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Candidates on Capitol Hill: Mallahan changes mind on streetcar, takes battle to McGinn

With candidate Mike McGinn taking on a fight on turf he seems to have already won, Saturday’s Capitol Hill mayoral candidate forum was an opportunity for Joe Mallahan to chisel away at McGinn’s issues and inflict more damage to his challenger’s citywide battle plan. His method: establish himself as a liberal — but not too liberal — democrat, establish McGinn as an out-of-touch lefty.
“I don’t make promises that I can’t keep so I don’t make many promises,” Mallahan said.
More Mallahan volleys:
“In Seattle, we love to think about ourselves as progressive. Driving a Prius and recycling our garbage aren’t enough. By the way, I’m the one who drives a Prius. Mike rides a bike.” 
and, explaining why McGinn’s anti-waterfront tunnel position is bad for Seattle’s economy:
“Not everybody does their job on a laptop in their pajamas. Putting working family jobs at risk is risky.”

At stake, the nearly one-third of Seattle voters who say they are still undecided, according to the Publicola poll linked to above.

Video highlights of the candidate forum can be seen here.

One change in the Mallahan battle plan did emerge: In response to a question from audience member Jim Erickson of the First Hill Improvement Association, Mallahan said he has changed his position on the First Hill-Capitol Hill streetcar after looking more deeply into the issue and meeting with Sound Transit to discuss the line. Mallahan said he now is in full support of an on-budget streetcar line in the Capitol Hill area, but still did not support a similar system on First Ave. In September, McGinn took Mallahan to task for Mallahan’s opposition to all streetcars, including the First Hill-Capitol Hill line.

With the end of the election approaching and ballots already in the hands of most voters, the mayoral candidates’ schedules are packed tight with debates, forums, and appearances throughout Seattle. While this did not stop either from attending Saturday’s Capitol Hill Community Council candidate forum at Seattle University, it did create a unique format for the evening with each candidate separately interviewed by moderators and community members. As McGinn took the stage, Mallahan jetted off to another campaign stop. But at least he showed up.

“Yeah, I promise to give you whatever you need on that,” Mallahan joked as a moderator asked him a detailed question on the Capitol Hill light rail station — an issue, clearly, not yet on Mallahan’s burdened radar. McGinn later deflected the same question with less sarcasm but the same kind of “I’ll look into that” response.

Mallahan took the first round of questions, which was a little rough as the moderators from the community council found their pace. Mallahan was mostly good humored about the rough start even as the moderators accidentally skipped over his time for a 5-minute introduction. Mallahan, instead, finished his hour session with his introduction.

Mallahan’s response to creating a “perfectly balanced neighborhood” was based around housing. He praised the levy, but also called for more workforce housing to fill the gap between the poor and the well off. His view on nightlife was also business focused, emphasizing it as an economic driver. This business orientation was common throughout his time on stage, causing some stir in the audience for calling citizens “customers.” Mallahan said “That’s what I’ve done all my life. That’s who I am.”

McGinn took a crowd pleasing stance, claiming Capitol Hill was a prime example of the “perfectly balanced neighborhood.” “I think Capitol Hill is closest too it, in terms of having diversity of housing types, uses, and an active night life.”

Both candidates stressed their backgrounds in community activism as experience for neighborhood empowerment, with Mallahan’s training with “the same group that trained Barack Obama,” and McGinn’s more recent history with the Greenwood neighborhood. Mallahan pushed more on the subject of civic engagement, praising community councils as a requirement for functioning cities and stating “empowered communities are the first line of defense against crime.” McGinn focused on community planning, trashing what he called a top down leadership of the last 8 years and the need to  “provide resources to the neighborhood to assist in that planning.”

Both candidates settled on support for pedestrian and bicycle improvements, but as usual clashed on the Viaduct issue. Mallahan claimed McGinn’s plan for surface road replacements would be both ineffective and waste a “once in a century opportunity for our waterfront.”

