In 30 years, when our grandchildren ask what we did to fight climate change, inequality, and the achievement gap, I want to tell them, “We did everything possible.”
That’s why I decided to run for mayor four years ago. It’s why I’m running for mayor now. And while I had to learn that you can’t change everything all at once, I’m proud of the great successes we’ve had by working together.
In the depths of the Great Recession, we did not just stand by when the state cut education by billions of dollars. We doubled the Families and Education Levy so that we could provide more academic interventions and college preparation. We launched an attendance campaign called Be Here Get There to keep our kids in school. We supported our workers by passing paid sick leave and launched new job training programs and set records on women and minority contracting. We built a statewide coalition to stop coal trains and are the first city to begin divesting from fossil fuels.
In the last four years we have seen our economy collapse, government shutdowns, and $10 billion in state cuts to basic services, like mental health programs and education. Our city spent those years making ourselves even stronger by pushing for what we believe in and not letting our values slide.
We are showing the rest of the country how to lead, but there is much more work to do.
That’s why this election matters.
– Mike McGinn
Public safety is the number one priority of my administration. Crime is currently at a 30-year low in Seattle, but that doesn’t mean every neighborhood feels safe. That’s why we are adding 52 officers to our police force by the end of 2014, and it’s why we’re partnering with businesses to keep guns out of our coffee shops and restaurants.
But public safety isn’t just about officers walking their beats. It’s about having strong programs that address historic challenges like mental health and drug addiction. So we are expanding our Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program so we can focus on helping non-violent offenders rather than continue the tactics of the failed War on Drugs.
As Seattle grows, more students than ever are filling our public schools. So I put together a team of city departments to work closely with Seattle Public Schools to expedite the BEX IV construction projects approved by voters last year so that we can build new classrooms as quickly as possible. Along with the increased Families and Education Levy, the Attendance Campaign, Safe Routes to School funding, and our new Early Learning Initiative, the city now has an unprecedented commitment to support all students.
When I came into office, we were in the depths of the Great Recession. We faced a $67 million deficit in city government, and our Rainy Day Fund had been depleted by the previous administration. But by prioritizing funding for human services and public safety, we were able to balance the budget. We also made responsible, forward-looking investments in our Rainy Day Fund, which is now at a higher level than it was before the Great Recession.
These fiscally responsible actions have helped preserve our bond rating, which saves taxpayers money and makes it easier to invest in needed services.
In 2009, Seattle was only beginning to suffer from the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression. So we launched a Seattle Jobs Plan, updated each year, to encourage job training and economic growth. And we reformed city regulations to make it easier for employers to create jobs and move to Seattle.
Today, our local economy is growing faster than the region, state, and country. And our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the Great Recession. But we cannot take this prosperity for granted, nor can we allow the benefits of our robust economy to be reaped only by the wealthy. I will continue to work with neighborhood business districts and business leaders to ensure we keep on building a healthy local economy in our city.
After decades of neglect, we face many challenges with the condition of our city streets. In 2006, I helped lead the successful passage of Bridging the Gap, which helped put more dollars in the maintenance of our streets. As mayor, I have increased funding for basic maintenance by more than 30%, and invested millions to bring sidewalks to neighborhoods currently lacking them.
This year, I formed a bi-partisan coalition with 47 mayors from across Washington State to ask Olympia for more local options to take care of our streets. While the State Senate failed to recognize the urgency of this work, I am committed to dedicating more dollars in my second term so that we can close the maintenance backlog and fill more potholes. I will also build on our program to reinvest parking revenue into our local neighborhood districts.
We don’t see major storms too often in Seattle, but when we do it’s critical that we keep our city running. That’s why I’ve invested more dollars in tracking snow fall, icy roads and salting our streets. When storms hit, I ran our city’s response directly from our Emergency Operations Center. While we can’t control the weather, we can manage our response to winter storms efficiently and effectively so that the lives of Seattle residents and businesses are disrupted as little as possible.
Libraries, like parks, are the heart of every Seattle neighborhood. That’s why I worked with Councilmember Richard Conlin to pass a new Library levy to provide our libraries with a sustainable revenue source for years to come. Thanks to overwhelming support from Seattle voters, all libraries are now open on Sundays, week-long closures are a thing of the past, and our libraries have more materials than ever before.
Fast reliable rail and buses are essential to a growing city. That’s why I worked with the City Council to pass a new Transit Master Plan, and with the Sound Transit Board to accelerate planning for new rail lines from Downtown to Ballard and West Seattle, and from the U-District to Ballard. We’ll work to get Sound Transit expansion on the ballot by 2016. And we won’t just count on Sound Transit - we’ll identify new local and federal funding to improve transit connections in all our neighborhoods.
With the help of Pioneer Square, Chinatown-ID, and Capitol Hill, we are extending the First Hill street car deeper into neighborhoods. And we brought together 47 mayors to support a state funding plan to save Metro bus service.
Despite these improvements, much more work still needs to be done in the coming years to ensure we are planning for the future by investing in rail transit now.
No matter how many wheels you are riding on, you deserve to get where you are going safely. That’s why I launched the School Road Safety Initiative, building upon my Road Safety Action Plan, to improve road safety through better infrastructure, education, and enforcement. I launched a School Road Safety Task Force to help advise us on a School Safety Plan that we are implementing now. We installed school zone traffic cameras to catch drivers speeding near our schools, generating $14.8 million in new revenue. I am committed to reinvesting all of those dollars exclusively toward improving road safety near our schools. These dollars will build sidewalks, crosswalks, traffic signals, streetlights and other safety improvements so that our kids can get to school safely, whether they walk, get a ride from their parents or take the bus.
