Council Congestion

Everyone's gunning for Richard Conlin in the 2005 City Council campaign.

If Mayor Greg Nickels lacks opponents, Seattle City Council member Richard Conlin is making up for it. Already three accomplished people have declared their intention to run against the two-term sustainability and neighborhood guru. First, on Jan. 11, the mayor's communications director, Casey Corr, announced his intentions. A week later, King County Council member Dwight Pelz, D-Seattle, declared he would run against Conlin. On Jan. 20, 20-year Seattle Port Commissioner Paige Miller joined the fray.

Last spring, veteran legislator Pelz anticipated the downsizing of the King County Council by deciding to run for City Council. Pelz has political views very similar to Conlin's—he's a big light-rail booster, a monorail critic, and a fan of smart design to promote urban density—but his personality couldn't be more different. While Conlin favors consensus, Pelz is contentious. Pelz is also trying to use South Lake Union development as a wedge issue, arguing that Conlin has been obstructionist. It will be interesting to see if Seattleites respond to Pelz's call to shovel more public money faster for billionaire Paul Allen's development plans.

Miller's critique of Conlin mirrors that of the other two challengers: Conlin's not effective at solving Seattle's big transportation problems. Miller supports Nickels' transportation agenda and has been known to push high-tech development plans at the Port of Seattle that resemble the mayor's plans for South Lake Union. Miller hopes to distinguish herself by touting her accomplishments at the Port, which include the battle to build the third runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. She points out it's not her first crowded race: In 1987, she first won her Port seat in a campaign that featured 10 male opponents. (Miller is the wife of Bruce Johnson, an attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine who has represented and advised Seattle Weekly in various matters.)

There are three other City Council members up for re-election: City Council President and no-nonsense matriarch Jan Drago, genial budget committee chair Richard McIver, and public safety chair and neighborhood lefty Nick Licata. They have not yet drawn strong challengers. Neighborhood activist Mike Thompson, who ran a shoestring campaign two years ago, is going to challenge McIver. Landlord and real-estate broker Robert Rosencrantz also is running, but he hasn't declared an opponent yet.

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