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Ed Murray Wants to Be Seattle's First Gay Mayor

The Man Behind Marriage Equality Sets His Sights on City Hall

Ed Murray Wants to Be Seattle's First Gay Mayor

Kelly O

HIS BIG VICTORY Ed Murray, 57, and his partner of more than 20 years, Michael Shiosaki, celebrate marriage equality on election night.

Ed Murray isn't running for Seattle mayor as the gay guy.

"It can work both ways," says Murray, who on Wednesday filed an exploratory committee for his campaign. "If people see me just as the gay candidate, they will vote against me. Even gay people will vote against me. I have to be the gay who did something."

Of course, Murray's résumé is stacked with examples of doing something, having served since 1995 in the state legislature, where he's chaired powerful budget committees in both the house and senate. But there is something momentous about the possibility of electing Murray as the first gay mayor of Seattle. That sort of excitement, and that distinction, could parlay into an advantage in his run against Mayor Mike McGinn and a gang of other likely qualified contenders, including Council Member Tim Burgess, who filed last week.

"If I win, it will be because people know I am a legislator who has been able to accomplish things on civil rights and who gets things done," Murray told The Stranger this week. And where Mayor McGinn is bogged down from years of ill relations with others at City Hall, and Burgess is saddled with a reputation as a moderately conservative tool of downtown business, Murray may see an opening.

His strategy doesn't rely on locking up single constituencies, as McGinn and Burgess hope to do with environmental and business blocs, Murray says, but rather it relies on peeling support away from various factions. "I hope to have business support, but I don't think I'll be the business candidate. I hope to have neighborhood support, but I won't be the person who has all the neighborhoods locked up. I believe some of labor will be supporters of mine, too. I hope to have my own community—the Roman Catholic..." he trails off, laughing. His community is "the gay community," says the Roman Catholic. "But again, they will not vote for me just because I'm gay."

Yet if anyone has the pedigree to be the first gay man to top city hall, it's obviously Murray. He was the architect of Washington State's landmark marriage-equality law this year. His strategy was brilliant: After methodically passing several same-sex domestic-partnership and antidiscrimination laws over the last decade, he stealthily assembled votes for gay marriage from moderate Democrats and even Republicans. By drawing out all those bills piecemeal, Murray also built up—and this is crucial—public support so that voters could ratify the gay-marriage law when conservative Christians challenged it at the ballot.

"I have worked my entire legislative career on big issues," he says. "And they have always been controversial, requiring me to build coalitions with rural conservative Democrats or Republicans to win."

Altogether, Murray's narrative is that of a liberal politician who consistently pulls a reluctant, moderate capital and public along with him to do what was long considered impossible: passing gas taxes to fund major roadwork, weaving in transit funding, and meanwhile marshalling landmark civil rights legislation. That sort of careful, coalition-based politicking to generally progressive ends is, to say the least, lacking in city hall these days. And the promise of Murray as mayor may appeal to voters who want a leader with a reputation as someone who can deftly navigate minefields, unlike Mayor McGinn.

But being a creature of Olympia has its liabilities.

Murray's granular knowledge of civic operations is admittedly sparse. "I haven't spent the last six months studying every city issue in detail," he says. "I have been off working on the marriage campaign."

Murray must also return next month to Olympia, where his caucus elected him as the senate majority leader, to tackle a budget shortfall of nearly $1 billion and to raise that amount again for K–12 public school funding. That sets him up for a long legislative session—one that could drag into spring and even summer, while other competitors are free to campaign and raise money. While the legislature is in session, election law prohibits Murray from fundraising for his mayoral campaign.

"I don't have the Ed Murray machine in place. I wish I hadn't used the word 'machine,'" he catches himself, referencing the union-style boss politics of Chicago in the last century. "We are obviously not going to be able to raise a lot of money."

If Murray plays his cards right, he can secure enough donors before the legislature convenes in six weeks to telegraph a strong campaign (by showing a roll of contributors from business, labor, neighborhoods, and other key constituencies). When the session ends, if it doesn't end too late, Murray will need to launch full-force into the mayor's race before the early August primary.

As evidence that the delay isn't a death knell, Murray points out that Norm Rice was elected as the city's first black mayor in 1989 even though he filed on the last possible day, going on to defeat Doug Jewett, who had been considered the front-runner. "We, as a city, like to coalesce around the safe candidate early," Murray says. "But this is an opportunity for me to talk about why I would be good mayor, what this city should be about, and what the city leadership should be about."

