WARNING: The following post is political, and not only that, it’s about Seattle mayoral candidate Mike McGinn. For those HAC readers who find such content upsetting, I beg you, close this browser window now before it’s too late!
( Editor’s note: Alan Durning is the founder of Sightline, one of the Pacific Northwest’s most respected sustainability think tanks. Alan wrote the endorsement below to share with his 869 facebook friends (no lie!) and it reflects his personal views, not those of Sightline, which does not endorse candidates. Alan’s endorsement is posted here with permission. )
The short story: I whole-heartedly endorse Mike McGinn for Mayor of Seattle. I made a donation to his campaign. Would you do the same, please? (Link below.)
The whole story: I know Mike McGinn well. He shares my values and beliefs about what’s right for our city: better schools, more-affordable housing, better transit, better pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, stronger communities—and no $4 billion-dollar freeway excavated under downtown.
I almost get physically ill when I consider that the price tag of this tunnel would be enough to fund, for example, the current Seattle Schools budget shortfall for 200 consecutive years. My son Peter’s favorite highschool teacher lost her job this Spring, because of that shortfall. And we’re going to dig a #%$@ underground freeway?! (See this Sightline post for more perspective on the deep-bore tunnel. **
Unlike his rival (who has a spotty record of even voting in city elections), Michael has been active in civic affairs and city policy for a very long time. He’s served on countless boards and panels and advisory groups, including several where I’ve also served. And he knows a very wide array of grassroots community leaders across Seattle, because he founded and directed the Seattle Great City Initiative—a local organization that brings together a diverse coalition for good urban development. I’ve sat in many meetings with him and watched him work effectively with groups large and small. He’s both tough and charming.
Does Mike have the management experience to be mayor? Wrong question. Does he have better management experience than his rival? Yes. Running a democratically minded city like Seattle is completely unlike running a mid-sized division of a national mobile phone company, which his opponent did. City governance is all about coalition building, cajoling, and organizing. It’s a nonstop campaign. And that’s what Mike does best.
Some of my friends wonder if Mike can win against a fresh-faced centrist. Ahem: Mike McGinn just ran the most surprising campaign in recent Seattle history. He was outspent about seven to one, yet he finished first! (FIRST!) Having watched his campaign—and his previous, successful campaigns for parks and transit—I have no doubts Mike can win.
But only if we help. For all McGinn’s grassroots strength across the city, he’s up against a wall of money. His opponent has put hundreds of thousands of his own dollars into the race, and establishment types are unlocking their vaults.
You can help by:
1. Making a large donation here: http://mcginnformayor.com/ (How much to give? If it doesn’t hurt, you haven’t given enough.)
2. Telling your friends that you’re with McGinn, and asking them to support him as well. You could forward this letter or write one of your own.
Thanks for you attention!
**Yes, I know. We can’t just spend the same money on schools instead—at least not without amending the state constitution. But the principle remains: a billion-dollar freeway tunnel is a preposterous allocation of resources in a climate-constrained age. In a time when our president is leading us in a long-needed transformation of our energy economy to stave off more oil wars and catastrophic climate change, when our cities are remaking themselves to be walkable, bikable, and transit-oriented, why would we sacrifice other public needs to rebuild a second freeway through the heart of our city? Vancouver, BC, for example, doesn’t even have one freeway through its downtown, much less two.
And yes, I know, it may be too late to stop the tunnel. Even if it is, the tunnel is a perfect litmus test of leadership instincts on future questions. Mike passes. His opponent fails. More on the tunnel controversy here.