By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
Mike McGinn is officially Seattle’s mayor. He was sworn in on Jan. 4. The oath of office was administered by his children, Miyo, 12, and Cian, 10, in the city council chambers.
“It’s very important to us to hear from everyone in Seattle about what they think is important,” Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said late last year, referring to how his campaign was run differently than how others are normally run — in a good way — and how he hopes to continue this grassroots spirit in his administration.
During his campaign, McGinn did not have a paid staff and was known for riding his bicycle to events.
“He has demonstrated a willingness to take on the status quo,” wrote Kip Tokuda in a letter. “Mike’s style is more bottom-up, inclusive, and intentional. I have found him to be approachable … one comfortable at leading a large forum, or simply sharing notes over coffee.” Tokuda is a former state representative from the 37th Legislative District, was one of McGinn’s transition facilitators, and is currently acting director of human services in the mayor’s office.
McGinn grew up as one of six children and was raised by educators. His mother was a school principal and his father was the director of community services for a school district.
McGinn earned his bachelor’s in economics from Williams College and earned his law degree from the University of Washington. After college, he eventually became partner at Seattle law firm Stokes Lawrence for 13 years, where he dealt with contract disputes, class actions, intellectual property, land use, and environmental cases.
Before becoming mayor
McGinn was the president of the Greenwood Community Council until 2006. He most recently cofounded and was the executive director of Great City, a nonprofit organization that brings together neighbors, environmentalists, and business leaders.
Under McGinn, Great City coordinated the Green Legacy Coalition, which urged the city council to make new investments in parks and green spaces.
McGinn has chaired the local chapter of the Sierra Club since 1995, overseeing the club’s work on state and local issues.
Most recently, McGinn was chosen by the Sierra Club president to serve on the nominating committee for the Sierra Club National Board. With the club, he advocated for Seattle to take a lead on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“[McGinn] is very welcoming in trying to push an inclusive form of government,” said Tokuda in November.
Asian Americans were prominent at McGinn’s transition outreach meetings, public meetings designed to garner input from community members before McGinn took office.
“Mike is really trying to reach out to all communities, to gain trust in his administration,” said Mark Okazaki, executive director of Neighborhood House.
“I voted for Mike because of his ability to see and understand that all people, including those of color and different economic backgrounds, have a voice in government,” said Velma Veloria, former state representative.
Alan Sugiyama, the Center for Career Alternatives’ executive director, agrees. “[McGinn has] a deep-rooted passion to make this world a kinder and nicer place for everyone, especially for children.”
McGinn’s Asian staff members
One of McGinn’s deputy mayors is Phil Fujii, the community relations manager at Vulcan Inc. He previously worked with McGinn in 2000 when Fujii was with the city’s Department of Neighborhoods and McGinn was a Greenwood neighborhood leader, according to The Seattle Times.
Tokuda, acting director of human services, will serve in this position until a permanent director is selected.
Candace Inagi is the labor and community liaison. She previously served as chief lobbyist for SEIU Healthcare 775NW, where she also worked to manage government and community affairs.
Diane Sugimura will continue as director of the Department of Planning and Development.
Stella Chao will continue as the director of the Department of Neighborhoods.
Thao Tran was on McGinn’s transition team, which ended Dec. 31. Tran is currently working with the mayor’s office to determine a position in city government, stated Tokuda.
The ‘real’ Mike
When he isn’t busy being Seattle’s mayor, he enjoys coaching his sons and daughter in youth sports as well as tending to his garden.
McGinn is married to Peggy Lynch, and they have three children, Jack, Miyo, and Cian.
Also sworn in on Jan. 4 were city councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Nick Licata, Richard Conlin, Mike O’Brien, and city attorney Pete Holmes. ♦
McGinn will hold an open house at Seattle City Hall on Saturday, Jan. 9 from 1 to 5 p.m. where he says he will announce more initiatives.
Stacy Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.