ED Murray has a long list of must-dos as Seattle’s next mayor, but his first task is to reset the tone coming from City Hall.
Four years of combative activism from Mayor Mike McGinn wearied voters as well as much of the city’s political and business leadership. In a race that was a referendum on the mayor, Murray held a commanding lead Tuesday of 56 percent to 43 percent.
In contrast to McGinn, Murray promises — and has the proven legislative skills to deliver — an administration centered not on ideology, but effectiveness.
That will mean putting aside the smugness baked into Seattle, particularly Seattle of the moment. Yes, the city is dotted with construction cranes, and it walks heavy with fattening tax collections and a thriving high-tech sector.
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But Seattle needs Olympia and greater Pugetopolis to untangle challenges in education and transportation. Murray must deliver on his unsexy but smart campaign messages of regionalism and collaboration, treating those with differing views as potential partners, not default enemies.
In contrast, McGinn couldn’t do that even with the liberal Seattle City Council. No doubt there will be a collective sigh of relief on City Hall’s second floor, home to council offices.
Despite a rebounding economy, Seattle’s house is not in order. Under McGinn, the city was ready to gloss over the needs of its critical shipping port in pursuit of an NBA arena. Nearly one in five Seattle school students doesn’t graduate on time, a figure that rises to about two in five for students of color, necessitating a larger role for City Hall in education.
Seattle’s downtown core suffers from de-policing of street crime and disorder. Murray must find a permanent Seattle Police chief capable of speeding up reforms mandated by the federal Department of Justice consent decree and willing to hold officers accountable.
Meanwhile, maintenance of city roads lags and freight trucks, vital in a trade-dependent region, sit stalled on poorly designed corridors.
Murray promises steady, pragmatic leadership in addressing these problems, and others. Now, he faces the greatest leap for a politician: delivering on campaign promises.
Congratulations, Mayor-elect Murray.