This is a city election year. During the next several months, candidates will utter many words, sometimes even arranging them into complete sentences. Just in case you're hoping to avoid listening, I will now draw upon my awesome powers to see into the future and summarize in advance the memorable, eventful campaign of 2001.
I predict that this year's candidates will be excited. They will be excited about the important work of the monorail study, excited about the challenge of governing, excited about this opportunity to talk with you, the voters, about topics we all care passionately about. And, even though these problems have stumped officeholders for decades, I predict that candidates will be excited about addressing our city's traffic and affordable housing problems. The electorate, however, will prove unable to match the candidates' excitement level.
I predict that all the candidates will want to bring people together—some to bring them into the same room, others to gather them around a table. Coalition-building will be an important goal.
I predict that the expensive new City Hall that was never subject to voter approval will be a major campaign issue. The incumbents will argue, without a shred of evidence, that constructing this costly civic center is necessary and prudent; the challengers will describe it as a Taj Mahal (which, by the way, was a residential structure).
I predict that the phrase "Mardi Gras" and the initials "WTO" will appear in every campaign speech not delivered by Mayor Paul Schell.
I predict that we will find ourselves at a crossroads. We've been at a crossroads now for several elections running, and I predict we'll be at this same crossroads for several elections to come. Or maybe it's a different crossroads each time. I'm never quite sure how that works.
As for my ballot box predictions: The Seattle City Council races favor people currently on the city payroll. And, in the mayor's race, my money's on the moderate white guy.