Mayor Greg Nickels conceded defeat last Friday in his bid for a third term. The two men who will advance to the general election in November are T-Mobile Executive Joe Mallahan and Sierra Club activist Mike McGinn. All three candidates are Democrats.
The concession was a surprising development for a politician viewed as a national leader on environmental issues, who is so respected by his peers that he was chosen last spring to head the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Nickels said that he had always wanted to be a mayor who made tough decisions, even if it made him unpopular.
On environmental issues, Nickels helped persuade nearly 1,000 mayors around the country to abide by the standards of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.
However, certain issues lessened his popularity, including the Seattle SuperSonics’ move to Oklahoma City, his support for a multibillion-dollar downtown tunnel, which would replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and how he handled the snowstorm last December.
Nickels has spent his entire adult life in government, serving as a city council aide before being elected as King County councilman and then Seattle mayor.
It was very surprising to us at Northwest Asian Weekly that Nickels didn’t advance to the general election.
There will be many Asian Americans out of a job because Nickels has appointed many in his office. He has also paid particular attention to appointing many different ethnicities.
It used to be that Asian Americans were sequestered to clerical work, but with Nickels, Asian Americans occupied posts from top to bottom.
We hope that whoever the new mayor is, whether it’s Mallahan or McGinn, he will fill Nickels’ shoes in hiring people of color. Nickels really has the best mayoral record in terms of trusting our people and promoting our talents.
We think a lot of people will regret not voting for Nickels. We tend to remember the bad things and not the good that he has done for the city. Perhaps some people assumed he was going to be in the top two and didn’t vote for him because of that.
Mallahan and McGinn are currently question marks for us. Of course, either one could end up being a great mayor, but the thing is that we don’t know for sure. With Nickels, we would have known what we were getting.
So we urge Mallahan and McGinn to learn about the Asian community in Seattle. Both sides — Asians and the candidates — should make efforts to be proactive and reach out to one another.
As for Nickels, he has a good attitude about this whole thing. He said he hopes to continue to serve the public in some fashion. We look forward to seeing him in a new role and wish him the best of luck. ♦