At a campaign event Thursday, state Sen. Ed Murray pledged to make Seattle a “model for the rest of the nation” in human services if he is elected mayor.
It was one of his first major appearances of the general-election campaign, and Murray took the opportunity to blame Mayor Mike McGinn for increasing domestic violence, rents, crime downtown, family homelessness and heavy turnover in the city’s Human Services Department.
He was flanked by Seattle City Councilmembers Sally Clark and Tom Rasmussen, two of three councilmembers — along with Tim Burgess — who have endorsed Murray.
McGinn speaks often about his work to preserve human-services funding in the city budget during his term, and, like Murray, he has many human-services advocates who support him. But Murray said the mayor has failed to lead, leaving the Human Services Department unstable and the public more vulnerable than before.
“We desperately need new leadership,” Murray said during a news conference at his Capitol Hill campaign headquarters.
He laid out a plan, getting as specific as he ever has about what he would do as mayor.
Murray criticized the mayor’s handling of the city’s domestic-violence programs. In 2011, McGinn touched off a debate with the council when his new human-services director proposed eliminating the director of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention as part of a re-organization.
As mayor, Murray said he would focus on helping homeless youth and families, and seek housing for people with dogs and partners, who often can’t find shelter space now.
He also would make the needs of senior citizens a priority, planning for better sidewalks and buses that are easier to get onto.
“This seems very light on specifics and very heavy on poll-tested language,” said McGinn’s campaign consultant, John Wyble. He said the mayor has a good human-services record.
Rasmussen and Clark said the mayor has failed to lead and been difficult to work with. Rasmussen said McGinn has put out fires but never cast real vision for human services.
“McGinn has not really been proactive,” he said. “He’s not being an effective leader … He waits for a crisis to occur and then he tries to jump out and solve it.”