I suppose there are a few ways to look at the election of Seattle’s new mayor, Mike McGinn, at least as to how his election affects the reintroduction of the NBA to the city:
McGinn is, on the surface, less of a supporter of the NBA than his opponent, Joe Mallahan. This fact is troubling to those who support a revamped KeyArena, and McGinn’s left-leaning ways – he’s a former leader at the Sierra Club, he’s a “neighborhood activist,” his campaign was almost all volunteers – certainly don’t reinforce the negative opinions some may have of him.
On the other hand, though, I found one interesting aspect of his campaign that may indicate a willingness on McGinn’s part to be open to the NBA: His complete reversal on the Alaskan Way/Tunnel situation.
In the months after the run-off election, McGinn made considerable noise about his absolute opposition to a tunnel, and repeatedly stated he would oppose the tunnel regardless of what the state said.
Then, on October 19th, McGinn made a complete about-face, saying he would not oppose the tunnel if he was elected.
This, to me, signals one of two things:
1. McGinn is a political opportunist who realized the majority of voters supported the tunnel, and if he wanted to be their mayor, he’d better get on board.
2. McGinn tasted his tunnel soup, found it to be a little bland, and added some more salt. In other words, he looked at both sides of the issue and decided that maybe his opinion wasn’t the best one.
To many observers, McGinn’s flip-flop was a disgrace. How dare he change his mind! the opponents charged, with images of Bill Clinton pulsing in their minds.
To me, though, it was a blessing. Honestly, as someone who doesn’t live in the state, let alone Seattle, the future mayor of the city is really none of my business.
But consider it from this vantage: If you support an issue (oh, I don’t know, say an improved KeyArena), would you rather have as a mayor a man who staked out positions and refused to budge, regardless of what the populace said, or would you rather have as a mayor a man who listened to public opinion and did what he thought his voters thought was best.
I suppose, in a perfect world, our elected officials would do what was right and just, even if opinion was against them, the whole Atticus Finch ideal. And, in the instance of racial injustice or human rights abuses, that would be great. But KeyArena does not resemble one of those scenarios in the slightest. Rather, it is a public works project which, while its economic benefits are arguable, is certainly popular among some portion of the population.
Essentially, the election of Mike McGinn comes down to this point:
For the past half-decade, Seattle has been run by someone who was repeatedly accused of inaction when action was desperately needed. Snow removal, the Sonics leaving … Greg Nickels’ legacy will forever be one of what he didn’t do rather than what he did do. The fact his replacement is an activist?
Well, it certainly can’t hurt.