Without mentioning his opponent’s name, Seattle mayoral candidate Sen. Ed Murray contrasted his vision of a progressive city that works together against incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn’s and what Murray called his “politics of division.”
Before an audience of about 100 supporters at the Columbia City Theatre today, Murray outlined his priorities for public safety, transportation and education and said that as mayor he would “embrace opportunity, foster collaboration, provide leadership and reinvigorate our progressive spirit.”
The early-afternoon speech was introduced by Pramila Jayapal, former director of OneAmerica, who praised Murray’s “unshakeable commitment to civil rights and social justice” and said he’s spent his two-decade career in politics “bringing diverse constituencies together to form coalitions to move forward our issues.” Jayapal was one of almost 20 minority community, civil-rights and union leaders who signed on to a letter released by the Murray campaign earlier in the day rebutting McGinn’s accusations Monday that Murray hadn’t supported efforts to retain affirmative action in the state after Initiative 200, which repealed it.
Also in the audience was former mayoral candidate Peter Steinbrueck, who following his third-place finish in the August primary, declined to endorse either McGinn or Murray. Steinbrueck told reporters today that he might make an endorsement in the race next week.
Murray’s speech sometimes had the feel of an inauguration address to cheering supporters and he even had a Reaganesque reference to Seattle as a “shining example for the region, the state and the world.” The state senator has been steadily adding endorsements, including, this week, nightlife industry leaders who supported McGinn in 2009. Murray appears to be trying to cement what early polls have said is a double-digit lead in what’s become a contest among progressive candidates over who can be the most effective at advancing similar agendas.
In laying out some of his plans for what he would do as mayor, Murray said that nothing was more important to the city than public safety. He said that Seattle’s economic future is jeopardized “if we’re perceived to be an unsafe place to live, work, invest or visit for a night on the town. If we can’t face it, we can’t fix it.”
McGinn has resisted suggestions that there is a crime and disorder problem downtown and has criticized City Attorney Pete Holmes for not prosecuting enough low-level offenders at the same time McGinn has called for fewer citations and more treatment and mental-health services for those same chronic offenders, leaving police uncertain of their role.
On transportation, Murray said he would end the unproductive wars between cars and bicycles and work for connections among all modes, including expanded bus service, expanded light rail and street cars and better streets and bridges. On education, Murray said that city schools are failing too many kids. He proposed more dual-language programs and teachers better trained to work with diverse cultures.
Murray recalled his own working-class childhood in the Alki neighborhood and said he wondered whether, as a young gay man, he would be able to enter public service and contribute to the city. Now, he said, he wanted Seattle to remain both the place where working-class children could pursue their dreams, overcome barriers and give back to the city they loved, as well as the dynamic, 21st century city he imagined as a boy seeing the Space Needle built.
Murray said that in the remaining 33 days of the campaign, he would emphasize ”working together and not dividing ourselves” because it was “positive ideas that would move the city forward.”