CHS posted an archive of the Web stream for the forum here.

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Zan-O
Zan-O
12 years ago

“By the way, I’m the one who drives a Prius. Mike rides a bike.”

Translation: I’m not only too good to drive an American car, I’m too good to ride on an American bike like McGinn’s Serotta. I’m also so stupid that I easily bought into Toyota’s greenwashing marketing campaign and am choosing to ignore the environmental damage of nickel-metal hydride batteries. Don’t you want someone as gullible as that for Mayor?

“the same group that trained Barack Obama”

Translation: Just as Barack Obama is anti-civil rights as demonstrated by his decision to lie to his supporters and vote in favor of Big Telecom immunity for warrantless wiretaps, I, too, will actively seek to violate the civil rights of Seattlites as demonstrated by my support for Barack Obama and my company’s decision to turn over all of our customer call records to the NSA. The traffic cameras are just a start. Expect the penetrating lens of the polizei on every block and every street corner, watching, watching you always… never transgress, always behave, Uncle Joe has you, Always in His gaze… ( http://yfrog.com/0hunclejoej)

oiseau
oiseau
12 years ago

I agree with you on the first part. Mallahan just sounds like a giant douche. He is cocky and arrogant. No wonder he has spent most of his time on the Eastside (See: T-Mobile). He is not in touch and would rather take a jab at Mike or his supporters than actually use his brain.

He has opposed things that Seattleites want. He rides Obama’s coat tails. Name dropping should not work, but somehow it does (See: Susan Hutchison). Hell, why don’t we all just run for office on the “I am associated with Obama in some fashion (i.e. I read about him in the newspaper)” ticket.

I want to hear details about why he is for the streetcar now. I want to see metrics on how Seattle’s traffic will cause World War III. I want to know what neighborhood Joe actually lives in. I want to know how he has ACTUALLY contributed to the citizens of this city.

Hey Joe, ever heard of the Embarcadero by the way? SF just celebrated nearly two decades of a surface/transit option. Whoa, and that city is larger and far more dense than Seattle. Crazy, right? Research, what’s that?

Ugh, I hate to say it but this douche is probably going to win. I hate polling numbers.

JoshMahar
JoshMahar
12 years ago

First I want to throw out a thank you to Lucas, Justin, and David for all the great media coverage of this event! We had a great time doing it and I’m glad that anyone unable to attend can relive the highlights :)

Mallahan’s classification of citizens as customers really bothers me. Sure if we are the customers then its the city’s job to provide us with goods and services that satisfy our needs. But at the same time, a customer is utterly separated from running a business and this kind of dichotomy really worries me in terms of transparency and active civic engagement. Overall, I think Mallahan came off as far more condescending and almost defensive when he was challenged whereas McGinn seemed much more engaged and on par with the audience.

Zan-O
Zan-O
12 years ago

He has opposed things that Seattleites want. He rides Obama’s coat tails. Name dropping should not work, but somehow it does (See: Susan Hutchison). Hell, why don’t we all just run for office on the “I am associated with Obama in some fashion (i.e. I read about him in the newspaper)” ticket.

You mean “see: Dow Constantine.” Three times during his most recent debate he stated that one of his qualifications to be County Executive was “I voted for Obama.” Based on that logic, there are 110,000,000 Americans who are qualified to be King County Executive. He should be voted against on that buffoonery alone.

But, many Kingers like to be condescended to by the powerful if it makes them – in their own puny minds – feel somehow intelligent. “Gul durn, Dow thar he done voted fer ‘bamer, ‘n so did I, he be probably as gooder as runnin’ that thar county as I’s would, babe. Get the chi’n, we goin’ to da county court-house! Yeeeehawr!”

Freakin’ public school moron factories.

cheesecake
cheesecake
12 years ago

I agree that the description of the citizens as “customers” was off-putting, but overall I was actually impressed with Mallahan at the forum. McGinn’s still got my vote, but Mallahan seemed more in tuned with the issues than I expected.

