What's Jan's plan?

By the time you read this column, City Council member Jan Drago may be a candidate for mayor.

A Drago run would add a viable female candidate to the middle-aged white male mayoral triad of incumbent Paul Schell, County Council member Greg Nickels, and City Attorney Mark Sidran, helping her to stand out in a field of pro-business moderates. Drago could also challenge the field for co-endorsements from unions and Democratic district organizations. She even has a high-profile media booster in Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Susan Paynter (who apparently hasn't noticed that her column got shifted to the arts section).

A Drago mayoral run would also create that City Council open seat that hesitant candidates crave. Activist Curt Firestone, Drago's only declared challenger, says the shift from challenging an incumbent to competing for an open seat would help his election chances, but he's sure he wouldn't want for challengers. The three names most often mentioned as potential open seat warriors: neighborhood activist Matthew Fox, former television news anchor Mike James, and Port Commissioner Page Miller.

Fox made a political splash leading the effort to defeat the Seattle Commons ballot issues and as the campaign manager (and later, legislative aide) for maverick ex- City Council member Charlie Chong. Fox gets his name in the paper a lot and he could raise enough ($60,000 or so) for a low-budget council tilt. And the comparatively corporate Miller or James would make tempting targets for Fox, who is most comfortable on the attack. But either opponent would have good access to establishment money, and Fox would be forced to contest outsider votes with traditional lefty Firestone.

James would come to the race armed with name familiarity aplenty—kind of like going to war and being the only country with nukes. He also made a fine showing in his only political race to date—finishing a solid second behind Ron Sims in the 1994 Democratic U.S. Senate primary. But would the man who would be senator settle for a small-potatoes job like Seattle City Council member? And, with James' former KING TV colleague Jim Compton already on council, does the public really want another television personality in City Hall?

Miller is the classic well-known unknown of Seattle politics—familiar only to a handful of political insiders and her immediate family. But with a lot of money and a little media backing (both quite attainable for a pro-business moderate who hasn't offended anyone as a port commissioner), she could be transformed into a formidable candidate come Election Day. jbush@seattleweekly.com

 
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