1. Best candidate for mayor

Look out, Paul! Incumbent Mayor Schell has the office, the city car, and the inside track on a reelection run

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Best City Life

Best of Seattle, 2000

1. Best candidate for mayor

Look out, Paul! Incumbent Mayor Schell has the office, the city car, and the inside track on a reelection run next year, but he barely managed third place in the hearts of our readers, who instead endorsed his major declared rival, County Council member Greg Nickels. The second-place finisher in this category was maverick ex-City Council member Charlie Chong, the guy Schell beat in the 1997 mayoral final. Our instant analysis: Voters are either still stewing about those World Trade Organization street disturbances or they just like guys from West Seattle, the neighborhood both Nickels and Chong call home. Perhaps there's a rabble-rousing element among Seattle Weekly poll respondents as well: Scrappy City Council member Judy Nicastro finished just one vote behind Schell—and one vote ahead of former Mayor Norm Rice.

Rick Dahms

Greg Nickels

County Council member, West Seattle resident

A few (well, three) of my favorite things about Seattle:

I love the fact that when we go home to West Seattle, we are away from the noise and hubbub of the big city. We can enjoy outdoor movies, live theater, and a farmers' market right in our neighborhood. Seattle has great neighborhoods. But unlike the suburbs, we are 10 minutes away from major-league baseball, world-class performing arts, and food from all nations. Seattle has a cosmopolitan feel and diverse character. Our son graduated from Garfield last year and our daughter will graduate from Franklin next year. Their experience has prepared them for a world filled with possibilities and opportunities.

2. Best-dressed public official

This probably should have been a "most improved" award, but the breakaway winner in this category was Governor Gary Locke. And no, he doesn't just look better because his wife, lovely ex-TV reporter Mona Lee Locke, always seems to be standing next to him. Long known as an adherent of the "institutional uniform" approach to dressing (gray slacks, blue blazer, red tie), observers credit Locke's sartorial splendor to his well-dressed spouse. Gary's even been experimenting with European-cut suits. "She clearly took him into Mario's or Butch Blum and said 'Put some shoulders on this guy,'" confides one informant. Could a stylish haircut be next? King County Executive Ron Sims and Seattle Mayor Paul Schell deadlocked for second-place honors in this category. Sims has updated his wardrobe in recent years, but is still partial to dark suits and khakis for casual wear; Schell's "architect chic" look often features that Regis Philbin monochromatic shirt-and-tie trick—but almost always in gray.

3. Best activist/hell-raiser

He's put aside his past life as a perennial political hopeful after running for citywide office four times in five years, but our readers haven't forgotten former City Council member Charlie Chong. Exiled from City Hall for such heresies as criticizing downtown parking garages and sports stadiums (of the latter, Charlie once cracked: "I think there are cheaper ways to grow grass"), the formerly retired federal employee has retired once again, but has continued his role as Seattle's conscience by showing up at anti-WTO protests and speaking out at public hearings. Tied for second place were everybody's favorite pro-renter firebrand City Council member Judy Nicastro (who's sorry, by the way, for labeling one particularly vile group of landlords "greedy pigs") and anti-tax/anti-public transit crusader Tim Eyman, who actually lives in Mukilteo but would have been happy to drive his new SUV down for the awards ceremony.

4. Best municipal scandal

Rick Dahms

You wanted a riot and you got it! Seattle's best municipal scandal of the past year is the World Trade Organization get-together, which was enough of a disaster that it managed to outdistance its closest competition by a margin of 10 to 1. For just $9 million and change, our city got tear gas, burning dumpsters, black-clad anarchists, black-clad police officers, broken windows, thousands of hours of live TV news feeds, and more tear gas. Wait, there's more: The city's only African-American council member was pulled from his car and thrown to the pavement by police (based, presumably, on his suspicious skin tone); Port Commissioner Pat Davis first received the 1999 World Citizen Award, then later also got the blame for allegedly telling WTO organizers that local government would pick up all security costs; and despite Mayor Paul Schell's gallant offer to take the blame for battles between police and protesters, Police Chief Norm Stamper is the guy who ended up resigning from his job. Second place in this category by a mile was the monorail (that alternative transportation system voters love, yet politicians fear), followed by that almost- forgotten Safeco Field.

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5. Best off-leash area

Sure, it's in Redmond, but it's worth the trip from Seattle to visit Marymoor Park and what one dog owner calls "the Mercedes Benz of off-leash areas." This dog park has it all—water access, a large field, trails—and it's so big that it seldom feels crowded, even with hundreds of visiting dogs and their owners. The second-place finisher (and tops among off-leash areas within the city) was Magnuson Park. While nothing to write home about, Magnuson is the only Seattle off-leash area with water access (a small and fairly muddy swath of Lake Washington shoreline). Third place goes to Golden Gardens, a fenced-off hill deep within the uphill portion of the park, faraway from the popular beach (sorry, dog owners). One caution about Marymoor—unlike the Seattle Parks off-leash areas, it isn't fully fenced, so it's wise to keep your dog leashed when traveling to and from the busy parking lot. Arf!

