By Assunta Ng
Congratulations to Sen. Ed Murray for winning the election as our next mayor of Seattle. You’ve made history by being the first openly gay mayor of Seattle, though you said on election night that you are not making history, you want to “make a difference.”
Well said, because your challenges have just begun. Even though the unemployment rate is low in the city, there are many other imminent and important issues that warrant your attention immediately.
Learn from Mayor Mike McGinn’s mistakes
Put your ego in check. Ego got hold of McGinn, especially at the beginning of his term.
McGinn successfully built up an army of enemies who plotted his downfall. When it came to election time, you could say they “ganged up” all together on McGinn until he was toppled at the ballot box.
So, Ed, please pick your battles. You don’t need to win every one. Win some and let go of some — it’s a good thing. If you make a mistake, learn to admit it or apologize, and then move on.
When you have disagreements with your least favorite people, work them out behind the scenes. There’s no need to embarrass them in public.
Mend relationships with detractors
Not everyone in the Asian community voted for you. Not every person of color thinks you can be trusted. Please don’t take it personally. Reach out to them. Earn their trust. Prove you can work with diverse communities and people from all walks of life. Be gracious and shake hands with your detractors. We all have common interests and goals for building a better Seattle.
Build relationships with those who hardly know you
You are aware that many who voted for you did so not because they view you as a better leader, but because they were voting against McGinn. They don’t really know who you are or how you operate.
Thanking these unwilling voters is not good enough. You have to reach out to those who have taken a risk in their decision to support you. Invite them to come to City Hall. Find out what their needs are, be they small businesses, Chinatown-I.D. residents, or communities at large, and communicate with them often.
Don’t fire Asian American staff
I know you are eager to give your own folks opportunities at City Hall, and tempted to get rid of McGinn’s people — including Asian Americans. But wait. Retaining good employees who have dedicated their lives in serving the city with professionalism and distinction shows you are a real leader.
I am glad you thanked McGinn in your victory speech on Tuesday night, because his tough campaign has given you valuable political experience. That’s grace. A new mayor should lead with thoughtfulness and not hold old grudges. You can truly be a role model to the city’s 10,000 employees.
Hire people of color
Now that you have the power, you can appoint even more people of color to leadership positions. Most Asian Americans who work for the city are still clustered around the bottom rung of the ladder. The city’s glass ceiling, including the police and fire departments, seems to actually be made of steel.
Institutionalized racism has long existed in these departments, denying people of color promotions and employment possibilities. Your policies can make positive changes for women and people of color.
You and I recognize that small businesses grow jobs. Chinatown-I.D. offers more job opportunities than many other parts of the city. This is because we have more small businesses per square foot than any other districts. Just in the I.D., we have over 100 restaurants, seven banks, several grocery stores and food manufacturers, and over 5,000 residents.
Some tourists have told the Asian Weekly that our Chinatown-I.D. is the best Chinatown in the nation. This neighborhood is a treasure to our city.
We need a better safety plan for the I.D., including more police patrols to maintain security in our neighborhood, more Asian cops who can speak our language and understand our culture, and a plan to help our district in dealing with the impact of high parking rates and streetcar construction. Immense damage has been done in our community; we badly need your constructive ideas and support.
Show up in the I.D.
Of all places in the city, McGinn chose to set up his campaign headquarters in Chinatown. The least you can do is to step your foot more often in Chinatown-International District. You don’t have to stay for an entire community event. Even a two-minute speech would mean a lot to the community. After all, City Hall is less than half a mile from the I.D. There is no excuse for not showing up.
Continue funding for Asian organizations
McGinn funded many Asian and minority community organizations during his administration. Our community depends on them, not only for services and employment, but for keeping our community vibrant.
Mayor-elect Murray, may the force be with you. I hope you implement lots of practical ideas, and have capable people to run Seattle. Don’t let us down. (end)