And that presents another question: What does his city leadership look like?

As a legislator, by definition, Murray doesn't have executive experience, and his controversial state stands don't have a direct relationship to the day-to-day managing of the city's departments, its troubled police force, its annual budget, its parks, or its other operations.

McGinn didn't have executive experience, either, and neither does Burgess, Murray points out. And plenty of executives had none before they started. Former mayor Wes Uhlman and Gary Locke, who was a budget chair before going on to be county executive and then governor, also weren't executives until they were elected.

Besides, Murray adds, he's chaired some of the thorniest committees in Olympia. His transportation committee, which oversaw some of the largest highway and transit budgets in state history, had 29 members. His budget committee handled $34 billion and had up to 23 members. "That is more people than are on the city council," Murray says. "So I would argue that I bring expertise on how to write budgets and assist in managing agencies."

"I am not ignorant of city issues," Murray continues. He goes on to explain his perspective on transit, policing, and, most of all, working with Olympia, where Seattle's relations with lawmakers are famously caustic.

"The largest single state investment in any project at one time is in the city of Seattle, replacing the viaduct," says Murray, talking about the state's pledge of $2.8 billion for a deep-bore tunnel, the most controversial city issue in the last decade. The Stranger opposed it outright, but Murray stands by the bill that he sponsored to build it. As mayor, he would work with Olympia and voters to pass a transit package that will mitigate the traffic that doesn't use the tunnel (the tunnel package lacked plans or money for the runoff traffic). He envisions a massive state transit package that relies on the city's legislative delegation and progressive urban voters, whose support will be leveraged for more benefits for everything from light rail and streetcars to bus rapid transit.

"Real bus rapid transit," he says, with dedicated right-of-way for buses through the city, "not what we call bus rapid transit." However, Murray stops short of supporting an accelerated light rail construction schedule funded by Seattle.

As for the police department, which must reform within five years to meet a federal settlement to eradicate patterns of excessive force, that is where Murray could face the biggest challenge.

"Public safety is one of the top if not the top priority for a mayor," Murray says. Would he fire Chief John Diaz? "I would ask for the resignation of all the department heads," Murray says. He would decide after a "stress test" who to retain.

Ultimately, Murray is reluctant to savage McGinn, saying, "This is not about the people who are running; this is not about getting into a pissing match about who is more liberal." But on the cops, he says, "I think the police department needs new leadership, and I think that leadership is a new mayor." recommended

 

Comments (41) RSS

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1
Ed's spent a shitload of City Hall time, especially early on. That was his path until Cal passed away.

When I met him he was on the City of Seattle Commission for Lesbians and Gays, then he was leg. assistant to then-Council Member Martha Choe (now CAO at the Gates Foundation).
Posted by gloomy gus on December 5, 2012 at 10:37 AM · Report this
2
Definite mixed emotions. I think Ed would be a wonderful mayor, but he does such good and important work in Olympia. I worry about filling that void should he win.
Posted by I Got Nuthin' on December 5, 2012 at 10:38 AM · Report this
3
There goes Burgess' play for the Slog with his "exclusive" announcement interview. No doubt The Stranger will pitch over for Murray in a nanosecond.

But Murray has done a crap job on the leadership needed for funding state public education. He doesn't deserve a job here unless he straightens out the constitutional crisis there. As he admits, marriage equality isn't a reason to make him mayor.
Posted by Roses on December 5, 2012 at 10:52 AM · Report this
kitschnsync 4
Now we know who the Stranger will endorse.
Posted by kitschnsync on December 5, 2012 at 11:01 AM · Report this
cressona 5
However, Murray stops short of supporting an accelerated light rail construction schedule funded by Seattle.

I'd like to hear from the different eventual mayoral candidates what Seattle projects they want to see as part of Sound Transit 3, regardless of its timing. I just don't see any project that fits the subarea equity requirement and actually fills a real need like a westside light rail line from Ballard to downtown and going on possibly to West Seattle and White Center. It would be nice to see a candidate be unequivocal in their support of such a long-term vision.

