Mike McGinn Declares Candidacy for Seattle Mayor

As Seattle rents grow six times faster than the national average and the average renter pays $635 more today than in 2011, the city is in danger of losing the people that make it special 

The solution for every problem should not be a new tax – amid growing disconnect between City Hall and people of Seattle, McGinn announces inclusive platform 


 SEATTLE – Today Mike McGinn declared his candidacy in the 2017 Seattle Mayor’s Race. 

Standing with his family outside his house in Greenwood this morning, McGinn said:

“For the past three years, I’ve been watching Seattle change in ways that I think we all should be concerned about. The economy is growing, and for a reason. We have a wonderful city and major employers want to be here. That’s great. But the same people who have helped make this city what it is, who have made it so attractive, are the people being pushed out by the growth.” 

McGinn continued:

“If you wanted to design a system to drive out working and middle class residents, this is what it would look like. Growth that benefits the top, with the impacts paid for by those in the middle and the bottom.”

McGinn focused this morning on how his administration would get back to the basics of city government. Specifically, he would:

  • Review City operating and capital budgets – no new taxes considered until review is complete
  • Increase safe housing for Seattle’s homeless – the situation now is unacceptable.
  • Expand affordable housing – regular people need to have a seat at the table and neighborhoods will help inform spending priorities
  • Get back to the basics – politicians love expensive projects, but good government is about doing a lot of little things right
  • Ask big businesses and wealthy individuals to pay their fair share –  votes for sales taxes, property taxes and other regressive fees should be a last resort, not a routine request from City Hall 

“Housing prices are going through the roof - the average price of a house is over $700,000,” said McGinn. “It’s harder and harder to afford to live here, and we sure can’t be the welcoming city we want to be.  On the other side, the solution for every problem from this mayor and City Council is a new tax. And not just any taxes, but deeply regressive ones that burden those least able to pay.  If you’re low income you pay 15 percent of your income in various taxes and fees, one of the highest local rates in the nation. If you’re wealthy, you pay 5 percent.” 

The City’s General Fund has grown by 25 percent over the past three years – over $250 million a year in new spending. 

“How can Mayor Murray defend an 80 percent increase in the Mayor’s Office budget over three years, while we can’t seem to fill potholes,” said McGinn. “How can Mayor Murray defend plans to privatize community centers like Green Lake’s, while pushing unfunded designs costing hundreds of millions of dollars for a downtown waterfront park. This what happens when government gets disconnected and doesn’t listen to people.”

“Seattle has always been known for its openness and for its quality of life. If we don’t get ahold of these issues, we will choke off the stream of people who may not have a lot of money, but who have so much to offer our great city. And we will drive out the folks who have been here, who want their children to be here,” said McGinn.

McGinn served as Seattle Mayor from 2010-13. Entering office in the depths of the worst recession since the Great Depression, McGinn put fiscal responsibility, social justice and public engagement at the center of city government. Working with the Seattle public, his accomplishments included:

  • Balancing a $67 million budget shortfall upon entering office without raising taxes
  • Reforming regulations to make it easier to manage growth in Seattle
  • Managing effective city responses to major snow and other weather events
  • Lowering Seattle’s crime rate
  • Collaborating with King County to cancel new jail and develop alternative to incarceration
  • Working with City Council and civic leaders to expand Families and Education Levy
  • Negotiating a consent decree with President Obama’s Justice Department to reform Seattle Police Department
  • Advocating successfully for a 520 bridge design that is more traffic- and transit-friendly for Seattle neighborhoods
  • Holding over a hundred town halls to directly hear from the public and bring city government closer to the people

“Seattle has so much to offer,” said McGinn. “Having the opportunity to serve as this great city’s mayor was a truly humbling experience and an honor. I look forward to the campaign ahead and the discussion of how we keep Seattle the livable, affordable and welcoming city that has made it great.”

  • Latest from the blog

    Statement on Community Police Commission legislation

    This week, the City Council will consider legislation to define the authority of the Community Police Commission (CPC) and make it permanent. In the words of reform advocates on the Commission, it’s a defining moment.

    I know from my experience as Mayor the degree to which institutions can resist change and bog down reforms in bureaucratic inertia. I also know the role that politics can play, and the desire of elected officials to hide problems so that the people in charge can look better.

    That is why I support the strongest possible community oversight and urge the council to pass the amendments recommended by the Community Police Commission. I also urge other candidates for Mayor to support the CPC recommendations before the Council votes May 22.

    Community oversight is so important - it can hold all of us to our ideals for a police force.  One that is effective, free of bias and excessive use of force, and trusted by the community.  

    I worked to create the Community Police Commission when I was mayor, as part of the settlement agreement and consent decree with the Department of Justice.

    A particularly difficult portion of the negotiations was the role of the Office of Professional Accountability, which had the lead responsibility for investigating officer misconduct and recommending discipline.

    The DOJ investigation had concluded that OPA was mostly effective. Their first draft of DOJ’s Consent Decree proposed what I considered only modest changes to the officer discipline process. In contrast, reform advocates in the community told me that they viewed changes to OPA and officer discipline as essential, and that they wanted to be part of the discussion. When the DOJ and the city entered into serious negotiations, I offered an alternative to the DOJ’s recommended changes to OPA.

    I proposed the creation of a Community Police Commission -- so that the community could have a strong role in reforming OPA and the processes that applied to officer discipline. They would also be tasked with reviewing proposed SPD policies and making recommendations on the critically important issue of bias in policing.

    The DOJ adopted the concept of a Community Police Commission, and the final agreement hashed out the details of how it would operate.  Upon the signing of the Settlement Agreement and Consent Decree, I appointed, and the City Council confirmed, the members of the Community Police Commission, and they went to work.

    When I recommended the Community Police Commission, I was warned by critics of reform that it might seek to make itself permanent, and expand its powers.  To me that was a feature, not a defect.  

    Three years after first making their reform recommendations, the CPC’s proposed legislation has been bottled up in various reviews and negotiations with the Mayor’s office, the City Attorney’s office, and the court-appointed Monitor.  Review, consideration and dialogue are good, but the length and manner of the delays suggests institutional resistance to community oversight of the police department.

    I appointed individuals that were thoughtful and critical of the Seattle Police Department, as well as assuring police representation on the Commission. They found common ground and made solid recommendations. They are entitled to be made permanent, and granted greater oversight authority for the day the Consent Decree ends.

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