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.”
“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.”