As we near the Nov. 5 finish line for the 2013 Seattle mayoral race, many Seattleites are still wondering who to vote for — current mayor Mike McGinn, or challenger Ed Murray, a state senator. On the surface, they appear to be very similar.
Both candidates are progressive Democrats who share policy platforms, so we can’t go wrong with either, right? Wrong. Murray offers effective and practical leadership where McGinn remains a grassroots activist at heart. While McGinn’s enthusiasm is appreciated, it would be better put to use in a nonprofit’s lobbyist division. The choice is clear when it comes to their drastically differing approaches to governing.
Murray, a native Seattleite and an openly gay man, has diligently worked for 18 years to reform same-sex marriage legislation.
His experience and drive attract diverse supporters, such as labor unions and the chamber of commerce, because they trust him to devote the time and attention needed for legislative reforms. Former King County executive Ron Sims said that, “Unlike the current mayor, Murray can succeed at inspiring established civic leaders, juicing up a leaden economy, breaking through transportation logjams and buoying Seattle schools.”
In the four years that McGinn has held office, he has effectively ruined Seattle’s relationship with state legislative leaders by opposing the Highway 99 tunnel. Furthermore, he failed to elect a qualified police chief, and he raised taxes by more than $300 million while implementing up to 8 percent budget cuts in an effort to close the $17 million budget gap that he created.
And as many Seattleites know, McGinn has made a complete mess of public transportation by expanding the light rail and RapidRide and failed to properly connect neighborhoods.
As someone who relies on the bus to get to work, I silently curse his name every time a 20-minute trip downtown takes me an hour. Trying to get from Queen Anne to West Seattle on the bus? Forget about it, you’ll have better luck swimming across the Sound.
Repairing the public transportation mess that McGinn has made is a daunting task, but one that Murray is more than qualified to do.
As a former transportation budget writer in the House and Senate, he has pursued the right balance of maintenance, investments and future planning.
He emphasizes a regional approach and seeks to better connect neighborhoods by partnering with King County to rework RapidRide.
A recent Washington Conservative Voters poll showed Murray with a 52-28 lead and a whopping 20 percent undecided.
Both candidates are starting to feel the pressure, but McGinn even more so. So much so that he has resorted to smear campaigning against Murray, claiming that Murray is secretly against affirmative action.
I am all for the occasional smear campaign [all is fair in love and war, right?], but not when it is completely baseless and absurd. Instead of scrutinizing Murray’s actual policy platforms, McGinn chose to attack him with petty accusations.
On Sept. 30 during a campaign rally in downtown, former state Rep. Velma Veloria, speaking on behalf of McGinn, claimed that even though Murray publicly signed an affirmative action bill in 1998 and campaigned against the anti-affirmative action Initiative 200, he is secretly against public assistance for minorities because he believes they have already achieved equal rights.
Murray’s constant support of affirmative action bills shows that these are baseless accusations. At this point, McGinn is just trying do whatever he can. In fact, Murray was rated as one of the top six senators on the Washington Community Action Network’s Report Card on Racial Equity.
He’s also endorsed by influential leaders in minority communities, including former City Council member Peter Steinbrueck.
What Seattle needs now is a strong mayor that can lead us into our next economic upswing and fix our broken public transportation system. McGinn should not be given another chance to continue hurting our city.Instead, Seattle can vote in a dependable, experienced and devoted candidate like Ed Murray.
Junior Natalie Pimblett is a political science major.