By Charles Lam
Northwest Asian Weekly
As the primary approaches, Seattle’s mayoral candidates are making a strong push for votes as recent polls still show that 25 percent of Seattle’s voters are still undecided.
The number of undecided voters actually eclipses the number of voters pledging support for any one candidate, as Sen. Ed Murray and Current Mayor Mike McGinn are leading with 22 and 21 percent respectively — effectively tied, according to a recent SurveyUSA poll.
They’re followed by former Seattle City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck and current City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, who are polling at 14 and 11 percent respectively.
Businessman Charlie Staadecker, who is polling at 3 percent but has raised just as much money as the four leading candidates, is also in the hunt.
All five leading candidates, however, are enjoying their fair share of support from Asians and Pacific Islanders, as their work has driven community members to publicly declare their endorsements.
APAs are the fastest growing community of color in the United States and are increasingly growing more important in local, state, and national politics. In King County, APAs are the largest minority group, representing over 15 percent of the poplation, according to the 2012 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. census. To help voters, the Northwest Asian Weekly has compiled an overview of each candidate’s APA support. The candidates are listed in alphabetical order.
Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell
Harrell, who is half-Japanese, is the mayoral race’s only candidate of color. His APA supporters include former Seattle School Board Member Jan Kumasada, former Seattle Municipal Judge Ron Mamiya, State Rep. Cindy Ryu, former Japanese-American Citizens League President Naomi Iwata-Sanchez, Nikkei Concerns CEO Jeffrey Hattori, Louis Watanabe, General Biodiesel CEO Yale Wong, and Neighborhood House Executive Director Mark Okazaki.
“I’m supporting Bruce because he has legislative as well as private sector executive experience,” Ryu said. “As the only person of color on the Seattle City Council, I think he would best represent the growing population of Seattle and the surrounding cities.”
“He’d be a fresh voice in the executive branch,” Ryu continued. “He’s a very smart yet very practical.”
Mayor Mike McGinn
McGinn might have the most organized group of APA community members working for his reelection. The APIs for McGinn Committee, made up of Arlene Oki, WASITRAC Cochair Debadutta Dash, community activist Frank Irigon, the late Kip Tokuda, Adam Smith Community Liaison Linh Thai, 21 PROGRESS Executive Director Sharon Maeda, Solid Ground Adovacy Director Tony Lee, and others, has hosted fundraisers for the mayor.
Other endorsers include State Sen. Bob Hasegawa, State Rep. Sharon Santos, Seattle School Board Member Betty Patu, and “Uncle” Bob Santos.
“The mayor has been more collaborative than contentious with the city council, the Department of Justice and Seattle’s neighborhoods and business community,” said Community Activist Frank Irigon.
“…He has ensured that the most vulnerable and less fortunate of our neighbors are taken care of with his funding of human services.”
Irigon continued. “He did what then King County Executive John Spellman did 40 years ago when he mitigated the impact of the King Dome on the neighborhood. The main difference was that we didn’t have to march on Mayor McGinn because he has been the most accessible Mayor to our community.”
State Sen. Ed Murray
Murray, McGinn’s main challenger, also enjoys widespread APA support.
His supporters include former Jay Inslee staffer Unjin Lee, State Sen. Paul Shinn, Joan Yoshitomi, Seattle Foundation Boardmember Grace Yuan, Group Health Cooperative Director Jeff Sakuma, Former City Councilmember Martha Choe, former Clinton speech writer Eric Liu, OneAmerica founder Pramila Jayapal, and former Gary Locke Chief of Staff Fred Kiga.
“I hired Ed as my first legislative aid and have worked with him and known him for over 20 years,” said former Seattle City Councilmember Martha Choe. “I’ve watched him grow to his stature in the House and the Senate. He was a remarkable ability to understand what needs to be done, bring people together, and raise focus on the needs of the community. He’s very talented and very bright, and that’s why I’m very excited to see him run for mayor.”
Businessman Charlie Staadecker
Charlie Staadecker made his name as an arts patron and as a member of the InterContinental Hotels and Hilton International Hotels executive team.
Known for his character and integrity, Staadecker has raised just as much money as the four leading candidates, though his profile might not be as large.
His APA supporters include Former Director of the Seattle Symphony Yoshi Minegishi, community volunteer Naomi Minegishi, Former CEO of the Girl Scouts of Western Wash. Grice Chien, Seattle Metropolitian Credit Union Board Member and Lawyer Rodney Eng, Ikebana International Co-chair Akemi Sagwa, Lake Washington Schools Foundation Executive Director Doug Seto, Denny Hill Capital CFO Tri Tran, and Pacific Northwest Ballet Board Member Sheree Wen.
“I support Charlie Staadecker for mayor because he will help to create a new identity for Seattle that will reflect the vitality of business, the love and awareness for nature, the creativity of the arts, and the diversity of the cultures in the city,” said Yoshi Minegishi. “He understands that the bedrock of a great city is a strong cultural base to help enrich people and give the next generation a reason to dream.”
Former Seattle City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck
Steinbrueck, a former city councilmember, architect, and urban planner, returned to political life this year after six years removed.
Steinbrueck’s APA supporters include Bellevue Mayor Conrad Lee, CIDBIA Program Manager Ben Grace, retired United Way of King County Vice President of Community Services David Okimoto, UW Associate Professor Jaisri Langappa, UW Professor of Architecture Vikram Prakash, and Seattle Chinatown Gate Designer Paul Wu.
“Peter is very collaborative,” said Bellevue Mayor Conrad Lee. “When he was on the Seattle City Council, he reached out to me to work together.”
“He has a clear vision for Seattle due to of his experience and his history of what he has done for the city,” Lee continued. “If he was elected, he would work well with the Seattle region. … He reached out to me, and I respect that.” (end)
Charles Lam can be reached at email@example.com.