By Assunta Ng
It is not easy to choose the next Seattle mayor. I can tell you why you should vote for Mayor Mike McGinn. I could also give you reasons why you should go with Sen. Ed Murray. However, I do have concerns with both candidates.
After watching three mayoral forums, I have to conclude that Mayor Mike McGinn, the earlier “misbehaved schoolboy” who liked to interrupt his opponents, has toned down his behavior, and is now quite a charmer. He is a skilled debater, while Murray couldn’t even remember the moderator’s question at times.
But the issue is this: Are we voting for a debater, or a leader who can govern the City of Seattle?
What makes the Seattle mayoral race compelling is that both McGinn and Murray have cultivated close ties with the community. Both are liberals and have track records in civil rights. McGinn is strong in the grass-root level with supporters including Frank Irigon, the late Kip Tokuda, and Ruth Woo. Murray is also well connected to the community, with support from Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell, Martha Choe, and former King County Executive Ron Sims, who has a strong influence in both mainstream and people of color communities.
Pros and cons for voting McGinn
McGinn has an advantage over Murray, since he holds the helm of the city budget. Through the city’s funding, he has generously rewarded many nonprofit organizations led by leaders who have supported him. McGinn has also created an ethnic media initiative by encouraging city departments to engage with minority media. Even though I am a member of ethnic media myself, this strategy is a bit self-serving in an election year. He knew that he wouldn’t get the support of the mainstream media, so he turned his focus to ethnic press instead.
McGinn is known to be abrasive. “I’d rather get things done” than “to get along with people,” McGinn said at the Seattle Rotary Club’s forum at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Oct. 16. His words reveal his combative nature as a politician. He couldn’t care less that he needs to work with those people afterwards.
Five city council members have endorsed Murray, meaning McGinn doesn’t play well with his peers. He publicly insulted former governor Christine Gregoire, and avoided talking to her in public. He was defiant toward the Dept. of Justice on police reform, resulting in the city’s humiliation. In the end, even the police guild turned its back on the mayor, and endorsed Murray instead.
Can McGinn afford to shoot everyone down that he perceives as not playing his way, and still run the city effectively?
Why and why not for Murray
Asian American leaders who supported McGinn have been unhappy with Murray’s lack of presence in the community. Showing up counts a great deal to the Asian community. McGinn has been diligent since last year, attending numerous Asian events, big and small.
Last March, both Murray and McGinn were present at the Wing Luke Museum’s gala. One Asian guest said, “Murray looked pathetic.”
As both candidates were making their rounds in the audience, fans gathered around McGinn; Murray knew few people. No one volunteered to introduce Murray to the other prominent community leaders.
At the API forum held at the Asian Counseling and Referral Service Center on Oct. 11, some Asian Americans complained about Murray being ill at ease, as well as his vague answers.
Over the past years, McGinn has alienated many. Murray has strategically picked up McGinn’s foes one by one, adding to his endorsement list. Murray’s goal is to build coalitions, which will be helpful if he becomes our next mayor.
Murray’s new supporters don’t necessarily believe in Murray, they just reject McGinn’s leadership. Their aim is to get rid of McGinn.
Murray’s words struck me when he said he understands that the “blame game” is unhealthy for the city.
“I will take responsibility” for things not going right, Murray said during the Seattle Rotary club’s debate.
The perfect candidate?
If you are searching for our Seattle mayoral endorsement, you won’t find it. For valid reasons, we decided not to.
Both candidates have merits and flaws. Vote for McGinn another four years if you appreciate his support of the Asian community. Vote for Murray if you are tired of McGinn’s combative manner and noncollaborative style of leadership, and you want a fresh start for the city.
There is no such thing as a perfect candidate. Someone told me that they are sitting out this election because they don’t feel connected to either McGinn or Murray. That’s the worst kind of protest. When you don’t vote, you are giving up your rights, evading responsibilities, and most important, diminishing the power of the Asian vote.
I know who to vote for. (end)