Murray is right about "real bus rapid transit," but to the extent that he uses support for that as an excuse to be weak-kneed on light rail in the long run, I'm skeptical of the guy. And he has a history of being dodgy in his support for transit. Look up Ed Murray and John Stanton for some background.
Posted by cressona on December 5, 2012 at 11:04 AM · Report this
Cornichon 6
re Murray's support for education: actually, he voted to zero-out the state's budget for tourism promotion because (for him) he couldn't fund tourism vs "teacher jobs, teacher salaries." Even so, I was hopeful that he'd bring enlightenment to Olympia. Agree with @2...
Posted by Cornichon http://cornichon.org on December 5, 2012 at 11:07 AM · Report this
pfffter 7
"I would ask for the resignation of all the department heads."

There ya go. Ed's got my vote.
Posted by pfffter on December 5, 2012 at 11:13 AM · Report this
Fnarf 8
I'll vote for a Catholic if I HAVE to, I guess.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on December 5, 2012 at 11:15 AM · Report this
9
Capitol Hill is an echo chamber. If Murray ventures into other parts of the city, he'll get this: Meh.

He's better than Burgess, but he'd be best in Olympia.

Next please.
Posted by gator bait on December 5, 2012 at 11:21 AM · Report this
Looking For a Better Read 10
So I guess we now know why you went so batshit crazy about Albert Shen's op-ed yesterday.
Posted by Looking For a Better Read on December 5, 2012 at 11:23 AM · Report this
DOUG. 11
When was the last time Murray had to campaign competitively? I wouldn't be surprised to see him lose in the primary. He's better than Burgess, but that says nothing.

The only major blemish on McGinn's record as mayor is his handling of SPD, which has been a corrupt organization for decades and won't be fixed overnight.

McGinn deserves four more years.
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on December 5, 2012 at 11:35 AM · Report this
12
Not sure where Seattle will find a Mayor who can get things done in Seattle ... but until we do, I guess it wouldn't hurt to have a Mayor who can get things done in Olympia.
Posted by RonK, Seattle on December 5, 2012 at 11:53 AM · Report this
13
@11, Ed was campaigning competitively about 30 days ago. There was this thing called Ref 74?
Posted by c'mon girlfriend on December 5, 2012 at 11:58 AM · Report this
14
Awesome.
I'm happy to hear this.
He's smart. Savvy. He gets things done.
It's what Seattle has needed for a long time.
Posted by Fire Chief on December 5, 2012 at 12:07 PM · Report this
Cascadian 15
I really worry about losing his effectiveness in the state Senate. And I'm not convinced that his real talent in that body will translate to effectiveness as Mayor.

On the other hand, for him personally I see why this is a good move. He's won his top long-term legislative priority, the Senate is going to be a mess to manage with the balance of power held by conservative Democrats, and if he wants executive experience or any other higher office, this is his only step in that direction.

I wish him well. If I still lived in the city I'd probably vote for him. If he wasn't running, I'd vote for McGinn.
Posted by Cascadian on December 5, 2012 at 12:08 PM · Report this
16


"The Stranger will pitch over for Murray in a nanosecond."

Pitch over, bend-over, reach-around…you name it. It's called 'journalism' afterall.
Posted by Homo-shek-shual voter on December 5, 2012 at 12:46 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 17
Not happy about him leaving Olympia especially at this point.

And the problem with him being Mayor? I am oddly not that excited about him being mayor. He'd be better than the last three we have had...I think.

But shit, years ago people were thinking Nickels would be outstanding (compared to Mark Sidran...THERE'S a name we haven't said on Slog in a while huh?) and the same with McGinn.

I think Murray would be another person who in two years we will hate as being ineffectual in City Hall
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on December 5, 2012 at 12:57 PM · Report this
DOUG. 18
@13: Campaigning for a single issue is totally different than campaigning for an elected position, where being well-versed on a myriad of issues is necessary (ask Joe Mallahan).
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on December 5, 2012 at 1:56 PM · Report this
19
The first candidate to state they are all in for a subway for Seattle, I will vote for in a heartbeat!
Posted by Redhots on December 5, 2012 at 2:21 PM · Report this
seandr 20
@11: The only major blemish on McGinn's record as mayor is his handling of SPD

There was also his campaign lie about not obstructing the tunnel, followed by his attempts to obstruct the tunnel using the lame passive aggressive tactic of not signing procedural documents, followed by his histrionic and completely misinformed shrieks of "Constitutional Crisis!!" when Conlin signed in proxy.

And let's not forget his unprecedented ability to alienate every other leader in the region besides the police chief, and his inability to work with those who's viewpoints don't precisely overlap with his own.
Posted by seandr on December 5, 2012 at 2:22 PM · Report this
seandr 21
@18: Campaigning for a single issue is totally different than campaigning for an elected position

Did McGinn campaign on anything other than the tunnel.

