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Seattle Voters' Guide

Candidate Bios

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Photo Credit: Courtesy McGinn campaign

Mike McGinn - Seattle mayor

The most contentious issue in this mayoral race is that damn tunnel -- the $4.2 billion plan to replace the tottering Alaskan Way Viaduct with a "deep-bore" underground alternative. McGinn is against it. He says it costs too much and encourages too much driving, and he would rather use the money for buses, to widen I-5 and to improve surface streets (though it's not clear state money can be divvied up that way). McGinn's pledge to fight the tunnel if elected became moot on Oct. 19 when the City Council unanimously agreed to move ahead with the plan and the candidate said he'd uphold it if he becomes mayor.

McGinn has waged a Green populist campaign tailored for Seattle. The Stranger gushed over McGinn, praising his plan to expand light rail to Ballard and West Seattle, to speed up appointment of a new police chief and help neighborhoods build parks.

Publicola was equally effusive, saying McGinn's background as a community activist, Sierra Club chair and attorney is well suited to "catapult the city in the right direction."

But then there's that little issue of robocalls accusing Joe Mallahan of siding with the National Rifle Association because he questioned whether Mayor Nickels' new ban on guns in city parks was a wise approach. That ban is already in the scopes of litigious Second Amendment activists and could end up being a costly court case.

AGE: 49 years old

PLACE OF BIRTH: Long Island, NY

EDUCATION: Williams College, BA 1982; Univ. Washington, JD 1992

EMPLOYMENT: Seattle Great City Initiative, 2006-09; Sierra Club Leader, 1995-present; attorney Stokes Lawrence, 1993-2006

PRIOR ELECTED OFFICE: None

CURRENT NEIGHBORHOOD: Greenwood

FAMILY: Married (Peggy), 3 children

POLITICAL AFFILIATION: Democrat

WEB SITE: McGinn for Mayor

Photo Credit: Courtesy Mallahan campaign

Joe Mallahan - Seattle mayor

First off, Mallahan, like McGinn, has never held public office. Second, Mallahan is a proponent of replacing the Viaduct with a four-lane tunnel and developing a waterfront promenade.

Mallahan is the less-Green, more mainstream candidate who has a spotty personal voting record and irks some progressives because of his long association with telecommunications giant T-Mobile, where he is a vice president. He also contributed $230,000 of his own money to his campaign. Voters who think the city will be better off with a business guy, will lean toward Mallahan. Voters attracted to a grass-roots community activist, lean toward McGinn.

Largely because of his support of the tunnel, Mallahan picked up the endorsement of Gov. Christine Gregoire, who said "Seattle's next mayor needs to be someone who understands that rebuilding Seattle's economy and creating family-wage jobs must be the top priority of their administration."

DATE OF BIRTH: March 8, 1963

PLACE OF BIRTH: Everett, WA

EDUCATION: Catholic Univ., BA 1985; Univ. Washington, MA 1990; Univ. Chicago, MBA 1993

EMPLOYMENT: Century Supply Co. 1995-97; VP T-Mobile, 2000-present

PRIOR ELECTED OFFICE: None

CURRENT NEIGHBORHOOD: Wallingford

FAMILY: Married (Carolyn), two daughters

POLITICAL AFFILIATION: Democrat

WEB SITE: Mallahan for Mayor

Courtesy Hutchison campaign

Susan Hutchison - King County executive

A political novice and former TV news anchor, Hutchison picked up the endorsement of The Seattle Times, which said that as an outsider she'll be able to run the county like a private-sector business, cutting jobs and reducing benefits to tackle a $56 million gap in the general fund by 2010. Constantine, The Times contends, will be hamstrung by his union endorsements and therefore won't assertively address labor contracts in order to close the budget gap.

Hutchison's campaign says she's non-partisan, but her personal campaign donations in 2008 and 2006 and 2004 suggest otherwise. The Stranger, which trashed her in its endorsement of Constantine, called Hutchison a "Northwest version of Grover 'Cut government down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub' Norquist."

One thing to keep in mind about the County Exec job -- whoever is elected will be in charge of a multimillion dollar bureaucracy with about 14,000 employees. Neither Hutchison nor Dow Constantine have had that experience.

DATE OF BIRTH: March 24, 1954

PLACE OF BIRTH: Travis Air Force Base, Fairfield, CA

EDUCATION: Univ. Florida, BA 1976

EMPLOYMENT: Sportscaster, anchor KITV 1978-81; anchor KIRO-TV 1981-93, 95-2002; Charles Simonyi Fund

PRIOR ELECTED OFFICE: None

CURRENT NEIGHBORHOOD: Laurelhurst

FAMILY: Married (Andy), 2 sons

POLITICAL AFFILIATION: Non-partisan

WEB SITE: Hutchison for County Exec

Courtesy Constantine campaign

Dow Constantine - King County executive

Besides an endorsement from The Stranger, Constantine is the pick of Publicola, which calls him a "stalwart progressive on the environment, transportation, the economy, and civil rights."

In his nearly eight years as a council member, Constantine has generally gotten high marks for fiscal responsibility, though his opponent, Susan Hutchison, says Constantine is a political insider with a propensity for over spending.

Hutchison says the county's budget is in dire straits because of Constantine's lack of fiscal discipline. In fact, King County's financial condition is bad ... so bad that 300-plus jobs may have to be cut, parks closed, bus fares raised and animal shelters shuttered. Is Constantine to blame for all of that?

DATE OF BIRTH: Nov. 15, 1961

PLACE OF BIRTH: Seattle

EDUCATION: Univ. Washington, BA, 1985, MA 1989, JD 1992

EMPLOYMENT: King County Council 2002-present; State Senator 2000-01; State Rep. 1997-2000

PRIOR ELECTED OFFICE: See employment above

CURRENT NEIGHBORHOOD: West Seattle

FAMILY: Single

POLITICAL AFFILIATION: Democrat

WEB SITE: Constantine for County Exec

Courtesy Seattle.gov

Richard Conlin - City Council No. 2

Conlin is a three term City Council member and the current council president. Publicola, in its endorsement, says he has been an active and successful proponent of increasing neighborhood density, architecting levies to finance libraries and community centers, and spearheading environment initiatives.

Conlin's opponent, David Ginsberg, is a political newcomer whose main gripe with Conlin is that the council veteran needs to speed things up. That may be true, but other than that, the two seem to be on the same page on most issues.

Conlin received endorsements from The Seattle Times, The Stranger, The Sierra Club and a lot of unions.

DATE OF BIRTH: May 1, 1947

PLACE OF BIRTH: Washington DC

EDUCATION: Michigan State, BA 1968, MA 1971;

EMPLOYMENT: Seattle City Council, 1997-present; YMCA 1985-96;

PRIOR ELECTED OFFICE: Seattle City Council 1997-present; Ingham County (Michigan) Commissioner, 1977-80;

CURRENT NEIGHBORHOOD: Madrona

FAMILY: Married (Sue Ann), 3 children

POLITICAL AFFILIATION: Democrat

WEB SITE: Conlin for City Council

Courtesy Ginsberg campaign

David Ginsberg - City Council No. 2

Ginsberg -- who has never held public office -- agrees with Richard Conlin on most issues. "The differences I have with Richard are over the pace at which we need to be making changes," Ginsberg told Publicola.

Ginsberg says that his "number one priority has to be to improve the business climate and make sure that we can create a job growing economy again." He advocates community re-investment, affordable neighborhood development and the creation of sustainable transportation solutions.

Like Conlin, Ginsberg initially wanted a surface solution for the viaduct replacement but now that a tunnel is in the works, he wants to stick with it. On tent cities for the homeless, Ginsberg believes they are only interim solutions but the camps should not be forced to move constantly.

DATE OF BIRTH: Oct. 29, 1964

PLACE OF BIRTH: Lynnwood, WA

EDUCATION: USC, BA 1989; Evergreen 1996

EMPLOYMENT: Washington Mutual 2003-09;

PRIOR ELECTED OFFICE: None

CURRENT NEIGHBORHOOD: West Seattle

FAMILY: Partner (Mike), 2 children

POLITICAL AFFILIATION: Democrat

WEB SITE: Ginsberg for Seattle

Courtesy Bagshaw campaign

Sally Bagshaw - City Council No. 4

If the August primary is any indication, Bagshaw has this one in the bag. She captured 51 percent of the vote to her opponent, David Bloom's 18 percent. She has also raised more than $200,000 -- twice as much as Bloom.

Bagshaw comes with more than 30 years experience as a lawyer who worked as a state assistant attorney general; head of the legal department for the Metro transit and sewer system; and as a King County prosecuting attorney overseeing Metro, real property and natural resources. She also held elected office on the Lake Forest Park City Council.

Bagshaw was endorsed by the Seattle Times and The Stranger.

DATE OF BIRTH: Feb. 15, 1951

PLACE OF BIRTH: Portland, OR.

EDUCATION: Stanford, BA 1973; Univ. Idaho, JD 1976

EMPLOYMENT: King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, 1994-2007; Metro Legal Staff, 1992-2004; Minority and Women's Business Enterprise, 1983-92; Asst. Attorney General State of Wash., 1976-83

PRIOR ELECTED OFFICE: City Council, Lake Forest Park

CURRENT NEIGHBORHOOD: Downtown

FAMILY: Married, 2 sons

POLITICAL AFFILIATION: Democrat

WEB SITE: Bagshaw for Council

Courtesy Bloom campaign

David Bloom - City Council No. 4

Bloom, a retired minister, has a long and distinguished career as a community and social justice advocate who, if elected, would bring a sharper focus on developing affordable housing and fixing roads. He's been an activist in Seattle since the 1970s when he co-founded a housing organization for the homeless and worked with a group that serves disabled adults.

Bloom says that he would advocate for 5,000 additional affordable housing units beyond what's in the housing levy on the ballot. Bloom says that the city's priorities should be shifted from big projects to initiatives that will benefit working-class Seattle families.

DATE OF BIRTH: April 21, 1942

PLACE OF BIRTH: Albert Lea, MN

EDUCATION: Macalester, BA 1965; American Baptist Seminary of the West, M.Div.1969; Princeton Theological Seminary, Th.M. 1971

EMPLOYMENT: Pastoral Ministry 1969-77; Church Council of Greater Seattle 1978-97; Interfaith Community Ministry,1997-98; Real Change newspaper 2000-03; Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness 2000-04; Antioch Univ. 2004-08; Rauschenbusch Center 2001-06

PRIOR ELECTED OFFICE: None

CURRENT NEIGHBORHOOD: Laurelhurst

FAMILY: Single

POLITICAL AFFILIATION: Democrat

WEB SITE: Bloom for Council

Courtesy Seattle.gov

Nick Licata - City Council No. 6

Licata is a three term incumbent, who last time around captured 75 percent of the vote. He's popular, sometimes controversial and facing a feisty opponent in Jessie Israel.

Licata, however, is the guy getting the endorsements -- The Stranger, The Seattle Times and Publicola -- because he has a strong record of getting things done, saving money and improving transparency in city government. As for his reputation as a "NO" voter, Licata has famously opposed the South Lake Union Street Car ($30 million), subsidies for Paul Allen developments and the Mercer project ... read all about those in Publicola.

DATE OF BIRTH: Not available

PLACE OF BIRTH: Not available

EDUCATION: Bowling Green, BA, 1969; Univ. Washington, MA 1973

EMPLOYMENT: Seattle City Council, 1997-present; Insurance Broker Sprague Israel Giles, 1981-97;

PRIOR ELECTED OFFICE: Seattle City Council, 1997-present

CURRENT NEIGHBORHOOD: Not available

FAMILY: Not available

POLITICAL AFFILIATION: Democratic

WEB SITE: Re-elect Licata

Courtesy Israel campaign

Jessie Israel - City Council No. 6

Israel has tried to paint her opponent, Nick Licata, as an obstructionist -- a contrarian who says "no" a lot. Licata counters that he is the voice of skepticism, well needed skepticism, and that he points out flaws and tries to correct them.

For her part, Israel is an active community organizer who is well versed in developing public-private partnerships. Though The Stranger and Publicola endorsements have gone to Licata, Israel has clearly scored points with a broad spectrum of pundits and voters.

The Seattle Times decided to endorse both Israel and Licata, praising Israel for her proposals on public safety and transportation. "She has a holistic view of the city and clear understanding of the issues," it wrote.

DATE OF BIRTH: Feb 8, 1974

PLACE OF BIRTH: Long Beach, CA

EDUCATION: Seattle University, BA

EMPLOYMENT: King County Parks, Business Development & Partnerships (current); Center for Women & Democracy; Peace Corps, Africa

PRIOR ELECTED OFFICE: None

CURRENT NEIGHBORHOOD: Ballard

FAMILY: Single

POLITICAL AFFILIATION: Democrat

WEB SITE: Jessie for Seattle

Courtesy Rosencrantz campaign

Robert Rosencrantz - City Council No. 8

Rosencrantz has been down this road -- running for city council -- two times before. This time his eye is on the seat of retiring councilmember Richard McIver.

Rosencrantz is the more conservative candidate for the seat and the guy who the Seattle Times endorsed, inexplicably saying that "candidates who want the job that badly become high-quality legislators." Huh? Perennial candidates are no indication of skill. Still, The Times might have a point about Rosencrantz's opponent, Mike O'Brien, who may very well be over the top with his green idealism. O'Brien wants to put tolls on city streets and hasn't adequately explained how that would work.

Rosencrantz, who is a real estate landlord, says he has worked to create affordable housing options for low- and middle-income families. At best, he's elusive about his support of light rail and ambiguous about how he'd handle panhandlers.

DATE OF BIRTH: October 1955

PLACE OF BIRTH: Kansas City, MO.

