by: Essex Porter Updated:SEATTLE —
Mike McGinn said a lot has gone well in his 3 ½ years as Seattle's mayor. "You know I've dealt with snowstorms, protests, even a garbage strike and that's kind of a mayoral trifecta," McGinn said. "I'm not saying we handled each one of these perfectly, but we handled them well." But McGinn also admitted he got a rocky start four years ago. "Oh, I think, I came in, I came in…wanting to change everything all at once and I think there's recognition of the role that the City Council has."
His latest controversial surprise came when he recommended against allowing developers a new Whole Foods supermarket to buy a city-owned alley because, he said, the company's wages are too low. "I think part of leadership is to raise the tough questions and be prepared to deal with maybe the little bit of controversy that comes around them if that means we can talk about them and work on them," McGinn said.
Another of those tough questions is crime. Downtown business leaders just made a public demand for more police officers. While McGinn has sometimes been at odds with business leaders, he brushed aside suggestions that the timing of the demand might be politically motivated. "Maybe some of the folks who wrote that letter might have had, who chose that timing, may have had political concerns, but I sure as hell know that the vast majority of the people who signed that letter want their downtown to be safer."
If re-elected, McGinn will push ahead with plans for street cars and light rail and will create protected bicycle tracks on more streets. Asked what he's done to make it easier for cars to get around, the mayor replied, "First of all we're working to make it easier for people to get around. That's what really matters." McGinn did point to the electronic signs in downtown Seattle that show drivers the number of parking spaces available nearby. The signs are designed to reduce the congestion and pollution caused by drivers circling the block to find an empty spot.
If McGinn fails to make it past Tuesday's primary, he will join former mayors Paul Schell and Greg Nickels as the third consecutive mayor to meet that fate.