September 25, 2009 (4:26 pm)

    Meghan couldn’t agree more! I like him also- but his stance on the tunnel scares me….I think its a calculated move just to differntiate himself? Since the talk of the tunnel has been going on for some time, does anyone know if he was against it, BEFORE they decided to go ahead and do it? On the other hand, I guess it doens’t matter. As long as he’s against the tunnel. Vote MALLAHAN!!

  • Mickymse September 25, 2009 (5:04 pm)

    Folks up above are aware that 1/5 of the existing traffic on the Viaduct is going from West Seattle/Burien/WhiteCenter into Downtown… and NONE of that traffic will be able to use the tunnel, right?

  • yo September 30, 2009 (12:48 pm)

    Mickymse –

    Folks up above are aware that 1/5 of the existing traffic on the Viaduct is going from West Seattle/Burien/WhiteCenter into Downtown… and NONE of that traffic will be able to use the tunnel, right?

    The tunnel, as far as I know, is supposed to emerge around mercer and aurora ave. Currently, it’s faster for me to get to work (any traffic condition, day or night) if I drive the viaduct, take the Western exit, drive up to Mercer then head south on 5th AVE to get to work near Westlake than it is to drive up 4th or 1st AVE. So your statement isn’t necessarily true.

Sorry, comment time is over.