Sporting a layer of stubble that made him look a little like Philip Seymour Hoffman, former Sierra Club chair and Seattle Great City Initiative founder Mike McGinn announced his candidacy for mayor at Piecora's today. He opened by quoting hockey great Wayne Gretzky: "I don't skate to where the puck is; I skate to where the puck is going to be."
Continuing his hockey analogy, McGinn went on to anticipate the puck's location in his three key areas: schools (he's prepared to have the city take them over), Internet infrastructure (he wants municipal fiber optic broadband), and transportation (more buses, less tunnel). Below are some selected quotes on each, as well as on public safety:
"What we do is we elect school board members, we yell at them for two years, and then we elect new school board members." In his first two years in office, he would "work with parents, teachers, administrators...if after two years, we can't make demonstrable progress, I think it's time to take a look at city control of schools. If after four years there isn't demonstrable progress on schools, fire me."Internet Infrastructure
"Fiber optic cable...will be to the future generations what investing in highways or railroads was to prior generations. Our country's well behind other countries in internet infrastructure. In fact our city is behind other cities. The reason for that is...the private company you'd expect to do that, the telephone company, doesn't have the resources.
"We happen to have an entity in town that can...it's called Seattle City Light. They've got poles, wires, rights of way....We have the ability to create a broadband utility" that's available to everyone, not just those from whom telecom companies can make a profit. "You can charge people less than they're currently paying, give them better service, and pay off the infrastructure".
"What I'd like to do is banish the phrase 'overcrowded bus' from our vocabulary. You go to a bus stop, there should be a bus coming. It should be clean, it should be safe, it should be on time." When someone pointed out that Metro wouldn't be under his control, he argued that it's a question of priorities. "We don't have control over Washdot either but somehow we got $2 billion for the tunnel. We don't have control over the state legislature."
On the tunnel: "The question is, "Do we really need 1.75 miles of tunnel for $2 billion? Is that our next highest infrastructure [priority]? I don't think it is." He said he would instead revive the surface/transit option.
On the Mercer fix: "I think the basic problem is there are people all over this town who live on really crappy streets. Linden avenue in Bitter Lake is the main street in an urban village...we can't seem to scrap together $10 million to fix that street." The price tag for Mercer needs to come down, he said, so that other streets can be fixed as well. One suggestion he had generally (that might apply to this situation) was letting neighborhoods have some say in the direction of the money from their parking meters and commercial parking taxes.
On emissions: "[Greg Nickels] did the right thing when he committed the City of Seattle to meeting Kyoto Protocol. that was real leadership. but when you commit to the Kyoto Protocol and go around the country signing up hundreds of other mayors, it's really important that you actually meet the Kyoto Protocol. The single largest source of emissions in this town is from transportation." McGinn cited the tunnel and the roads/transit package as examples of Nickels' Kyoto-unfriendly policies.
Here's where McGinn was caught off guard. Asked for his ideas on how to deal with youth violence, he stumbled through a series of non-answers, unable to explain why, if the issue's a high priority, he hasn't formulated any ideas:
"Not right now, that's a really complex problem, the issue of youth violence. We have to get behind it, we have to provide the services to make it work. I'm gonna have to really talk to some people that are really smart about and look for their advice. that's gonna be a very high priority. It's gonna be a long campaign season and we'll tell you where we think we ought to go."