Yesterday, in admitting my decision to vote for Mike McGinn (I don’t like to do “endorsements” per se), I questioned some of his political judgement, specifically: “I still think his unwavering opposition to the tunnel loses him more votes than it wins him.”
“I still oppose the tunnel. I think it’s a terrible decision for the city of Seattle. My statement is a simple acknowledgment of how the Democratic process works. The mayor is obligated to follow a 9-0 vote of the council. It’s not an option for the mayor to just ignore legislation.
I’ve consistently been against the tunnel. I remain opposed. Yesterday, I acknowledged that it’s not the mayor’s job to ignore legislation passed by the council.”
Huh. Maybe there’s a political advisor job waiting for me in the McGinn administration?
Don’t get me wrong, I too opposed the tunnel, convinced that a surface/transit option was the best alternative given current financial constraints, but I’m not so opposed to it that I’d be willing to indefinitely block the Viaduct replacement until the crumbling freeway fell down on its own. Yeah, the Big Bore is overly expensive, possibly unnecessary, and as the least engineered and studied of all the proposals, by far the most financially risky option that could have been adopted, but there’s no debating that it enjoys overwhelming support within our political establishment, and, well, sometimes, you just can’t fight City Hall… even from City Hall.
I’ve never doubted McGinn’s ability to throw a hefty monkey wrench into the works, but blocking Seattle from moving on something is a helluva lot easier than pushing it to move in another direction, and I just didn’t see how McGinn was going to get us from here to there. McGinn’s admission that a 9-0 council vote (not to mention the pro-tunnel stance of the governor and the legislature) is not something a mayor is likely to overcome shows a pragmatic side that I wasn’t sure he had coming into this campaign, and should help assuage the concerns of some who feared a vote for McGinn would be a vote for gridlock, both figuratively and literally. Though considering the establishment support Joe Mallahan has garnered, it may be too late.
We’re going to build the tunnel, regardless of who’s in the mayor’s office, but with the question of cost overruns still on the table, I’m a lot more comfortable having McGinn defending the interests of Seattle taxpayers than Mallahan.