Earlier this month, Josh Feit declared that thanks to Mike McGinn's victory, "Anybody Who Was Anybody is Now Nobody." Well, not quite.
Political "outsider" Mike McGinn is staffing his team from the inside.
You can breathe easy, Tayloe Washburn and the Seattle Chamber types that lamented the loss of Greg Nickels and backed Joe Mallahan in the general election. Last night McGinn announced the appointments of Vulcan community relations manager Phil Fujii and Columbia City realtor Darryl Smith as his deputy mayors.
They might not be names you know well, but both are corporate-friendly guys who cut their teeth on city politics and business.
While at Vulcan (which has close ties to McGinn's non-profit Great City, as Publicola reported), Fujii has lobbied the city for upzones to facilitate the development of South Lake Union and that unfortunately-anagramed South Lake Union trolley. Lobbying Nickels and the city council was easier for Fujii thanks to the 25 years he spent at City Hall working for City Councilmember Cheryl Chow and the Department of Neighborhoods.
Housing activist John Fox, who has been quite critical of the city's willingness to cater to Vulcan, told SW in 2003: "'...Phil Fujii ha[s] inordinate access at City Hall' and, as a result, 'an inordinate influence over public policy. It's much easier to sway [council] opinions when you are former staff.'"
In announcing the appointments, McGinn plays up Smith's recent role as president of the Great City and a board member of the Rainier Valley Community Development Fund. McGinn also notes that Smith is a former president of the Rainier Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Smith's more decidedly establishment roles aren't mentioned in McGinn's press release. Smith served on the campaign steering committee for newly-elected city council member Sally Bagshaw (the Establishment's favorite candidate), alongside people like Washburn. There's also Smith's other job: Windermere real estate agent. The Seattle-based agency, with offices stretching across the western half of the United States, isn't exactly what one might call a grass roots organization.
The one time Smith made political waves, aside from failed runs for the City Council, was in 2004 when he authored a letter opposing the placement of a Casa Latina day labor center in the former Chubby and Tubby parking lot. That earned him criticism from the Seattle Star, a neighborhood newspaper circulating at the time and Latino social justice activist Mauricio Martinez.
Ironically, Roberto Maestas, founder of El Centro de la Raza, introduced McGinn at another victory party ten days ago. Maestas allows that there was some antagonism and resentment toward Smith during the fight over Casa Latina, but that's "water under the bridge," he says. "We're thrilled that these two very community-oriented people of color have been selected."
McGinn may bill himself up as a political outsider, but it seems he's building his team from the inside.