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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 1, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Elections: Do mayoral candidates have what it takes?

Dig deeper in coverage of mayor’s race

Editor, The Times:

The all-too-predictable coverage of our candidates for mayor and primary opponents, Mike McGinn and Joe Mallahan, by The Seattle Times and other media outlets is very disappointing.

The majority of the coverage ignores the specific ideas from each candidate and paints them as an environmentalist lawyer determined to stop the tunnel — McGinn — and a T-Mobile executive who wants to simply restore efficient government services — Mallahan.

Neither depiction is false, but the coverage rarely digs deeper. Let me give it a try.

I know Mallahan, for example, wants to leverage funds to expand units for low-income families. I know he wants to eliminate the head tax for small businesses, reduce consultant contracts by 25 percent to yield tens of millions in savings for the city. He wants to expedite hiring of police officers to save millions more and help protect he city. I know he wants to fully reinstate and expand the gang unit, eliminate the Mercer Street Project and ensure wealthy developers bear more of the cost burden.

I know McGinn is interested in funding a private-public partnership to create Seattle High School scholarships; he wants to build a citywide fiber-optic network for Internet use; he wants to focus on Metro’s plans for Rapid Ride lines and an electric-trolley bus system that potentially will improve traffic dramatically, and at a fraction of the cost of light rail.

How do I know this? Because I’ve participated at events for both McGinn and Mallahan, asked them questions personally, and I have actually taken the time to read their Web sites in depth, where their ideas are laid out. Have you?

Even The Times’ own profiles of both candidates focus less on these ideas and issues and more on surface stuff like their personalities, families and background.

Let’s dig deeper. I encourage The Times and all media outlets to really press McGinn and Mallahan on how they will achieve some of the ideas I’ve laid out above — taken directly from their Web sites — in order for the city to make the best, most-informed choice this November.

— Paul West, Seattle

New mayor will need leadership, not government, experience

I am tired of hearing that the new mayor will spend the first six months looking for a coffee shop and the bathroom.

Your assumption that it takes “government experience” to lead is wrong [“Voters’ message is clear: Show us something new,” Opinion, editorial, Aug. 23]. It takes “leadership experience” to lead. Maybe we have a patriot stepping up to lead us.

I’m a disappointed voter, not a “cranky voter.”

— Thomas P. Wise, Seattle

Unions endorse, but do they know what they’re doing?

All the big unions in Seattle endorsed the incumbent for mayor in the primary election. Mayor Greg Nickels lost and so did the unions. There is a good reason why Seattle politicians go after the union endorsement.

Seattle is one of the few cities left in the country with a union density higher than the national average.

Yet Seattle unions are sticking to the old dogs. Now that their favorite lost the primary, they are running around their halls trying to figure out whom to endorse now. Sticking to the old politicians only reinforces the negative perception most people have of unions: that they are corrupt, outdated and embedded in a romanticized past that barely resembles their present, much less their future.

This should be the question unions should ask of themselves: What about our future? Their future is not in endorsing politicians that play lip service to favoring unions. A politician who creates union jobs yet does nothing while the cost of living increases on those same workers, who does nothing as expensive condominiums replace less expensive apartments, who stands by as the homeless wither in our streets, is not a friend of working people and should not be a friend of the unions.

— Russell B. Jacobs, Seattle

Message to Seattle pols: Don’t mess with voters

The long-held view that Seattle voters simply refuse to get tough with their elective officials, no matter how much they dislike them or disagree with their policies, has finally been consigned to dustbin status.

Last week’s primary results sent a resounding message to local officeholders — voters do pay attention to your words and deeds, and if you screw up or ignore their wishes, there are electoral consequences.

Soon-to-be former Mayor Greg Nickels both screwed up (snowstorm response) and defied Seattle’s wishes (waterfront tunnel). As a result, voters unceremoniously gave him the boot while humiliating his political clones, Jan Drago and Jordan Royer, in the process.

Now watch Seattle’s political and economic establishment, which sorely wants the tunnel, close ranks behind the pro-tunnel candidate, Joe Mallahan. It is normal for the establishment-backed candidate for mayor to win handily like Paul Schell in 1997 and Nickels in 2005.

But Mike McGinn’s first-place primary finish proves tunnel opposition still resonates among voters who had overwhelmingly rejected the tunnel option in their 2007 advisory vote.

Candidates who run against the will of Seattle’s voters — at long last — will do so at their own peril.

— Russell Scheidelman, Seattle

Comments | More in Election, Local ballot measures, Politics, Seattle

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