Seattle’s two-term Mayor Greg Nickels conceded defeat at a news conference on Friday. He placed third, behind T-Mobile executive Joe Mallahan and Sierra Club activist Mike McGinn. His candidacy faced a number of challenges, but most reporting focused on Nickels’ controversial plan to replace the earthquake-damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct with a double-deck tunnel:
Perhaps the most surprising of the top two early leaders was Mike McGinn, a neighborhood activist and local Sierra Club leader who built his low-cost campaign around opposition to one of the mayor’s signature accomplishments, an agreement finalized in January to replace the earthquake-damaged freeway. The $4.2 billion plan, approved by the state, would open downtown to Elliott Bay and views of the Olympic Mountains by demolishing the 56-year-old highway, called the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and building a two-deck tunnel. Mr. McGinn, who favors replacing the viaduct with a less expensive surface-level boulevard and expanded transit services, has won support from both fiscal conservatives and environmentalists.
In American politics, it is extremely rare for leaders to be held accountable for megaproject boondoggles. Nobody ever lost their job over Boston Big Dig, or the MTC Bay Bridge East Span replacement project, or the Milbrae BART extension, or the Oakland Airport monorail, etc, etc.
Could this be the start of a trend? Or is it a one-time fluke?