To be fair, my wife called in a pothole in our alley on Sunday, and the city had it patched up 3 hours later. On a Sunday. In any alley. I still can't believe it.
Posted by seandr on December 5, 2012 at 2:25 PM · Report this
22
Isn't Seattle already fully homosexualized?
Posted by Poofta Boy on December 5, 2012 at 2:35 PM · Report this
23
That's terrible. We need him in Olympia. He and Chopp are the leaders against the Republican starve-government hordes. I don't know who would take his place.
Posted by sarah70 on December 5, 2012 at 2:37 PM · Report this
DOUG. 24
@21: Yes, but you wouldn't think so if all you paid attention to was local TV "news" and the Seattle Times. Did you watch the mayoral debates?

Frankly if you think that McGinn ran only as the "anti-tunnel candidate", then shouldn't his victory have been viewed as referendum on the tunnel? Clearly it was not.
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on December 5, 2012 at 3:04 PM · Report this
25
The fact that the balance of power would be held by conservative Dems in the Senate is because Murray gave them that power. I was wondering why he did that but I figured he thought they'd be easier to deal with if they were inside the tent rather than outside. Now I wonder even more, since he doesn't intend to be in the tent leading them.
Posted by sarah70 on December 5, 2012 at 3:25 PM · Report this
26
Another qualified candidate enters the race. This should be interesting. Oh, and who the hell cares if he is gay. I care about a candidate's sexual preference just about as much as I do an artist's. Just do your job and I'll be happy. Who you screw (or want to screw) on your own time is not my concern.

Back to the nitty-gritty: part of a mayors job is to interact with the various other (bigger) agencies (the county, state and U. S. government). I don't think McGinn has done so well. Murray could do really well with the state (although who knows?) but I would think that Ron Sims (if he enters the race) could build bridges much better than just about anyone.
Posted by Ross on December 5, 2012 at 3:33 PM · Report this
Baconcat 27
Yeah, I'm on board with Sims if he jumps in.
Posted by Baconcat on December 5, 2012 at 3:46 PM · Report this
28
Ross you dolt Sims was a pleasant face on a crap job performace. Constantine has spent his whole time in office actually making the trains run on time again.

Sims is a nice fellow but would be a disaster at the helm here in Seattle.
Posted by gator bait on December 5, 2012 at 4:12 PM · Report this
29
So I guess we should ask Ed if he intends to be the "gay mayor" like McGinn is the "bike mayor" and if Ed will support further SoDo arena development (there's still a lot of votes, that whole issue with securing a team, and the likelihood of the nitty-gritty being revised from what is understood in the MOU now to something even more favorable to Hansen). If Hansen and Ballmer can't secure a team under the current MOU's terms and it's running close to the 5 year deadline... will Murry tell them to take a hike or renegotiate things ?
Posted by ChefJoe on December 5, 2012 at 6:33 PM · Report this
seandr 30
@24: He won because a) his opponent was Joe Mallahn, and b) because he promised at the last minute that he wouldn't obstruct the tunnel.

With Burgess and Murray in the race, McGinn won't even get 10% of the primary votes.
Posted by seandr on December 5, 2012 at 7:04 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 31
I'm really surprised. I didn't think he'd be interested in the job of Seattle Mayor after so long in the state legislature.

That said, he immediately becomes my favorite candidate. Waaaayyyy better than Tim Burgess. And Ed would play much better with other regional and state officials than McGinn ever did.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on December 5, 2012 at 8:27 PM · Report this
32
Seems like he did quite a bit, but the FLASHY headline threw me off. The Stranger did him no justice on it. Even as I read on and realized he did some great things at State, I just could not turn off now knowing his sexual preference. Stranger you should know better, the residents of Seattle do not care what his or anyone elses sexual preference is. It is rather annoying that you feel it is important to mention his or anyones preference as a milestone.
Posted by screen name screen name on December 5, 2012 at 10:57 PM · Report this
Texas10R 33
He (likely mayoral candidate Ed Murray) envisions...streetcars

STREETCARS!?! They were great until we ripped out the tracks to make space for SOVs. Center-lane street-level electric streetcars no longer make volume ridership sense and no longer make budgetary sense. Sure they're cute and retro cool, but street pavement is too scarce, and street cars are not flexible nor versatile enough for Seattle streets.
Posted by Texas10R on December 6, 2012 at 8:03 AM · Report this
34
Kshama Sawant,of the Socialist Alternative Party,got thirty percent of the vote for Forty-Third Legislative District;with the voting system Seattle has for the mayer's seat,she would win because all the bourgeois candidates would divide the remaining votes amongst themselves!(Plurality voting,anybody?----- http://www.votesawant.org
Posted by 5th Columnist on December 6, 2012 at 11:47 AM · Report this
35
Kshama Sawant,of the Socialist Alternative Party,got thirty percent of the vote for Forty-Third Legislative District;with the voting system Seattle has for the mayer's seat,she would win because all the bourgeois candidates would divide the remaining votes amongst themselves!(Plurality voting,anybody?----- http://votesawant.org
Posted by 5th Columnist on December 6, 2012 at 11:48 AM · Report this
36
I like Ed Murray but he's going to have to liven it up a bit. He was interviewed on KIRO this morning and...snore....what a lackluster, no-energy performance. Whew. Bad.
Posted by tacomagirl on December 6, 2012 at 1:49 PM · Report this
37
Go, Ed, go!!
Posted by auntie grizelda on December 6, 2012 at 10:55 PM · Report this
38
Where, oh where, is Mark Sidran when we NEED him?
Posted by cbbear on December 7, 2012 at 8:34 AM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 39
Mike McGinn is a good mayor. If he ran for Tacoma City Council (which votes for the mayor in T-town), I would vote for him, and then help campaign to the other city council members to elevate him to Mayor of Tacoma.

the Seattle City Council has not cooperated with McGinn for reasons that mystify me. He's a friend of Labor, the environment, the GLBT community, he supported 50, 74 and 71. He was right about the tunnel, and how the funds wasted on a deep-bore environmental disaster would be better spent on public transit. He's correct about bicycle lanes, too.

It would be nice to have Ed Murray as the mayor of Seattle. I say this because Ed is just as competent and correct on all the issues as McGinn is. I also acknowledge that having an openly gay mayor of a city the size of Seattle would be a great stride forward for the GLBT community, both on a national and state-wide basis. It would also set Ed up nicely for a gubernatorial run, which would be even better for the GLBT community. It would give Ed executive experience at the state's largest city, a nice thing to have in the campaign blurb in the voters pamphlet next to his picture.

Mike McGinn's only problem is that the city council hates him. this is manifestly unfair, and if you don't want him up there, send him to Tacoma. There's an opening on the city council now that Jake Fey has been elected to the state legislature. he can serve there until Mayor Strickland steps down and then we'll make him the Destiny City's next mayor.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on December 9, 2012 at 9:47 PM · Report this
Tacoma Traveler 40
Mike McGinn is a good mayor. If he ran for Tacoma City Council (which votes for the mayor in T-town), I would vote for him, and then help campaign to the other city council members to elevate him to Mayor of Tacoma.

the Seattle City Council has not cooperated with McGinn for reasons that mystify me. He's a friend of Labor, the environment, the GLBT community, he supported 502, 74 and 71. He was right about the tunnel, and how the funds wasted on a deep-bore environmental disaster would be better spent on public transit. He's correct about bicycle lanes, too.

It would be nice to have Ed Murray as the mayor of Seattle. I say this because Ed is just as competent and correct on all the issues as McGinn is. I also acknowledge that having an openly gay mayor of a city the size of Seattle would be a great stride forward for the GLBT community, both on a national and state-wide basis. It would also set Ed up nicely for a gubernatorial run, which would be even better for the GLBT community. It would give Ed executive experience at the state's largest city, a nice thing to have in the campaign blurb in the voters pamphlet next to his picture.

Mike McGinn's only problem is that the city council hates him. This is manifestly unfair, and if you don't want him up there, send him to Tacoma. There's an opening on the city council now that Jake Fey has been elected to the state legislature. he can serve there until Mayor Strickland steps down and then we'll make him the Destiny City's next mayor.
Posted by Tacoma Traveler on December 9, 2012 at 9:48 PM · Report this
41
Will the Stranger Election Control Board endorse the Socialist Alternative Party's City-Council and Mayeral candidates like they did Kshama Sawant for the Forty-third Legislative District?----- http://votesawant.org
Posted by 5th Columnist on December 21, 2012 at 11:33 AM · Report this

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