Best of Seattle: People & Places

Guest Bests

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Todd Bishop is sort of the minister of information in the land of geeks. As the co-founder of Geek Wire, he is responsible for keeping tabs on all things tech in Seattle, be it seismic shifts at Microsoft or tremors of innovation on Kickstarter. more...

Pete Holmes is not your average city attorney. Witness his appearance last month at the opening of Seattle’s first legal pot store, an occasion he used to buy a couple bags of weed for posterity and “personal enjoyment.” more...


Staff Picks

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People

Best New Resident
Seattle Police are nationally known both for handing out Doritos at Hempfest and for brutally kicking suspects in the head for little to no reason. That’s why Kathleen O’Toole, Seattle’s first female police chief, is such a welcome addition to the city—she is surprisingly free of asshole-like tendencies, and seems genuinely likable (wow!).

Best Politician
Before there was a socialist in City Hall, there was Nick Licata. After 16 years on the City Council, this gentle, graceful man is the uncontested leader of the city’s progressive politics. An unabashed lefty activist at his core, this is a guy who lived in a Capitol Hill commune for two decades, who published the alt-weekly Seattle Sun in the 1970s, and who, upon his first election to the Council, instituted poetry readings in his committee meetings.

Best New Mayor
Sure, Seattle only had one new mayor this year, but Ed Murray pretty much nailed it. And by nailed it, we mean he managed not to be Mike McGinn, which is just about all he had to do to make people happy.

Best Social Worker
The bearded, diminutive Pike Place Market social worker Joe Martin has been described as a leprechaun who looks like he fell off a charm bracelet. He’s in his 60s now, having spent more than 40 years in the social-services trenches and distinguishing himself as a most unselfish devotee of the underdog.

Best Organizer
A decade or two ago, unions looked like they were on the way out. Downsizing, off-shoring, the rise of a technical class awash in money and prone to individualism—none of it bode well for old-school organizing.

Best CEO
Microsoft used to be an undeniable giant. But with fierce competition from Apple, the company has struggled, and following the retirement of Steve Ballmer, the company faced an existential crisis.


Media & Politics

Best TV News Anchor
KOMO’s Dan Lewis retired earlier this year, stepping down from the nightly news desk he’d manned since 1987. Long known for having the best hair in the business, during his 27 years at KOMO Lewis also set the bar by which all future TV news anchors in Seattle will be judged.

Best Reporter, TV/Radio
Honestly, we tried to give this award to someone other than Brandi Kruse this year. Why? Well, because we gave it to her last year, and variety is the spice of life. The trouble is, no one with a notepad pounding the pavement in Seattle right now comes close to matching Kruse’s tenacity and output.

Best Meteorologist
Let’s be honest: Perennial winner of this category Cliff Mass is kind of a weather showboat. Sure, dude knows a lot about weather in the Pacific Northwest.

Best Twitter Feed
Stephanie Drury is not controversial Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll, but on Twitter it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference. That’s because for the past five years, Drury, a 39-year-old mother of two, has taken to Twitter as @FakeDriscoll in what’s developed into a sharp exercise in social commentary and brutal satire.

Best Soundbite
If Seattle had any lingering questions about just how socialist its new City Council member was, Kshama Sawant answered them unequivocally on a rainy evening in November, six days after Boeing machinists rejected a contract that gutted their pensions. “The workers should take over the factories, and shut down Boeing’s profit-making machine,” Sawant told a cheering crowd.

Best Crack-Up
When it comes to grown-ass men parading around in ridiculous costume under the guise of being a “real-life superhero,” Seattle’s Phoenix Jones is about as pro as it gets. He takes his make-believe seriously, and if you cross the ultimate fighter–turned–masked crusader, he’s not afraid to bust out the all-caps (or the pepper spray).

Best Bad Press Conference
When Mayor Ed Murray made Kathleen O’Toole Seattle’s police chief, probably no one was happier than one Harry C. Bailey. Bailey, as you’ll recall, is the former assistant chief who retired in 2007 only to get called back into action by Seattle’s previous two mayors. Mike McGinn hired Bailey as a consultant on community relations in 2012.

Best Political Move
One of the most admirable things about Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to suspend all executions during his time in office is that it probably served him no political gain. Support for the death penalty is dropping, but it still stands at 60 percent of the country, according to a recent Gallup poll.


Places

Best Street Remodel
This year I started to notice I was able to bike to work without fear of dying, one of the great marks of a modern metropolis. That’s in part due to the wonderful new bike lanes Seattle has been installing—big, bright-green things that auto drivers can easily spot even if they are busy texting their friends about how much they hate bicyclists.

Best Building Plans
Yes—Amazon is evil and really shitty to book publishers. And yes, the triad of glass greenhouse biodomes the city approved the company to build in their future headquarters in South Lake Union will probably trap its employees in their offices for even longer hours than they’re now working by simulating being outside.

Best New Civic Icon
The pace of Seattle’s transformation is mind-boggling. Seems the entire city has been turned into one massive construction zone.

Best Up-and-Coming Neighborhood
The vibe is good in Seattle’s most urban neighborhood. Dynamic, creative, chaotic, the place is buzzing.

Best Bathroom
As The Comet Tavern’s longtime former owner Sam Wright described its storied, filthy bathroom, “You could hock a loogie on the mirror and put a cigarette butt out on it, and it would stay there the whole week.” While the Tavern’s post-makeover bathroom is nothing fancy, it earns this award for the fact that one can now sit on the toilet seat without risk of acquiring an exotic flesh-eating virus.

Best Suburb
When people think of the suburbs, they think of freeway exits like Kent, Auburn, Federal Way, or Kirkland. They think of strip malls and four-lane thoroughfares, track housing and SUVs.

Best Place to Nearly Die
If you really have to have a heart attack, do it in Seattle. Your chance of survival is better than anyplace else in the U.S., according to King County officials.

 
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