6. Best nude beach

We'd certainly never drop our drawers at the beach and our readers backed us on that call: The winning answer in this category was "Is there one?" The second-place finisher was equally unhelpful; this group of readers only feels comfortable showing off their birthday suits on their own property (back yard, bathtub, etc.). We had to go all the way to third place to get an actual location—Golden Gardens Park. Tied for fourth were Alki and Carkeek Parks. A tip for nude sunbathers: None of these are officially sanctioned nude beaches, so keep a towel handy and watch out for the gendarmes.

7. Best historical building

Since it was built in 1914, it's gone from the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River to yet another dot-com haven, but the Smith Tower (506 Second) is still standing tall over the Pioneer Square district (42 stories tall, to be exact). The pet project of typewriter magnate L.C. Smith of Smith-Corona fame, the lavish tower features a white terra cotta fa硤e, onyx and marble paneling in the lobby, and Mr. Smith's initials on the door handles ("L.C." stands for Lyman Cornelius, in case you were wondering). Built for a then-stunning $1.5 million, the tower just received a $28 million renovation by the Samis Foundation. Second place in this category went to everyone's favorite rocket-age relic, the Space Needle. Built for the 1962 World's Fair, the Needle immediately replaced the Smith Tower as the city's visual icon and has survived ill-advised additions, the weird "sky beacon" light on the top, and the lumpy Experience Music Project building next door to reign as the symbol of Seattle to the world. The third-place finisher, the now-imploded Kingdome, lives on in our memories and on outdated postcards.

8. Best jogging route

Hey, as long as the city spent millions fixing up the path, we'd all better acknowledge Green Lake as the urban dweller's run of choice. Popular with walkers and in-line skaters as well, this North Seattle park is an oasis of green bordering some of the city's most popular residential neighborhoods. Given the lively mix of people, the choice of running surfaces (asphalt or gravel, plus the unpaved upper path), and the proximity to summer sunbathers, the 2.8-mile circuit is sure to remain Seattle's most popular. But life isn't all about running in circles, so the Burke-Gilman Trail (with its views of Lakes Union and Washington), took second-place honors. The third place finisher was Alki, another linear run, this time along the city's most popular beach.

9. Best affordable neighborhood

Ya sure, you betcha! Every neighborhood has its day and it seems that old Scandinavian outpost Ballard is tr鳠hip among bargain-seeking homebuyers. Throw in a ton of new and newer apartments renting for less than you'd pay on trendy Capitol Hill or Queen Anne, and you've got a destination district for those of us who haven't yet lucked into that big dot-com payout. Second place goes to that old standby West Seattle, which absorbed a slew of wannabe homeowners over the last five years. Wallingford finished in the number three spot. Wallingford? Maybe some readers didn't understand the question.

10. Best unaffordable neighborhood

The battle of the unaffordables proved fierce, lengthy, and decisive, with Queen Anne taking top honors among places we'd like to live but could never afford. Voters didn't specify the reasons behind their votes, but in addition to $660,000 home "bargains" up in the rarified air of the city's finest residential area, Queen Anne has also been adding many luxury view condominiums and apartments along the edges of the neighborhood. It's sad news, but Capitol Hill—long home to downtown workers, college students, and other denizens of the just-getting-by classes—has apparently added enough overpriced condos to come within a half-dozen votes of the top spot in this category. Third place deservedly goes to the very nice, yet very pricey, Madison Park neighborhood.

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11. Best Seattle pro athlete

It's all about The Glove. That being so stated, nobody around these parts was a bit surprised when Seattle Sonics All-Star guard Gary Payton replaced the dearly departed Griffster as the 90-foot-tall poster boy over the main entrance to NikeTown. After a stellar season, Payton was named to the All-NBA First Team, finished sixth in Most Valuable Player voting, and—most importantly—dragged his team into the playoffs. Finishing a reasonably close second was Mariners shortstop Alex Rodriguez, currently the top performer in what has become the American League's marquee position. Perhaps his big poll numbers represent the fans' desire to see him back next year, once he gets that free agent fever out of his system (and another truckload of cash in his bank account). Third place goes to everybody's favorite Eagle Hardware pitchman—and the league's best designated hitter—Mariner hero Edgar Martinez.

12. Best amateur Seattle sports team

The University of Washington swept this category, with the program's team of the moment, the UW women's softball squad, taking top honors. The Husky softball juggernaut has ended in the College World Series each of the last five years. Although they haven't notched that national championship, the UW's fast-pitch aces have turned the Dawgs into a major national power and the class of the country's best collegiate softball conference. Finishing a distant second was the UW women's basketball program, which is a few years removed from its NCAA tournament glory days. The third-place finisher was the UW men's football team, which is coming off a good season and hoping to return to Pac-10 (and national) dominance. We disqualified all the votes for the Seattle Thunderbirds—they may play in the minor leagues, but the players do cash paychecks.

