Well, he's only been a mayoral candidate for a week, but Mark Sidran has already managed to offend someone.
During an interview on KUOW-FM, Sidran blasted incumbent Mayor Paul Schell for his failure to get five council votes in favor of a city-financed parking garage in the Admiral neighborhood. Sidran claimed that Schell's major role in the debate was to write council members a letter asking them to reconsider their 5-4 vote after the fact. "Now, leadership would have tried to work for the five votes in favor of the proposal before the vote was taken," said Sidran.
"You're saying he didn't?" asked host Steve Scher.
"That's what I'm saying," said Sidran.
"He didn't get out in front on that issue?" asked Scher.
"That's what I'm saying," repeated Sidran.
Well, this talk doesn't sit too well with folks over in West Seattle, who point out that Schell's office put together the final Admiral garage proposal and that the mayor strongly backed the effort before the council vote.
"I'm flabbergasted that Sidran would say that," says garage maven Midge Batt. The Admiral parking garage backers were pleased enough with Schell's performance on this issue to invite him to the garage groundbreaking as guest of honor, even though the council never reconsidered its vote and the project ended up being privately financed.
Batt has a special perspective on the situation: She first met Schell when she was a campaign volunteer for Charlie Chong, Schell's 1997 opponent in the mayor's race. "You have to keep in mind I campaigned against this man," she says. "I'm not a die-hard Schell fan, but you have to give credit where credit is due."
Sidran later acknowledged Schell's role in preparing (and supporting) the garage proposal but says the bottom line is that the legislation was defeated. "The issue is not whether the mayor supported it or not; the issue is whether the mayor was able to provide the leadership to get five votes to pass it," he notes.
A good point, Mr. Law 'n' Order, but hasn't Schell made some actual mistakes that you could harp on?
Somebody loves you
At least the Mark Sidran campaign has friends in high places.
Last week, The Seattle Times printed a staff editorial praising Sidran for simply entering the mayor's race. This closely followed Mindy Cameron's March 18 editorial column that, without ever once mentioning Sidran's name, put out the call for a tough-guy mayor.
Such campaigning in the Times editorial columns is reminiscent of 1997—except then the page's hero was some guy named Paul Schell.