The City Council just voted to send a $145 million housing levy to the voters. This is the amount proposed by Greg Nickels; Council President Richard Conlin wanted more, while Nickels challenger Jan Drago wanted the amount to be less, arguing that the voters might not approve $145 million.
But with the two big dogs' views clear on this issue (and a number of others), where do the other candidates fall? I spoke with James Donaldson, Michael McGinn, and Joe Mallahan spokesperson Charla Neumann. Still waiting to hear back from Norman Sigler and Elizabeth Campbell--expect updates as soon as they offer their views.
On the amount in the housing levy:
James Donaldson: "It is a very, very large number to deal with, especially in the economically challenging times that everyone is going through. Personally, I'd like see it be a little less, perhaps a happy medium between where it is now [the most recent levy was for $86 million over four years] and what's proposed...$120, $125 million sounds good."
Neumann: "At this point, Seattle voters decide the amount....There's been quite a bit of public opinion to sway the size of it." She later explained that if voters feel it's too much, the Council will return with another proposal. "Joe's more concerned with the fact that [the mayor's proposal] would spend more on administrative costs than on housing for the elderly and disabled. It's another example of inefficient management costing Seattle taxpayers too much money. Before we eliminate housing opportunities, let's eliminate inefficiencies at City Hall."
McGinn: "I support the levy. I think the amount sounds about right--there's a lot of needs, but we also have to find a number that the number voters will support."
On Nickels' delicate dance with the picket line:
Donaldsonlaughed when told of the Nickels camp's explanation. Later, he said, "It's interesting how people parse their words and dance around the issue and have an inability to look people in the eye and be transparent and tell the truth....I'm a member of a union--the only candidate who's been a member of a union--and it's the principle of the thing: You don't cross a picket line through the backdoor."
Mallahan said this in a press release yesterday: "Greg Nickels made it clear to both Seattle and the rest of the country that trophies and awards mean more to him than our first responders. If Nickels was willing to cross the firefighters' picket line in Rhode Island, it is safe to assume he would cross one in Seattle as well."
McGinnlaughed. "I think the Mayor's actions speak for themselves."
Donaldson: "So much of this is about relationships. I've had very meaningful and substantial conversations with quite a few people in Olympia, and virtually all of them acknowledge that relationships with Seattle are outright poor. We need leadership with the ability work across the aisle, across constituencies. That's missing [from the Mayor's office] and from most folks in our city council. I'd have to count Jan Drago in there.
"Jan's been there 16 years on City Council. She can't blame all of her inability to develop meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships on the Mayor. She had 8 years before Nickels.
"I think there is some truth to [the argument that the rest of the state resents Seattle], but mainly that's because of the style of leadership that we've had develop here over the last several years. If you think back to prior admininstrations--the Royer administration, the Rice administration--they had the ability to reach out across state and engage in conversations. There wasn't this sense of Seattle off doing its own thing; it was more collaborative."
Neumann: [Nickels' approach] is a problem, but it's hard to take her complaints seriously when they go to Olympia with their arms locked, asking for the same thing. It's laughable."
McGinn has made opposition to Nickels' and Drago's tunnel--for which both lobbied Olympia--the seeming cornerstone of his campaign. Says he, "Nickels has been working the wheel. Drago's been working the map. Now she's upset about where they've gone."