Mallahans speaking style was much more clear and straight forward than McGinns, which works better in a campaign setting. McGinn is kind of like Obama in that when he answers a question he gives some background, and goes into a lot of detail and qualifications. That’s good for fostering dialog, not so good for campaigning, when the media is always looking for short sound bites.

cheesecake
cheesecake
12 years ago

Ok well I half-retract my last comment. McGinn is definitely being much more concise and direct in the KIRO 7 debate right now, than he was being last night.

Jake
Jake
12 years ago

This was my first time attending a candidate forum or debate for this race. I went in as a McGinn supporter, and left as one, filling in my ballot for him today. However, I will say that I was more impressed with Mallahan than I expected to be. He seemed more informed of the issues in the race than he has in past interviews, and did well on staying on message. I talked to him in person for a little bit and found him to be a rather likeable guy. I think I would rather have a beer with him than McGinn, but we all know how that worked out with GWB.

His corporate speak was annoying as always, but the person who took offense too being called a customer was out of line in my opinion. What is wrong with that? Do you not expect the city to respond to the recommendations and concerns of entities such as the CHCC? Seattle government has often acted in such a manner, such as in the cases of the viaduct replacement and the mariners stadium, where voters and committees made their beliefs known, and the city/county went ahead and did what they wanted anyway.

The crowd was overwhelmingly pro McGinn, as I expected, but the obvious bias to McGinn by the CHCC moderators was quite off putting. During the “rapid fire round”, Joe attempted to answer a question with a waffling statement, and the moderator interjected and said a yes or no answer was needed. McGinn answered one of those questions with “I’ll look into it” and the moderator said “good answer.” WTF? Look, I know we all live on capitol hill and are infatuated with Mike McGinn, but I do expect a modicum of professionalism from the moderators. The crowd was also quite hostile and rude to Mallahan. Some of you need to grow up.

Zan-O
Zan-O
12 years ago

Based on your last paragraph I’ve just switched my vote from McGinn to Mallahan. I’m so sick of the smug stupidity of the self-appointed and self-promoting “community activists” [sic] that anything I can do to foil the dreams of these once-in-the-past Nader’s Raiders park fetishists is a joy.

People in Kapitol Hill so SRSLY need to get over their Peter Pan Syndrome it’s unreal. Just completely unreal. Maybe H1N1 will thin the herd out a bit on the Hill, but I’m not holding my breath.

Mike with curls
Mike with curls
12 years ago

I am bothered by accounts that the crowd was rude and moderators biased – since there is no excuse for that. By any standard both candidates bring little experience in govt. to the table. Mr Ginn talking about Greenwood sounds like a high school intern.

It is too bad Ed Murray did not file, as he could have won handily.

If Malahan is elected, he will remember community leaders who did not treat him well – too bad. Frankly aside from the tunnel – neither can do much that is too radical – the city is broke. And $$$$ revenue is still dropping. The boom is way over and city hall will be hard pressed to keep food in food banks and pay for essential services.

King County will file for fiscal bankrupcy before it gets much better.

By the way, City Light is owned by the city. Duh. We are all customers, not to mention water, garbage and sewer – again – all of us are customers. I like a shift to reality based language for a large part of city hall to resident conversations.

Mike G
Mike G
12 years ago

Mallahan explained his use of the word cusotmer was based on his frequent use of the word in that context, he apologized for it and admitted that he should be using citizen.

Regardless, I agree with Impressions. The woman who challenged him because she didn’t like that word was an utterly disappointing and embarrassing, smug, self-righteous, vapid complainant. Rather than ask Mallahan a question and listen to his answers, she just wanted to hear herself speak. She walked away so clearly satisfied after telling Mallahan that cars are nothing more than dated technology (as if we just need to eliminate them all together and Seattle already has a transit infrastructure in place to accommodate everyone who drives). She got mad at Mallahan for “disagreeing” on the tunnell issue and disagreeing with McGinn’s beliefs “because those are also my beliefs.” That said it all. This was personal to her, and how dare a candidate disagree with her. Why isn’t she the one runnign for office then?

