After a ceremonial escort to the City Council Chambers' podium by council members Richard Conlin and Tom Rasmussen, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn delivered his 2013 State of the City address Tuesday afternoon. Drawing from notes organized on an electronic, tablet-style device, an awkwardly hunched yet frequently smiling McGinn attempted to cast Seattle as a place of compassion and progressive ideals - and a place where these qualities are helping the city fare far better than most in the aftermath of a "terrible recession."
In all, it was the State of the City address you'd expect from McGinn, a man up for reelection in 2013 and attempting to turn the tide on a sea of negative perceptions regarding his first term in office. Speaking for roughly 45 minutes, the mayor burst through a lengthy list of accomplishments for the city - not just over the last year, but since he was elected in 2009 - ending on an optimistic admission: There's still more work to be done.
"While Congress is divided, and our state house is fractious, we can keep making progress," said McGinn. "And people will look at us, and say, look at that city. They succeed by being socially just, by being environmentally sustainable.
"Now, I know we have much more work to do to build that city. Much more work. But we've already made a difference, and everyone on this dais and everyone in this room should be proud of that. Let us renew our commitment to the city we want, to the community we care about. And let us resolve to go further - together," the Mayor said in closing.
Meanwhile, council members Bruce Harrell and Tim Burgess - both vying to unseat the Mayor in 2013 - looked on.
What should we be proud of? Perhaps in campaign mode, McGinn spent a great deal of his 2013 State of the City touting accomplishments, from the passage of a paid sick-leave law, to a budget that finished in the black, to the recent approval of school levies by voters, to advancements in public transit and the creation of green jobs, to efforts to mend and strengthen the fractured relationship between Seattle police and the communities they serve.
The Mayor also spoke of efforts to improve early learning among Seattle's children, applauded the city's implementation of its Neighborhood Policing Plan, and beamed while discussing plans hatched between the city and Gigabit Squared to bring 1-Gigabit per second broadband Internet to a total of 14 Seattle "demonstration neighborhoods" - including the additions of West Seattle and central Ballard.
Not surprisingly, the passage of R74 and the breakthrough of marriage equality in our state - and in Seattle in particular - found its way into the Mayor's remarks.
"City Hall hosted 136 marriages on the first day [same-sex marriage] was legal ? and, no offense to any of us elected officials, it was the best and happiest use of
city hall ever," remarked McGinn.
The passage of I-502 and the business opportunities legalized weed will bring to Seattle also made an appearance in the Mayor's speech.
"We're now going to see businesses fighting for market share, instead of
gangs fighting for turf," said McGinn of the economic and crime-reduction possibilities under I-502.
Also of little surprise, given his environmentalist streak, the Mayor used the podium to once again take a firm stand against the export of coal through Seattle.
"Coal trains would be a disaster for our city," said McGinn.
While admitting that 2012 got off to a particularly violent start - including the rampage of Ian Stawicki - McGinn pointed to efforts like the city's gun buyback program as concrete evidence that the culture of gun violence and gun use is one the city is up to combating. The Mayor also said the overall crime in Seattle is at a 30-year low, and said - moving forward - the city, partnering with the community, can do even more.
"If there is one thing I take away from the experience it is that public safety requires a strong partnership between our police force and the community," McGinn said.
Though the Mayor (time and time again) painted the city's economy as strong - or at least stronger than most - he said the next step is making sure the prosperity is spread to all regions and demographics of Seattle.
"We can see that we are creating prosperity," said McGinn. "But we have to make sure that we widen the circle of prosperity, so that more can share in it."
Here's the full prepared text of McGinn's speech, courtesy of the Mayor's office:
And in case you missed it, here's what it looked like: