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Michael McGinn

Michael McGinn at an Approve R-71 rally

Assumed office 
1 January 2010
Deputy Phil Fujii
Darryl Smith
Preceded by Gregory J. Nickels
Majority 105492 (51.14%)[1]

Born Long Island, NY
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Peggy McGinn
Children Jack McGinn
Miyo McGinn
Cian McGinn
Residence Greenwood, Seattle, Washington
Alma mater Williams College (B.A. 1982)
University of Washington School of Law (J.D. 1992)
Occupation Politician
Profession Attorney, Activist
Website Mayor Mike McGinn

Michael "Mike" McGinn is the Mayor of Seattle, a lawyer, Greenwood neighborhood activist and a former Sierra Club state Chair.[2] He built his candidacy around his opposition to the proposed tunnel replacement to the Alaskan Way Viaduct.



Originally from Long Island, New York, McGinn grew up in a family of eight. He earned a BA in economics from Williams College and then attended law school at the University of Washington. After graduation, he practiced business law for the Seattle firm Stokes Lawrence, eventually becoming a partner. He remained a full-time lawyer for Stokes Lawrence until 2006, when he started a small non-profit.

Political activism

McGinn is the founder and former executive director of the Seattle Great City Initiative, a non-profit advocacy group, as well as the former head of the Greenwood Community Council.[3] While at Seattle Great Initiative McGinn oversaw a budget of $160,000 and worked alliances with companies like Triad Development, Harbor Properties and Paul Allen's Vulcan Inc. on environmental and urban development issues.[4] In his capacity as a neighborhood organizer and head of his non-profit McGinn endorsed his future opponent Greg Nickels and worked with him to bar development of large, commercial "big box stores", eliminate street parking in favor of bus lanes and push for changes in zoning laws to encourage greater density in the Greenwood neighborhood.[5] McGinn stepped down from his position as head of the Greenwood Community Council in 2006 and as Executive Director of his non-profit in March 2009 in order to run for Mayor.[6] In 2007, McGinn used his position as a leader in the Sierra Club's Cascade Chapter to help successfully campaign against Washington State's Proposition 1, a combined road and mass transit measure, in favor of a transit-only measure.[7][8] Later McGinn chaired the successful campaign to pass a Seattle parks levy.[9]

2009 Seattle Mayoral Campaign

McGinn announced his candidacy in the 2009 Seattle Mayoral election at Piecora's Pizza on First Hill on March 24, 2009, declaring that his principal policy positions would center on schools, broadband Internet access and local transportation infrastructure. He expounded his initial policy proposals with the idea of abolishing local school boards and replacing them with city officials, replacing private broadband Internet service with a government-controlled utility provider, the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a surface street instead of the planned tunnel and greater local neighborhood control of their parking taxes and meter rates. [10]

After Mayor Greg Nickels came out with a proposal to eliminate Seattle's head tax on business on the grounds it was no longer needed and was hurting business and job growth, it quickly became a campaign issue. McGinn opposes overturning the head tax, called the Employee Hours Tax, which taxes business $25 for each one of its employees that drives to work alone. McGinn maintains that Nickels and his opponent Mallahan, who also favors repealing the tax, are "out of touch" and too close to the "business elite".[11]

The McGinn primary campaign was run along a populist model similar to the strategy he utilized as a community and environmentalist organizer. McGinn was known to ride his electrically-assisted bicycle to and from political events and maintained no paid campaign staff. In a surprise upset, aided by exposure in the form of a cover profile from The Stranger,[12] McGinn came in first in the August primary by earning 39,097 votes, beating runner up Joe Mallahan's 37,933 votes and incumbent Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels' 35,781 votes. As of October 2009 the McGinn campaign has raised approximately $150,000.[13]


Although a major selling point for many voters McGinn has simultaneously received significant criticism over his anti-tunnel stance from groups like the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce,[14] the downtown business community[15], the King County Labor Council[16] and the Seattle Times which called McGinn's surface street plan "impractical" and claimed it would clog downtown and overwhelm nearby Interstate 5.[17][18] Despite being perceived as the more left of the two candidates, McGinn never gained the widespread support of local organized labor unions. The King County Labor Council endorsed McGinn's opponent, Joe Mallahan, mainly on the position that McGinn's opposition to the viaduct tunnel, described by unions as a "deal breaker", would cause the city and its unions to lose jobs and billions of dollars from the State of Washington and Federal government.[19][20] McGinn did, however, receive the endorsements of several unions who did not stand to directly benefit from the building of the tunnel, including IBEW Local 77,SEIU Local 925, and UFCW Local 21.[21] In the aftermath of the election requests for state employee emails revealed a deep discomfort with the McGinn campaign by state government and transportation officials over McGinn's anti tunnel position. Ron Judd, an aide to Washington Governor Chris Gregoire, sent emails to staff and DOT officials claiming McGinn's position was "BS" and accused McGinn of stoking populist angers and relying on voter's ignorance about funding details to advance his anti-tunnel stance. Washington State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond called McGinn's budget forecasting "wild accusations" and in response to questions her involvement in opposing the McGinn campaign she said "I can't stand it when politicians make things up in order to win an election. When people do that, I think it's our responsibility to clear the record. That's my motivation."[22] After the Seattle Firefighters Union Local 27 and the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) endorsed Joe Mallahan the SPOG President Sgt. Rich O'Neill went on record at a news conference to criticize McGinn's lack of an adequate policy position regarding public safety.[23]