Of course, the ultimate disgrace was when she called Mallahan a liar and stormed to the back of the room and talk with her friends as if she had just accomplished something smart and effective. What a joke. Now, when was the last time we heard an audience member call a politician a liar? Oh yeah, it was that intolerant Republican congressman during Obama’s health care address.

Honestly, I was surprised that she didn’t later ask McGinn if she could have his baby.

Full disclosure: I’m not much of a Mallahan supporter, but I like McGinn less. I’m really disappointed in both candidates because neither has a clear understanding of how running a city happens, and neither of them comes anywhere close to being an inspirational leader. They are both so dull in their presentation. Mallahan is too stiff, and McGinn sounds like he’s begging for support, a whining boy with no confidence but the requisite self-righteousness to rouse support among certain groups in Seattle. This is really too bad for our City.

Mike G
Mike G
12 years ago

By the way, Zan-O – that H1NI joke is choice! Thanks. I’ll see if there’s any way I can contribute. I live on the Hill, but I’m nowhere near its majority politics. I’m a thoughtful independent with a lean to the left – a dying breed in this town, or one that at least gets labeled an extreme conservative as in the case of Mallahan. I guess many just want to package everything into easliy labeled compartments. It helps make one sound like a thinker, but without all the inconvenience of having ot think!

Smokey Bear
Smokey Bear
12 years ago

Great to see the Mallahan trolls here. Welcome to the jungle. The liar exchange was sloppy but also one of the most interesting moments I have seen in these kinds of events. They call them “forums” so there should be exchanges. I was happy to see it happen on Capitol Hill.

Smokey Bear
Smokey Bear
12 years ago

Nothing about packages and labels. Judging by the cookies in the box.

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12 years ago

Ed Murray. I assume you mean he would have won the debate and not the election.

Smokey Bear
Smokey Bear
12 years ago

If you really live on Capitol Hill, I’ll eat my blue jeans.

Mike with curls
Mike with curls
12 years ago

1. If Ed had filed he would have advanced to the general election.
2. And then he would have won and be the new mayor.
3. As a write in – given the poor polling both candidates have from so call undecideds, Ed could have won via that vote.

Aside the Mc Ginn cultist types who believe he will save the city from something, what is never clearly defined, there is no real excite out there for either…. even two weeks out and many weeks of campaign behind.

Interesting. I suspect many people who vote will leave the mayor space un marked.

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12 years ago

I think he lost a lot of credibility with the:

I don’t like the outcome of the process because my friend Greg Nickels was not one of the top two so I think I should run now.

Would have won, should have run. Who cares.

Mike with curls
Mike with curls
12 years ago

If you don’t care – why comment? Ed lost nothing. Now he should endorse and play King Maker … and if he makes the right choice, he is on top of the dog pile, still.

cheryl
cheryl
12 years ago

From the Progressive Voters Guide ( http://progressivevotersguide.com/?src=comment): Vote for Mallahan if: you think business management experience is important, you prefer a more pragmatic approach to politics, you want to replace the Viaduct with a tunnel, and/or you are less concerned about his lack of experience with Seattle issues.

Vote for McGinn if: you believe a track record of civic leadership is important, you prefer a more pointed and grassroots-oriented progressivism, you oppose replacing the viaduct with a tunnel, the environment is your top priority, and/or you are less concerned about his lack of management experience.

Get the Progressive Voters Guide and make an informed decisions:
http://progressivevotersguide.com/?src=comment

Zan-O
Zan-O
12 years ago

that’s why he didn’t run … he should stay in the Senate and keep to screwing up the whole state instead of narrow-casting his buffoonery on Seattle

The only thing Murray had going for him was that a tiny, tiny sliver of the loudest portion of the self-designated “leadership” of the gay community wanted him to run. If being gay were a qualification to hold office, Al Rantel would be mayor of West Hollywood.

cheesecake
cheesecake
12 years ago

Mike G, I don’t remember Mallahan appologizing for using “customer” and in fact, he said it again (in the exact same context) in the Kiro 7 debate.

