It’s election day! If you haven’t voted yet, you can vote today by getting your ballot in the mail before today’s pickup, or dropping it off by 8:00 pm at one of the six Neighborhood Service Centers (Ballard, Central, Delridge, Lake City, Southeast, and University) that serve as drop-off locations for election ballots. Additionally, the NSCs will be hosting open houses for any and all residents to drop in, enjoy refreshments, receive giveaways, and learn more about the Department of Neighborhoods, City services, and opportunities for civic engagement. In our neck of the woods, the place to be is the Southeast Neighborhood Service Center, 3815 South Othello Street #105, from 3:00 – 7:00 pm. The Center is just a couple of blocks west of Othello Station, past the Safeway.
Leaves are starting to turn and clouds are staying around for days instead of hours. There’s that certain crispness in the air and football on TV (Go, Pack, Go!). It must be election season.
Tica and I have been walking the blocks of North Beacon Hill since 2003. We’ve watched election signs go up for Kerry, Bush, Rossi, Gregoire, Obama, McCain, Rossi, Gregoire… plus the monorail, levies, school board elections, parks, and more. This year, there just isn’t the same showing–for any issue or any candidate. Where are the yard signs? Is it too early in the season? Are candidates not producing them in the same way? It can’t be that Beacon Hill has become less interested in politics. The 36th District is active, engaged, smart and passionate. Both Democrats and Republicans in Beacon Hill vote.
Candidates are falling over themselves to attend and organize forums, townhalls, and walks in Beacon Hill and other parts of Southeast Seattle. The City is working on a Neighborhood Plan to decide how high buildings in the Beacon Hill “urban village” will be. There are changes proposed to improve the safety of cyclists on our streets. I know our neighbors have opinions–get involved! Attend meetings if you can, read up on the issues if you can’t, and talk to your neighbors.
Most importantly, register to vote and confirm that your ballot is on track to be mailed to your current address. All voting is by mail in Seattle. Go to My Vote to be sure that you’re going to get your ballot. Do you have a new roommate or neighbor? Do you know someone who just turned 18? Monday October 5th (today!) is the last day to register or change your address online. If you have never registered in Washington, you have until October 26th to register in person.
We have several important choices on the ballot this November. There are two new candidates for Mayor: Mike McGinn and Joe Mallahan. We’re choosing between several City Council candidates AND there’s a race for City Attorney and King County Executive. We are also voting on two statewide initiatives that could have lasting impact: I-1033 (a Tim Eyman initative) and R-71, a referendum to roll back approve or reject domestic partnership benefits.
Learn about the candidates and their values. Understand the implications of the initiatives. Vote. That’s even more important than yard signs.
(Editor’s note — corrected R-71 reference. If you vote “approve” on R-71, that is to approve the new state domestic partnership law. If you vote “reject,” your vote would be to repeal the law.)
Mike McGinn had a whirlwind day in Southeast Seattle. He started off in Columbia City, opened his new office near Othello Station, more in the ID, then to Jefferson Park Community Center at 8:00 pm. He was up-front about being tired, but made it clear he was happy to be in Beacon Hill.
About 25 of our neighbors came to share their ideas with Mike. He was engaging, patient, and smart. He listened and responded thoughtfully. He does not seem like a politician. Will people vote for someone who doesn’t seem like a politician? I hope they do. Mike McGinn is working very hard to establish personal connections–he’s not slick or packaged. He’s honest about not knowing the answer to everything. Attending a McGinn event is a refreshing change from closely-managed rallies with talking points.
Campaign volunteer (and Southeast Seattle community activist) Thao Tran introduced him by name, then Mike shared his personal history. He’s originally from Long Island, New York. His parents were both involved in public education: his dad, a school administrator, his mom a pre-K and Kindergarten teacher. Mike and his wife have three kids in Seattle public schools. Public education is very important to McGinn, on a personal level. He’s committed to improving the quality of Seattle public schools.
He moved to Seattle in 1989, practiced law for a while, then founded Great City–a nonprofit striving to “enhance our quality of life, help preserve our region’s natural beauty, and make Seattle a model of economic and environmental sustainability.” Mike explained that Great City was–in part–responsible for putting the Pro Parks Levy on the ballot and helping pass it. Mike got the community organizing bug. He threw his name in for mayor, believing that the race needed to be about the future. He won the primary, and is running against Joe Mallahan to be our next Mayor. It’s a surprise to everyone–including Mike. He says, “Everyone expected this race to be between Nickels and someone. It’s not–it’s between two new guys. That gives a chance to talk about the future. We still need to learn from the past–but let’s talk about the future.”
The Beacon Hill town hall topics included bringing jobs to the Hill, making it easier for small businesses (including home businesses) to survive and grow, making our parks safer and improving internet connectivity on the Hill and around the city. McGinn addressed concerns from two neighbors about a gun ban in parks violating civil liberties by saying that he supports the proposed ban because he believes it will make our parks safer.
McGinn’s campaign is run entirely by volunteers. He rides his bike, takes mass transit, and relies on rides from supporters to get to events. He’s gotten the most press from his vocal opposition to a deep-bore tunnel replacing the Alaskan Way viaduct. Neighbors asked Mike about the tunnel and how he would do things differently. He laid out a clear, succinct argument. Google “Mike McGinn tunnel” to hear it.
I was more interested in how he felt/what he thinks about all the other issues facing Seattle. We’ve heard a lot about how McGinn opposes the tunnel. It turns out McGinn supports a lot of other things: improving public schools, supporting neighborhoods, making Seattle safer, saving money, creating a broadband public utility, and lots of other things. His campaign established a website so you can share your thoughts: www.ideasforseattle.org.
Are you registered to vote at your current address? Have you researched the candidates and the issues on the ballot? Be a good neighbor; be an informed, engaged voter. Attend meetings, read materials, talk to your neighbors. We are choosing a new mayor for the first time in eight years. This decision will shape our neighborhood for years–if not decades–to come.