EDUCATION: Univ. Washington BA, 1978

EMPLOYMENT: Rose Properties, 1997-present; Northwest Assoc. Housing Affordability, 2004; King County Housing Authority, 2000-03; Cain & Scott, 1987-97; Coldwell Banker, 1984-87; Häagen-Dazs, 1981 – 1983

PRIOR ELECTED OFFICE: None

CURRENT NEIGHBORHOOD: Montlake

FAMILY: Married (Terry), 4 children

POLITICAL AFFILIATION: Democrat

WEB SITE: Rosencrantz for Council

Courtesy O'Brien campaign

Mike O'Brien - City Council No. 8

The Seattle Times calls O'Brien "plenty smart," but "a little too green, even for Seattle." The Stranger, on the other hand, endorsed O'Brien, admitting that as much as they like the guy, they fear his opponent, Robert Rosencrantz, a real estate landlord who they call "disconcertingly conservative."

O'Brien is a former CFO of a law firm who was a chapter chairman of the Sierra Club. He's against the tunnel and wants to impose street tolls to manage congestion, though he says he does not have a toll proposal. "I would like to shift our transportation funding toward user fees," he told Publicola. O'Brien is running on a platform in favor of increasing city density and assertive funding of transportation options. "... his approaches to building a dense city and funding transit represent the vision Seattle needs," The Stranger says.

He also picked up a glowing Publicola endorsement: "We think Mike O’Brien is one of the most inspiring candidates we’ve seen in a very long time."

DATE OF BIRTH: March 2, 1968

PLACE OF BIRTH: Seattle

EDUCATION: Duke, BA; Univ. Washington, MBA

EMPLOYMENT: CFO Stokes Lawrence

PRIOR ELECTED OFFICE: None

CURRENT NEIGHBORHOOD: Fremont

FAMILY: Married (Julie), 2 sons

POLITICAL AFFILIATION: Democrat

WEB SITE: O'Brien for Seattle

Courtesy Holmes campaign

Pete Holmes - City attorney

Holmes is the choice of The Stranger and The Seattle Times, and has been endorsed by Nick Licata, former council member Peter Steinbrueck and State Senator Ed Murray.

After years as an attorney in private practice, the City Council appointed Holmes to serve on the Seattle Police Department’s first Office of Professional Accountability Review Board, which he chaired from 2003 to 2008. He built a reputation for increasing transparency in the police force.

The Stranger called Holmes an "experienced civil litigator and an advocate of the idea that the city attorney should represent the people of Seattle rather than representing some self-serving interpretation of the city's best interests (which is how Carr operates)." The Stranger also pointed out that "Holmes has promised not to prosecute one more person charged inside the Seattle city limits with simple marijuana possession."

DATE OF BIRTH: March 21, 1956

PLACE OF BIRTH: Buckingham County, Virginia

EDUCATION: Yale, BA 1978; Univ. Virginia, JD 1984

EMPLOYMENT: Crocker Kuno, 2009-present; City of Seattle, Office of Professional Accountability Review Board, 2002-08; Miller Nash, 1991-2001; Culp, Guterson & Grader, 1988-91; Cable, Langenbach, 1985-88; Porter, Wright, 1984-85; Natural Resources Defense Council, 1978-81

PRIOR ELECTED OFFICE: None

CURRENT NEIGHBORHOOD: Seward Park

FAMILY: Married (Ann), 2 children

POLITICAL AFFILIATION: Democrat

WEB SITE: Holmes for Seattle

Courtesy Carr campaign

Tom Carr - City attorney

Here's an endorsement dichotomy. The Stranger absolutely shredded two term incumbent Tom Carr while Publicola gave him the thumbs up. Oddly, both publications were equally critical of Carr's pet project, Operation Sobering Thought, a crackdown on bars that Publicola called "needlessly aggressive and may have violated bar employees’ civil rights." The Stranger, it must be said, was less kind.

For voters the question is can see beyond Carr's many blunders ... or, more accurately, do they even know anything about city attorney and the job he's been doing? After all, few voters even know the name of the city attorney.

Ok, so here's one of Carr's accomplishments: he developed an innovative approach to reduce jail time for petty criminals by starting a community court. There are more ... like his aggressive approach toward domestic violence and his "drug market initiative," which creates an alternative to jail for small-time dealers.

DATE OF BIRTH: Feb. 9, 1957

PLACE OF BIRTH: New York

EDUCATION: St. John's, BA 1979; New York Law School, JD 1984

EMPLOYMENT: Seattle City Attorney, 2001-present; Barrett Gilman Ziker, 1991-2001; Office of US Attorney Eastern District NY, 1987-1990

PRIOR ELECTED OFFICE: Seattle City Attorney, 2001-present

CURRENT NEIGHBORHOOD: West Seattle

FAMILY: Married (Therese), 2 sons

POLITICAL AFFILIATION: Not Available

WEB SITE: Carr for City Attorney

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