Sound Progress

Research and insights from Puget Sound Sage.

Mayoral Election Analysis: What a Murray Administration Will Mean for Building Communities that Thrive

“Economic opportunity should be the promise of Seattle. Good jobs, equity, fair wages, worker protections, affordable housing and a livable city for the diversity of people who should be able to call Seattle home – these are values I have fought for all my career.”

 – Candidate Ed Murray

The mayor’s race has ended and Mayor-Elect Murray is planning his transition to move into Hizzoner’s chair.  What will a Murray administration mean for issues like equitable development, access to affordable housing, quality jobs for Seattle’s service sector workers, and dependable access to transit?

Although the Murray and McGinn campaigns focused on different areas, progressives in Seattle will have plentiful opportunities to work with the new Mayor’s office.

During his four years in office, Mayor Mike McGinn provided leadership on developing good jobs in the green economy for young workers, promoted a city-wide local hiring policy to help neighborhoods with high unemployment, supported living wages, and opposed selling city property (the legal term is a ‘street vacation’) to developers for use by retailers like Whole Foods that don’t provide living wages and good benefits.

How will Ed Murray be different?  Not much, but a few distinctions remain.

Overall, Murray says he’s committed to “strengthening and protecting the working and middle class,” and “ensuring that Seattle does not become a city where only the very wealthy and the very poor live.” Murray has pledged support for $15 minimum wage for Seattle, phased in first for city employees, fast food and retail workers, and then for most workers “by the end of his first term.” Murray, like McGinn, is also committed to enforcing Seattle’s wage theft and paid sick leave laws.

When it comes to ensuring that communities receive real benefits from development projects, a Murray administration will likely be hesitant to employ some policy tools community groups deem important. In statements this summer, Murray opposed McGinn’s decision to deny a request from Whole Foods for a street vacation for their proposed West Seattle store. Sage, along with many community groups and unions, has found street vacation permits a useful way to get developers to agree to better environmental and labor policies.

Like McGinn, Murray says he supports inclusionary housing policies in growing neighborhoods like South Lake Union. His Economic Opportunity Agenda states that future development should include maximum benefits…including increasing the number of public housing units that developers must provide.”

Under McGinn, the City embraced policies to prevent displacement of immigrant and communities of color from southeast Seattle near light rail development. The City’s Community Cornerstones Project is focusing on supporting immigrant businesses and cultural institutions, along with affordable housing near light rail.  Murray proposes “building a small-business incubator service for assisting new immigrant-led small businesses,” and more affordable housing in general.

All of this means progressives can continue look forward to opportunities to work with the new Mayor’s office on policies that build thriving communities for the next four years.

Author: David West

David West is the Executive Director of Puget Sound Sage. He has over 25 years experience in research, public policy, community organizing, and coalition-building experience. He previously led two local nonprofits, Washington Citizen Action, and the Center for a Changing Workforce. He has a Masters Degree in Public Administration/Public Policy from the Daniel J. Evans School at the University of Washington, and a BA in Economics from the University of Wisconsin.

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