Leaders of Seattle’s nightlife industry, many of whom backed Mike McGinn in his successful bid for mayor in 2009, today threw their support to his challenger, Sen. Ed Murray, saying Murray would be a more effective mayor.
About 10 nightclub and restaurant owners joined Murray at an afternoon press conference at The Crocodile in the Belltown neighborhood to recount Murray’s efforts to support restaurants and clubs in his Capitol Hill district over the past 18 years and the successful repeal of a dance tax last session that threatened to saddle many clubs and dance venues with high bills for unpaid back taxes.
McGinn pushed a well-publicized Nightlife Initiative that allowed bar patrons to pay for overnight on-street parking and to catch cabs at dedicated taxi stands, both to support late-night venues and reduce drunken driving. But McGinn was unsuccessful in his most ambitious effort on behalf of the nightlife industry: a 2012 effort to convince the state Liquor Control Board to extend liquor service hours in the city.
“Mike McGinn has been an asset and a friend. He’s done many things for the industry,” said Mike Meckling, owner of Neumos and Spitfire. But he added, “Mr. Murray is more effective at the state level and not so alienating of others.”
McGinn was seen as an ally after former Mayor Greg Nickels and former City Attorney Tom Carr took an adversarial stance toward clubs under their administration. McGinn championed Seattle’s prominence in the national music scene, as well as the more than $2 billion in revenues that music venues and clubs brought in each year. Almost all of the club and restaurant owners who endorsed Murray Wednesday had endorsed McGinn four years ago.
What changed? The nightlife leaders suggested that Murray could be more influential in lobbying the state for later liquor service hours.
Murray said that his observations as a legislator and a Capitol Hill resident was that McGinn didn’t have a working relationship with the Liquor Control Board that might have allowed the city to even start with a pilot project.
“I don’t think they had faith in the city’s ability to monitor the situation,” Murray said. He said the central issue of the campaign is “effectiveness, not ideology.”
Some of the other nightlife leaders endorsing Murray today included Dave Meinert, owner of the 5 Point and Big Mario’s, Travis Rosenthal, owner of Rumba and Tango, and Steven Severin, a co-owner of Neumos and Moe Bar.
Meinert said many of them have donated to Murray’s campaign and will host some fundraisers before the election. Severin said they would spread the word through their many social media contacts and with club patrons.
“A lot of people look to us for who’s best for nightlife in the city,” Severin said.