When I ran for office in 2009, I promised to pursue next-generation high-speed broadband infrastructure for all Seattle residents and businesses. Not only is upgrading our Internet infrastructure essential for our city to compete in the global economy, it’s critical to bringing access to state-of-the-art Internet technology to communities that have historically been left behind.
We simply cannot wait for incumbent providers to change their behavior. So last year, I announced a new partnership with the University of Washington and the private sector to leverage public investment in high-speed fiber to encourage private companies to build out a new network in Seattle. Initial service is planned to start next year, and we need to continue encouraging these public-private partnerships so that our city does not fall behind.
We need to lower barriers for those wishing to pursue post-secondary education or job training. That’s why we made apprenticeship programs a key part of our Seattle Jobs Plan, and worked with Seattle Central Community College to launch the Seattle Promise Initiative, which provides a full scholarship at Seattle Central for anyone who demonstrates a financial need, enrolls full time, and maintains a 3.0 GPA.
As our city grows, it is more important than ever that we support affordable housing options. So I am working with the City Council to increase affordable housing requirements from new developments, and with Sound Transit to include affordable housing with their rail stations in Seattle. And it’s why I worked with Capitol Hill Housing to turn an old city parking lot into affordable housing on Capitol Hill, and fully support renewing our Housing Levy.
Seattle is a progressive city, and we’ve long supported a social safety net for those in need. While the state and federal governments are cutting funding for services, we are not only offsetting those cuts with city funding, we are deepening our investments in programs like shelters for domestic violence victims and funding for at-risk youth.
Seattle now invests more in our social safety net than the state and federal governments combined, and in my second term I will continue to protect our city from devastating attacks on our social safety net.
America has seen 30 years of rising income inequality, and it is the worst it has been in 90 years.
Seattle is one of the first cities in the nation to pass paid sick leave, and we’ve included provisions in our seawall and energy efficiency contracts that require hiring local workers — a requirement I want to see in all our contracts.
We may be able to see prosperity in Seattle, but as the service economy grows too many of our workers are trapped in low-wage, low-benefit jobs that provide little economic security. We must have the courage to improve wages and benefits, which is why I will make Seattle the first big city to adopt a $15 minimum wage. By working with all stakeholders to develop appropriate exemptions and a plan for implementation, we can get started now.
We have long heard about historic injustices in our community and disparities in treatment by our police force. We saw horrifying footage of officers failing to follow our high standards for conduct and equal treatment under the law.
When the Department of Justice investigated our police force right after I took office, I saw it as an opportunity to dive deeply into police reform. We negotiated the fastest consent decree in history to hold ourselves accountable. I am proud that instead of quietly cutting a deal on reform that would have avoided the headlines, we took the more productive, yet difficult path, and invited civil rights leaders, the broader public, and police officers themselves to create a reform plan that works.
We had to get reform right, so we created a new Community Police Commission, bringing our department’s harshest critics to the same table as the police union for the first time.
In my second term, I will work to implement the Department of Justice reforms and use our own city-led reform efforts to rebuild public trust in our police force.
The data shows that preschool is one of the best ways to prepare students to succeed later in life. This is especially true for kids who come from low-income families. While the state continues to fail at funding education, I know that Seattle is ready to lead by supporting every kid in our city.
As your mayor, I will continue working with the City Council and all Seattle residents to ensure that we begin implementing the Preschool For All program within the next two years.
Public safety is my top priority. Nothing is more important than our residents, visitors, and business owners feeling safe in all of our neighborhoods.
In the last two years I have added funding to allow the Seattle Police Department to hire 52 new officers, and we will continue to hire new officers as the budget allows. While we have expanded funding for mental health services, much more needs to be done, and I will bring together advocates and businesses to explore a local funding source to help those in need. We will hire more police officers as our budget allows, build the new North Precinct, and update the Neighborhood Policing Plan to meet the needs of all our neighborhoods.
From building a statewide coalition of city and tribal leaders to stop coal trains from snarling our streets and polluting our air, to being the first city in the nation to commit to divesting our investment from fossil fuels, Seattle is at the forefront when it comes to protecting the environment.
We are building the greenest buildings in the world, and providing new ways for people to get around the city. But there’s always more work to be done. In my second term, I will continue to focus on the environment because economic growth and the environment go hand in hand.
I am committed to working with park advocates and community leaders to protect open spaces, increase community center hours, and expand programs. While Seattle has a wonderful parks system, we need more sustainable funding sources to help protect them for the future. That’s why I have proposed exploring a soda tax as a long-term, stable funding source for our parks. This would raise $21 – $29 million a year, and would be an excellent complement to a renewed Parks Levy.
The majority of Seattle commuters choose walking, biking, and transit to get where they are going every day. That’s why I am committed to providing better transportation choices for all.
We are almost done planning the Downtown Connector, and our collaboration with Sound Transit connecting Downtown to Ballard means we can start construction in 2018. Part of this work includes accelerating Sound Transit III so that we are ready to ask the public to support more transit in 2016. And in the face of Olympia cutting Metro by 17%, I will push for a local vote to prevent these reductions to our city’s bus service.
I got into politics because we all know government is too distant from the people it serves.
You elected me because we have a shared vision of what can happen when people come together and agree on common goals.
As promised, we have held over one hundred town halls, listening to people in every neighborhood. Your voice is now at the table.
We are strong when we honor our diversity. Our values are what push us forward.
We have been through some tough times together these past four years and we are stronger for it.
Seattle is a special place because we are committed to working together so that everyone has a chance to share in our prosperity. All cultures who live in our city deserve respect, and we are committed to protecting this special place for future generations.
I am honored to have served as your mayor.
I am Mike McGinn, and I would love to have your vote.