Steve Pool

Weatherman, KOMO-4

Let's start with food: Belltown has the best restaurant strip in America. I shudder to think how much money I have spent on restaurants in Belltown. (I suspect it may be comparable to the total of my 401k.) I can go upscale and sample the wonders of Cascadia, grab a quick plate of spicy whatever at the Noodle Ranch, or anything in between.

Seattle also hosts my favorite festival, Seafair. I know, it's a bit commercial and some folks can't stand the Blue Angel noise, but I must confess I've been co-opted by the Blues. I've been flying in one of their jets. It's hard to hate them after that. Toss in some hydros and milk-carton creations on Green Lake, and I'm in summer heaven.

Speaking of summer: It may sound strange, but Seattle has some of the best weather in the country. Oh, I know, we are long-suffering and love to complain about our seemingly endless spells of gray and wet. Well, in winter, it may be wet, but it's not nearly as cold as back East. In the summer we seldom swelter and high humidity is never a problem. On the other hand, Seattle is one of the toughest places to forecast in the country. However, because our weather is so variable and instantly changeable I console myself by thinking that somewhere out there, I was right!

13. Best downtown all-day parking deal

According to our non sequitur-loving readers, the best all-day downtown parking deal was a Metro bus. What does this mean? Well, it could mean that if you take the bus, you don't have to park your car. It could mean you can park your car in some close-in neighborhood and take the bus into downtown. It could be a reference to Metro's many Park & Ride lots. There could also be a load of bad acid making its way through our fair city. We just don't know. The second-place finisher in this category was the highly-expensive-to-taxpayers, yet low-cost-to-parkers Pacific Place parking garage. Enjoy a leisurely, all-day shopping excursion on the backs of the people, you lousy yuppie scum! Finishing third was the workingman's Pacific Place alternative, the unpaved, unregulated spaces "under the viaduct" along the waterfront.

14. Best radio traffic reports

BEN VANHOUTEN

Winding your way through Seattle's ever-growing traffic flows is a tough task, but our readers know where to go for help. Finishing on top, by an impressive 2-to-1 margin, are the helicopter-equipped traffic-watchers at KIRO (710 on your AM dial). Thank the "KIRO Air Force"—comprised of KIRO Chopper 710 hovering over Seattle and two airplanes scanning the roadways around Everett and Tacoma from high above. You can access the state Department of Transportation freeway cameras from their Web site, too (www.kiroradio.com). It's just traffic, traffic, traffic all the time around that joint. Finishing second was KOMO-AM 1000, which can also link you to the DOT traffic cams (www.komoradio.com), but has no air force. Third place went to KUOW-FM 94.9, where they look out the window every now and then.

15. Best TV weather reports

Having neglected to split this category in two, our readers went and did it for us, selecting both a top weather station, KING-5, and a top weather "personality," Steve Pool (of KOMO-4). Hurrah! The next two finishers in the station competition were KOMO-4 and KCPQ-13. The runners-up in the human-being weathercaster category were Jeff Renner (of KING-5) and the Wapplers, p貥 and fils (of KIRO-7). We can only assume the weather reports on KCPQ are prepared and delivered by machines.

16. Best place for pick-up basketball

With summer in full swing, it's no wonder Seattle's pick-up hoopsters favored outdoor courts over dimly lit gymnasiums in this category. The best place to work on your tan and your jump shot simultaneously, according to our readers, is the Green Lake full court (located just east of the Evans Pool on the lake's north shore). For those of you who like a little carbon monoxide with your ultraviolet rays, second place went to the outdoor court at Denny Playfield (just east of Denny Park and bordered by three major arterial streets). Pay attention while you're playing—errant passes might go bouncing into traffic. Third-place honors went to the famous indoor court in the University of Washington's Intramural Activities Building (or IMA, for short), located on 25th NE, just north of the Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

17. Best place to propose to your significant other

You hopeless romantics! Evidently figuring a proposal with a view is more likely to be accepted, our readers gave top prematrimonial honors to the Space Needle (203 Sixth, 443-9800). Remember to pop that question after a romantic dinner in the rotating restaurant (which allows you to choose the view you think might make the best backdrop for your smiling face and that big ol' diamond ring). A little cheaper meal (we hear the corn dogs are good), but a comparably marvelous view can be found on the outside deck of any Washington State Ferry—just remember to check for seagull poop before you drop to one knee. And, if you're on a budget, our readers remind you that there's no better place to propose marriage than "in bed." As long as the bed is in Seattle, we highly approve.

18. Best place to rent space for your dot-com startup

It's old, it's trendy, and it's hip enough for those dot-commies. Yes, Pioneer Square is the neighborhood of choice for long nights, extra hours, and sincere prayers for that elusive Initial Public Offering. Our readers turned surly on us with their second-choice pick, which was "anywhere outside Seattle" (extra points for the person who suggested "North Dakota"). The next finishers were back in the city with Belltown (close to downtown, lots of new and renovated space) and Ballard (cheap, if a bit off the beaten track). Ladies and gentlemen, start your computers!

Best of Seattle, 2000

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