Since running for mayor McGinn's history has come under greater scrutiny, including his chairmanship of the 2008 parks levy campaign, in spite of its successful outcome. Members of the Seattle City Council, including Tom Rasmussen, have contended that McGinn mismanaged the effort. The City Council became "alarmed" at what was described as a disorganized effort and appointed Seattle Parks Foundation Executive Director Karen Daubert as co-chair to help right the effort. Rasmussen contends that it was Daubert that "saved the day" for the levy despite McGinn receiving credit.[9] McGinn has also been accused of "push polling" with robo calls to Seattle residents. His opponent Joe Mallahan called the survey (pdf) about the proposed Alaska Way Viaduct "dishonest" but McGinn claims the poll was entirely legitimate research.[24]

Policy positions


McGinn supports the legalization and taxation of marijuana, saying on KUOW-FM, "We recognize that, you know, like alcohol, it's something that should be regulated, not treated as a criminal activity. And I think that's where the citizens of Seattle want us to go." He believes marijuana can be used as a cash crop to offset the city's financial problems.[25] Relevant legislation, House Bill 2401, has been submitted by Washington State Senator Mary Lou Dickerson and is currently pending in the Washington state House of Representatives.[26]

Light rail expansion

McGinn asked the public for help identifying issues he should tackle as mayor. Light rail expansion topped the list.[25] McGinn wants light rail expansion, calling for a public vote in 2011 for a new light rail line for the western side of the city, including Ballard, Interbay, Queen Anne, Belltown, Downtown, West Seattle, and possibly Fremont.[27]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "75% of Seattle voters picking someone besides Nickels in race for mayor". Seattle Times.  
  3. ^ "Sections of Seattle still await sidewalks". The Seattle Times.  
  4. ^ "McGinn: Surprise survivor in race for mayor?". The Seattle Times.  
  5. ^ "Counter Intel: Nickels Is Pro-Neighborhood". The Stranger.  
  6. ^ "Great City is Hiring". Seattle Great City Initiative.  
  7. ^ "Club Clout Helps Turn Tide Against Tainted Transit Tax". Sierra Club.  
  8. ^ "Huge roads-transit plan gets trounced". The Seattle Times.  
  9. ^ a b "Mike McGinn: Grass-roots style paid off in recent campaigns". The Seattle Times..  
  10. ^ "From McGinn's Mouth". Seattle Weekly.  
  11. ^ "City: 'head tax' repeal wouldn't threaten transpo funding". The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  
  12. ^ "McGinn: surprise survivor in race for mayor?". The Seattle Times.  
  13. ^ "McGinn's Campaign: Successfully Underfunded". Seattle Weekly. Tuesday, Oct. 13 2009.  
  14. ^ "Message from the Chamber Chair: Setting the record straight on the Viaduct Replacement Project". Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce.,2952&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL&p_news_id=12711&p_news_current=.  
  15. ^ "Chamber group endorses Constantine, Mallahan". The Seattle Times.  
  16. ^ "Mallahan wins labor endorsement". Seattle Post Globe.  
  17. ^ "Seattle mayor candidates need to bring positions on city issues into sharper focus". Seattle Times.  
  18. ^ "McGinn's no-tunnel campaign is a no-go". The Seattle Times.  
  19. ^ "Mallahan wins labor endorsement". Seattle Post Globe.  
  20. ^ "SGN exclusive interview: Mayoral candidate Mike McGinn". Seattle Gay News.  
  21. ^
  22. ^ Andrew Garber and Emily Heffter. "Prospect of McGinn win left state officials uneasy, e-mails show". Seattle Times.  
  23. ^ "Police union president criticizes McGinn". Seattle Times.  
  24. ^ "Joe Mallahan criticizes Mike McGinn's tunnel poll". The Seattle Times.  
  25. ^ a b "The 'green' mayor? McGinn wants to legalize pot and tax it, too". KOMO News.  
  26. ^ "Mayor-elect McGinn supports legalizing marijuana".  
  27. ^ "McGinn wants light-rail line on Seattle's west side". Seattle Times.  
Political offices
Preceded by
Greg Nickels
Mayor of Seattle
2010 –
Succeeded by

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