Love him or hate him, Mayor Mike McGinn was Capitol Hill’s mayor. We were his strongest core of support in the 2009 election and served as the backdrop to his biggest mayoral ups and downs. He announced his unlikely candidacy here, celebrated an inspiring win, and conceded defeat four short years later, all on Capitol Hill.
By most accounts McGinn was a good steward of the office for the neighborhood. He retained a majority of the vote in the Capitol Hill after four years in office, kept his Stranger endorsement, and was a dependable supporter of public transit, biking, and dense city living.
However, McGinn’s tangible legacy on Capitol Hill is more difficult to put your finger on — you can give it a try in the survey below. He came into office too late to lay the groundwork for Capitol Hill’s new urbanism — and left too early to see it come to full fruition. The First Hill Streetcar might be his most lasting legacy on the Hill, but he won’t be smashing the champagne bottle on its first voyage. 12th Avenue Arts got off the ground with McGinn’s support, but it will likely be Ed Murray that cuts the ribbon. The Bullitt Center was a favorite project but how many Capitol Hill residents will ever actually step inside the building?
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Education, transit, and jobs were McGinn’s top issues coming into office. Crime and police reform weren’t passions or priorities, but a federal investigation into SPD practices coupled with several high profile homicides, including a few in central Seattle, forced the issue over his term. Public safety became a key issue on Capitol Hill and McGinn responded with extra patrols and night lighting around Cal Anderson Park. Many said it was too little, too late.
McGinn prepares to celebrate his top-two finish in the 2009 Primary outside Havana:
Advocating for progressive bike policies wasn’t just an election season exercise for McGinn, he showed what real leadership on the issue can look like and eared glowing endorsements from the Seattle Bike Blog and Seattle Transit Blog. The Broadway Bikeway and McGinn’s bold embrace of the Master Bike Plan will keep him in the good graces of Capitol Hill’s cycling contingent long after he leaves office.
Given the importance development issues have played in the neighborhood, McGinn seemed to stay out of the fray. He voiced tepid support for microhousing and for preservation-minded development but did little to influence either directly. A plan forged in the community and signed off on by the City Council will open Broadway’s Capitol Hill Station to “transit oriented development” that will soar to 85-foot buildings — but that construction may not even be completed during Murray’s first term.
In the end, McGinn’s legacy for the neighborhood and possibly the city as a whole will likely be as the man who turned over plenty of new ground in Seattle politics and in the creation of important and needed Seattle projects only to have those who follow earn the credit of success.
Here’s a look at McGinn’s most important Capitol Hill moments over the years from the CHS archives:
- March 24th: “Possible Nickels challenger” announces his candidacy for mayor at Piecora’s on Capitol Hill.
- September 8th: An early supporter of the Broadway Streetcar, McGinn rebuffs Mallahan’s opposition to the project.
- November 9th: McGinn wins it and declares victory on Capitol Hill.
- December 2nd: A look at how Capitol Hill made McGinn mayor.
- March 19th: McGinn seals the deal on the Broadway Streetcar (and pushes for rail to be added to the 520 bridge).
- May 17th: In one of his early “legacy” Capitol Hill projects, McGinn says yes to the Broadway Hill Park.
- July 14th: Speaking at the Century Ballroom, McGinn rolls out his pro-nightlife plan to Pike/Pine establishments.
- September 27th: McGinn mostly spared Capitol Hill specific projects in his downsized 2011 budget.
- January 27th: Capitol Hill parking rates go up and hours are extended under McGinn.
- February 17th: 12th Avenue Arts and other Capitol Hill projects get a chunk of $145K McGinn makes available for the neighborhood.
- July 15th: McGinn renews his push for later bar closing hours under his nightlife initiative.
- August 19th: McGinn responds to calls from the twittered masses for more police presence in Cal Anderson Park.
- August 30th: The Bullitt Center breaks ground after using McGinn’s tax credit program to help finance it.
- September 24th: Seattle labor history is made at Plum Bistro when McGinn signs the city’s paid sick leave ordinance into law.
- October 7th: McGinn opens City Hill Plaza for Occupy Seattle protestors.
- October 19th: McGinn secures a $900K grant to study connecting the Broadway streetcar to the SLUT.
- November 11th: 12th Avenue Arts gets $7.7 million from a McGinn initiative to build low income housing.
- February 29th: McGinn declares a “public safety emergency” after Darek Darewski is murdered on Harvard Ave.
- April 22nd: The mayor spends the end of April on Capitol Hill, including at the First Hill Streetcar groundbreaking.
- April 25th: The mayor quickly shuffles past Bauhaus on a walking tour of the Hill.
- May 30th: Extended bar hours looses on a 2-1 vote at the state liquor board.
- September 24th: Capitol Hill line items, including bike and transportation projects, make it into McGinn’s budget.
- October 3rd: McGinn officially opens bids to lease the city’s “dark fiber” network for gigabit Internet.
- October 24th: At risk of closing, Peace for the Streets by Kids gets a $20K matching grant from the mayor’s office.
- December 5th: The beginning of the end: Ed Murray announces an exploratory committee for mayoral run on Capitol Hill.
- December 13th: McGinn announces a deal with Gigabit Squared to bring super-speed Internet to the city.
- February 21st: McGinn attends the groundbreaking ceremony of 12th Avenue Arts.
- April 22nd: The Bullitt Center opens!
- May 1st: Garfield High School hosts all eight contestants in the crowded race for mayor.
- July 24th: The mayor sits down with CHS to discuss why he should win over Capitol Hill again.
- August 16th: McGinn announces plans to keep the lights on at Cal Anderson Park.
- August 19th: McGinn rolls out the Gun Free Zone program at Oddfellows.
- August 27th: A look at McGinn’s political border war in Capitol Hill.
- September 13th: Some crime gets slightly worse on Capitol Hill under McGinn.
- September 26th: The mayor rolls out an alternative justice pilot program in the East Precinct.
- October 4th: McGinn and Murray take the Barboza stage in Hill-centered forum.
- October 7th: CHS readers say McGinn is better for the Hill, but won’t win the race.
- November 5th: McGinn all but formally concedes the mayoral race to Murray at 95 Slide.
- November 19th: Money for the Egyptian and a Capitol Hill eco-district make McGinn’s outgoing budget.
- December 1st: McGinn outlines ambitious bike plans, including plans for a 23rd Ave greenway.
- December 3rd: Capitol Hill voters weren’t quite as smitten with McGinn as the first time around.