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