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Seattle's Confusing Mayoral Race

I'm as confused as I can ever remember being about who I'm going to vote for in several of the Seattle races, most significantly the race for mayor.  The County Exec race, the Port races, the statewide ballot issues are all pretty easy: Dow, Rob Holland, Max Vekich - probably, No on 1033.  Approve 71.  All important - but pretty straight-forward.  But several of the Seattle races are toss-ups for me still.  Many others I talk with appear to be in the same position. 

Joe Mallahan.jpgThe hardest is the mayoral race.  I keep going back and forth between Mallahan and McGinn.   David Horsey has a great piece in the PI that nails a similar take.  Here's the nub of the piece:

Mallahan just might learn on the job and be able to turn his good intentions into a competent administration. On the other hand, he might be in way over his head and will leave office as befuddled as he sometimes appears to be now. McGinn, with his forceful personality and clear agenda could prove to be a transformative leader, or he could spend four years locked in a holy war with state legislators, city council members and the business community and accomplish nothing.
I'm fairly clear on my criteria.  Once candidates pass on a minimum of the required basic progressive issue stands, I look for clues about how candidates would manage staff, interact with stakeholders, pull people together behind common agendas and then articulate that direction to the public.  I want to know how they react to the unexpected, how they make use of it to advance their longer term goals.  I want to know if they learn as they go along.  

That brings me to Mallahan.  I had started off just assuming I'd be for Mallahan because of McGinn's reputation as a bomb-thrower and the utter frustration and anger that stopping the tunnel would engender.   But I find myself liking McGinn more and more at the forums I've been to. 

I'm frustrated with Mallahan because he's not getting better as he goes along.  At the basic level, he's not learning to present his ideas any better.  Sheesh!  Hire a presentation coach.  What I don't like is my suspicion that he hasn't thought his ideas through well and, at bottom, isn't fully committed to the job - in this case, the job of being a candidate.  

Photo of Mike McGinn copyright by Jeff RomeoMcGinn, on the other hand, is getting better at presenting himself.  A McGinn backer I know says he's out talking with people in small groups as well as large ones, day in and day out.  It shows.  As the campaign goes alonge, he comes across as more conciliatory; he talks about more than the tunnel.  He's learning more about what the mayor does and doesn't do.  No, the mayor doesn't run the schools but the city can have a big impact on helping schools and students succeed.  He's not making the same mistakes over and over.  I like his campaign, like that it is very low-money but very effective.

However, another friend tells me he is being told in no uncertain terms that he will be shunned by labor and business alike if he goes public for support for McGinn.  There is a lot of opposition.

Vancouver BC has a very non-conventional mayor, Gregor Robertson, who was opposed by the establishment, elected last November.  Robertson appears to be moving the city in a very green direction at a speed that would surprise most and appears to be bringing the majority of residents with him.  If I thought McGinn had that ability to bring folks along with him toward his vision of a greener city, I'd not question his candidacy.  But, like Horsey, it is just not clear enough to me that he has that transformational ability.  

I have a feeling I'll be wondering about that one up until the last minute.  And you?

Upcoming Town Halls

The more I think about it, the more important it seems to me that we each get to a healthcare-themed Town Hall - both to encourage our Congressfolk to robustly support the public option and to begin to understand this phenomenon that has struck our public discourse.  And, as Howard Dean said, turned it into a shouting match.  My observation of Republicans is that they don't turn away from tactics that they deem successful no matter what.  So, I'm afraid we are in for a few years of nastiness.  I think we'd better begin to learn how to address the real needs of the people willing to shout out their fears and concerns in this way.  And learn to understand the difference between people with real issues, no matter how misguided and ignorant we think they are, and those who are faking it.

Here are the next set of Town Halls.  I'm going to try to make one or two, even though they aren't in my district.

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09)

First is tomorrow evening (Tuesday, Aug. 25) with Adam Smith (WA-09) in Lakewood. If you plan to attend, please call Smith's office (253) 593-6600.  Organizing for America would also like to know if you are planning on attending.

Harry Lang Stadium
6615 111th St. SW
Lakewood, WA 98499

When: Tuesday, August 25th
Arrival Time: 5:00 p.m.
Start Time: 7:00 p.m.

Congressman Jay Inslee (WA-01)
Jay Inslee.jpg
Next up is a couple in Jay Inslee's district (WA-01) on this coming Saturday, Aug. 29, in Poulsbo and Sunday, Aug. 30, in Edmonds.  If you are planning on attending, please let his staff know at either or by phone at 206-361-0233.

Poulsbo town-hall meeting
11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 29, 2009
North Kitsap High School
The Gymnasium
1780 NE Hostmark St

Edmonds town-hall meeting
1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2009
Edmonds-Woodway High School
The Gymnasium
7600 212th St SW

P.S. I'd put up a photo of Adam Smith if he made it in any way easy to find one.


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