Leave it to Tim Burgess to cut through the pleasantries. This morning at the Alki Foundation’s forum — the candidates’ coming out party with the


They Came Out Swingin'

Challengers kick off the campaign season.

Leave it to Tim Burgess to cut through the pleasantries. This morning at the Alki Foundation’s forum — the candidates’ coming out party with the business community — he introduced himself as the one who’s going to replace “this gentlemen,” (add exaggerated motion toward Seattle City Councilman David Della here.) And later, when it was his turn to answer the first question, Burgess led off with, “When I’m elected and take office in January…” He must be reading up on the power of positive thinking.

Speaking of positive thinking, nearly all of the candidates for city council said solving the ills of the 520 Bridge, though difficult, is doable— and will go smoother than the viaduct debacle. (Thanks to emcee Randy Pepple for gently reminding them that the nothing about the viaduct’s been solved yet.)

The political arm of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the Alki Foundation, invited candidates for city council, port commission and school board posts, to the annual grilling, but this year only included those up for reelection who are facing challengers. Deadline to file is next week.

Other highlights: Burgess and Jean Godden still support building a tunnel under Alaskan Way. Only Burgess supports the surface/transit option. (Venus Velázquez raised both her ‘yes’ and ‘no’ paddles for the surface/transit question, but committed to ‘yes’ when asked if the city should just repair the existing structure.) Al Runte was the only council candidate to say yes to a six-lane replacement for the 520 Bridge. And there was unanimous support for the Regional Transportation Improvement District package. To which, a bemused Pepple couldn’t help but add, “Very good. And we don’t even know what it is yet.” (The final RTID package becomes public tomorrow.)

Those vying for the school board agreed there’s a race relations problem in Seattle’s public schools. Candidate Lisa Stuebing even got a little choked up about the whole thing. “We can’t address the problem without admitting that we have one,” she said, her voice wavering.

Port candidates competed for who is, or would be, more green. And all, except for Bob Edwards, raised their 'yes' paddles when asked if the public had lost confidence in the port. Looks like someone else took the positive-thinking pill.

Perhaps easy to say now that it's nearly a foregone conclusion that the roundballers will be hitting the road, but all of the city council candidates, except Runte, said Seattle should try and strike a deal to keep the Sonics in town.

Runte got some chuckles from the sparse audience with his mix-up of Elliot and Bill Richardson. He said the former, Watergate-era figure had been in town last week touting Santa Fe’s transit plans. But give him kudos for not being afraid to be unpopular with the business-types. “We all know the era of the automobile is ending, or at least we should know that,” he pronounced, shortly after calling Washington "the state of tax breaks for big business.”

Good fun. And it's not even June yet. 

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