Zan-O
Zan-O
12 years ago


Get the Progressive Voters Guide and make an informed decisions:

Translation: “If you’re an utterly incompetent, semi-literate moron and can’t make a decision on your own, we’ll tell you for whom to vote. Just ask.”

If you fall into the category of someone who needs others to tell you how to think, Zan would like to make the gentle suggestion that you spend your time doing laundry instead of filling out your ballot. It’s not a contest – we need quality of votes, not quantity of votes. KTHXBAI.

Zan-O
Zan-O
12 years ago

Vote NO if you care about children’s health, schools, public safety, environmental programs, parks, jobs and the future of our state.

I only care about 3 of those things which isn’t enough to sway me to vote no on 1033. (the things I don’t care about are: (a) children’s health, because B.O. promised the feds would take care of all that within 24 months of January 2009 – if we’re dating it, he made that promise roughly the same time he promised to vote NO on FISA; (b) parks – for reasons previously stated; (c) schools – I don’t have children and if I do the last place I’d put them is in a public school after reading some of the “erudite” comments from others here; (d) public safety – the crime rate in Washington is the lowest in 35 years and the police have been abusive to civil rights demonstrators and community activists lately so obviously have a lot of time on their hands … I do care about jobs, the future of the state and environmental programs but that’s a minority of the 7 reasons I’m supposed to vote no)

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12 years ago

Why comment? Why not comment, you reacted to it.

You waste time commenting about voting for a guy who isn’t running and wouldn’t win.

I’m not sure what dog pile Ed is on top of but I’m sure he makes it stink more than normal.

Zan-O
Zan-O
12 years ago

If you really live on Capitol Hill, I’ll eat my blue jeans.

I’ll eat you, punkin’

Mike G
Mike G
12 years ago

Cheescake:

He specifically admitted that he used the word because it was his based on his business experience. Perhaps he didn’t offer an overt “apology,” but he did indicate that it was something he was attempting to change or get used to. Regardless, I don’t think it’s a significant matter of semantics here. Far too much has been made of it. Indeed, we’re both citizens and customers. After all, the City provides public utilities that we purchase and consume.

Mike with curls
Mike with curls
12 years ago

This is too late if you have already voted, but, remember to Approve Ref: 71 – Seattle turnout is key to winning. Please remind friends and post all around.

Zan-O
Zan-O
12 years ago

I’m still kind of undecided. I don’t think we should have votes on civil rights. As a matter of principle I might abstain. It will send a more powerful message in the long run. We need to adopt long-term thinking to champion equality and equal treatment.

Mike with curls
Mike with curls
12 years ago

Hey – champion of liberty, equality, and fairness for all.

You are going to fight bigots by abstaining? Honey, the cards are on the table, the rumble is on. You seem to be all hat and no cattle.

VOTE APPROVE REF 71 — IT IS ABOUT CIVIL RIGHTS FOR ALL CITIZENS

Zan-O
Zan-O
12 years ago

People shouldn’t have to vote for civil rights. That’s why they’re called rights. Do we vote on the right to free speech or a free press? No. It’s a slippery slop when we start putting rights up to public vote.

I vote my conscience, not what’s politically expedient. For that reason I may abstain.

Jake
Jake
12 years ago

@Zan-O

I’m not sure why the reactions of McGinn’s supporters during Mallahan’s portion of the event would affect who you would intend to vote for in any way. McGinn was not present for that half, these were just a few over exuberant and socially untrained folks who are in need of a pat on the head and a lesson in civility.

kstineback
kstineback
12 years ago

Zan-O you certainly have a lot to say these days! I want to implore you to vote to Approve Ref 71. Abstaining from a vote on a minorities’ civil rights does nothing to help the minority! It is absolutely important that we get out the vote on this issue and send the message to WA State that it is NOT OK to put people’s civil rights up for a vote.

