One Issue


[ The deep-bore tunnel would provide no access to the downtown core from SR-99. ]

The deep-bore tunnel is the loose cannon of Seattle’s upcoming mayoral election.  In the primary, the tunnel energized Mike McGinn’s supporters while it drove many greens away from the Nickels camp, and was arguably the single most important issue that led to Mayor Nickels’ defeat.

Now in the general election, the burning question on every Seattle politico’s lips is, will the loose cannon tunnel end up pointed back at McGinn, and hand victory to Mallahan?

Recent polling results that show Mallahan doing well in neighborhoods  like Fremont have been interpreted by some as evidence that the tunnel issue has caused many who would normally be expected to back McGinn to opt for Mallahan instead.   My interwebs have been flush with anecdotal stories along these lines.  Though at this point nobody really knows how big a factor it may turn out to be.  And Publicola’s polling also revealed that a whopping one third are still undecided.

As a McGinn supporter and one who also believes that the deep-bore tunnel is a spectacularly bad idea, my response to those who would  seem to be compromising their values in a broad sense by letting the tunnel be the single deciding factor, is this:  There is a lot more at stake here than the tunnel.  We are deciding between two futures for Seattle, and the tunnel is just one of the many potential manifestations of that choice.*

Many have accused McGinn of being a one-issue candidate, even though his past experience and his prolific production of ideas on wide range of issues during the campaign both testify otherwise.  But in any case, if one is in the habit of deriding one-issue candidates, then one ought not be a one-issue voter.

And the truth is, it is Mallahan who is turning out to be the real one-issue candidate of the race: We still don’t know much about why Joe Mallahan wants to be Mayor, but at least we know he’ll get that tunnel built, whatever it takes.

>>>

*Postscript:  Of course, the tunnel happens to be a quintessential example of the kind of challenging choices our future will increasingly demand.  Mallahan’s future is one in which we respond to such a choice by doing what we’ve always done—building more roads, in this example—and denying the reality that the most prosperous cities of the future will be the ones that aggressively apply their energy and resources towards making the transformation away from car-dependence.

7 Responses to “One Issue”

  1. holz

    none of my neighbors have been polled in fremont.

    we’re all pulling for mcginn.

    and most of us are against the deep bore tunnel.

  2. Wells

    Graci for making the point about the importance of not being a one-issue voter. With all the information available only to City Hall insiders, Mayor McGinn will do what’s right and lay it out for everyone to understand in plain terms english, whether it’s the Surface/Transit option, the 4-lane cut-n-cover, or the Deep-bore as last resort. For sure, Mike is right about the need to improve I-5 and expand transit. The vibe I’m getting from Joe Mallahan is tense jive and expect only more of that from him as mayor.

  3. mahanoy

    I would make the case that Joe Mallahan is really a zero-issue candidate who has only taken up the tunnel issue because Mike McGinn made it one.

    There’s a comforting illusion on which the entire Mallahan candidacy is based. It’s that somehow the mayor’s office doesn’t have to be a political or partisan position, that all that’s required is good management skills and competency, that we as voters don’t have to be challenged with all those nasty, divisive things like “issues.”

    When voters wish to pretend there are no tough, painful choices facing them, it creates perverse incentives for candidates. It creates an environment that makes a Mallahan candidacy even possible.

    The sad truth is that Greg Nickels paid the price for making tough, painful choices. Agreeing to the bypass tunnel was one of them (however ill-conceived that choice was and however much it tried to hide the pain). Mike McGinn is paying a certain price for pointing out that we do have tough, painful choices facing us, and that the tunnel and how to pay for it is one of them.

  4. Bill B

    “The deep-bore tunnel is the loose cannon of Seattle’s upcoming mayoral election. ”

    Actually I would suggest that The Stranger and Publicola are the loose cannons.

    The tunnel is a red herring issue that really removes from the debate what kind of city can be had for our extant population and how we can best accommodate growth.

    AWV and its replacement is a State highway, done with the State’s money, and while the DBT is not the optimal solution, it has created a giant circle jerk
    of a campaign…

  5. Bill B

    from your postscript:

    “Mallahan’s future is one in which we respond to such a choice by doing what we’ve always done—building more roads, in this example—and denying the reality that the most prosperous cities of the future will be the ones that aggressively apply their energy and resources towards making the transformation away from car-dependence.”

    where do you find anywhere that Mallahan wants to build more roads, or is not interested in getting people into transit?

  6. This Blog Will Now Go Slit Its Wrists | hugeasscity

    [...] UPDATE 2:  I better spell it out:  Sarcasm is when you say the opposite of what you mean, as in, “slitting your wrists” would mean you actually couldn’t care less.  In other words, McGinn’s statement on the Council’s approval of the tunnel agreement has not changed anything regarding my unequivocal support for his candidacy.  Because it has always been about more than one issue. [...]

  7. Russ Grandinetti

    the Democratic National Committee has live a slightly more useful polling locator they call Raise Your Vote. this website still needs your deal with and zip code, but then displays ones assigned polling station plus the best route to get there at your homw.

Leave a Reply