I’m still a bit shattered by the results of the mayoral race. Nickels was a sophisticated, cosmopolitan leader who understood growth and what that means for Seattle. Was he perfect? Not at all.
Nonetheless, Democracy (in this case, the torch’n’pitchfork “any bum but this one” variety) works its magic, and we’ll have a new mayor come next year — which is too bad, if you’re a fan of transportation and big infrastructure investments. Warts and all, Nickels has been the Transportation Mayor, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s at least a little bit scared about What Comes Next.
So it falls to us, the electorate of Seattle, to figure out which brand of new will be less bad when it comes to transportation. While the worst that could be said of Nickels might have been that he was a little too fond of mega-projects, both Joe Mallahan and Michael McGinn have serious flaws when it comes to their support for progressive transportation policy.
McGinn is notably anti-tunnel (I think he missed the point of Nickels’ support for a tunnel; namely, you HAVE to build the surface option to get to the tunnel, which you punt 15 to 20 years into the future … meaning it never gets built). Heck, the man staked his entire campaign on it. Beyond that, I’m not sure McGinn really has much grasp on transportation. His campaign website makes some vague promises to “eliminate overcrowded buses”, but to me that’s kind of like Nickels promising that it’ll never snow again.
Mallahan, for his part, offers far more specifics. You can read them here, but I’ll summarize: screw Paul Allen and other developers. Mallahan sounds terrifyingly like the “Lesser Seattle” group that torpedoed every modern development in Seattle until they finally couldn’t deep six the light rail. He’s anti-streetcar, anti-Mercer Project. He’s pro-tunnel. He’s pro-bike.
McGinn’s lack of specifics are troubling, but at least he seems to be pro-growth. I say “seems to be”. It’ll be interesting to see how the candidates do for themselves in the weeks ahead.
And, if nothing else, at least the City Council gets it. Look forward to the era of the weak mayor, Seattle.