Zan-O
Zan-O
12 years ago

I judge people by the company they keep.

Zan-O
Zan-O
12 years ago

Zan-O you certainly have a lot to say these days!

Yeah, 4-realz, what’s up with that? Actually, I’m in the middle of a month-long project that has me slaving away on various PPTs and what not and so on and so forth and such 24/7 and this and a few other blogs are my only source of periodic respite. Come end of month I’ll be slinking back into obscurity until Marchish.

send the message to WA State that it is NOT OK to put people’s civil rights up for a vote

We both agree! Refuse to play these games about forcing us to vote on people’s rights. Refuse to vote on that ballot line. That only legitimizes a fundamentally illegitimate referendum.

kstineback
kstineback
12 years ago

thanks Zan-O, I and all of my gay brothers and sisters will remember your ideological opposition to the referendum process when we are denied access to our partners in the hospital, or not recognized as a parent in a custody battle or denied a pension from the state…the list goes on. the only person you are hurting is us, not the tim eymans of the world.

Phil Mocek
Phil Mocek
12 years ago

+1 on the concern about Joe “business always knows better than people and their elected representatives” Mallahan thinking of citizens as customers, though I’ll add that if we were the customers then it would be the city’s job to offer to sell to us goods and services in competition with other sellers. The analogy just doesn’t work very.

If Mr. Mallahan wants to put things in terms of retail for us lowly consumers to understand, he should keep in mind that while we might be the customers, we are also the owners and the board of directors, and that we are interviewing him for the store manager position. (And that our store does not exist to turn a profit.)

Phil Mocek
Phil Mocek
12 years ago

Jake asked, “Do you not expect the city to respond to the recommendations and concerns of entities such as the CHCC?” I can’t speak for anyone else, but I want to the City to respond to such recommendations and concerns because we are the owners, not the customers.

Isn’t anyone else concerned with the idea that Mr. Mallahan is stuck in a mindset that would have him manipulating customers to convince them to give up as much as they are willing in order to receive what they’re arranging for?

We’re just not customers of municipal government. The City is not a business, and should not be run as such. It does not exist to turn a profit for its owner(s). It provides services to its owners, who cooperatively contribute to the cost of running it so that they don’t have to do everything on their own or contract with other private entities to do things for them.

Zan-O
Zan-O
12 years ago

“ideological opposition to the referendum process”

All supporters of gay rights are opposed to this referendum. As my favorite gay (I’m not gay, btw) website, papabear.biz, said:

Why people think that civil rights can be voted on is something I can’t quite grasp. Tyrany [sic] of the masses and all that. If people could vote on civil rights we’d still have slavery.

You should do the right thing and abstain from voting on 71. Send a message that civil rights are not up for vote.

“not the tim eymans of the world”

Tim Eyman is not sponsoring R-71, hon. And, frankly, it’s offensive to those of us voting ‘yes’ on 1033 and ALSO either voting ‘yes’ or ‘abstain’ on R-71 to suggest there is only one ideological path to walk.

I am voting yes on 1033 because I want to expand democracy by giving the people the opportunity to vote on as many policy issues as possible, including taxes. 1033 gives us that right. It’s like the emancipation of the slaves or extending the franchise to women. All true-minded, egalitarian progressives support it. Special interests do not.

I am voting yes and/or abstain on 71 because I also want to protect rights and don’t feel that non-policy issues, like civil rights, should be up for vote.

Bill B
Bill B
12 years ago

“Hey Joe, ever heard of the Embarcadero by the way? SF just celebrated nearly two decades of a surface/transit option.”

The Embarcadero Freeway is a poor analogy to the AWV, but always seems to be brought up by the McGinn crowd. Main difference – the Embarcadeero was basically a long off/on ramp to I-80 – it just touched down further into the city. The AWV is part of a through road system. It really is an apples/oranges comparison…