Mike McGinn’s Graceful Exit: ‘I Always Tried To Do The Right Thing’

Standing at his campaign headquarters, its desks now empty, computer screens darkened, Mayor Mike McGinn this morning delivered a quiet and cordial concession.

“I called Ed Murray this morning and congratulated him on his victory and offered him my support,” the vanquished mayor told representatives from virtually ever media outlet in Seattle. “He put together a very strong campaign, and that is reflected in the vote totals.”

McGinn thanked his city staff, the people he’s worked with the past four years, saying that they are too often taken for granted. “Government is like a shoe. You don’t notice it until it doesn’t fit.”

Dressed smartly in a black suit, white shirt and blue tie, the 53-year-old McGinn added, “I’ve had a great, great job the last four years.”

As far as future plans and whether he may again seek public office, McGinn said, “You know, it was never my career plan to be a politician...I’m sure I’ll be engaged. I’ve always been engaged in public service.”

McGinn, for the most part, brushed off questions about what he might have done differently.

“Sometimes I rub people the wrong way,” he conceded, “but I always tried to do the right thing.”

As to what he thought his legacy might be, McGinn paused for a long moment and finally said, “One thing that is heartening is that if you take a look at Mr. Murray’s agenda, that’s the agenda I ran on four years ago.” He then proceeded to tick off education, building broadband across the city, transit, saying no to coal trains. “My agenda became the agenda of the city (in this campaign.)”

Asked to elaborate on his rubbed people the wrong way admission, McGinn said that early on he made the decision: “Do I stand up for what I think is right and let the chips fall where they may, or do I do the politically expedient thing? … I made the decision that I would let the chips fall where they may.”

The downtown waterfront tunnel, he later added, was a good example. Again, McGinn stressed that “I think it was the right thing to do to raise this question” of whether Seattle taxpayers would be on the hook for any cost overruns.

On the question of what he believed to be his “lowest day in office,” the mayor said it was the day he walked into negotiate with Department of Justice representatives over the hot-button issue of Seattle police reform. “And I was walking in … after my attorney [City Attorney Pete Holmes] had sent a letter to the city council to say that everything I was doing was wrong.”

McGinn brightened when asked to recall his best day. “I don’t know. There are so many. But I’d say it was just the individual interactions with people.”

The mayor then shook hands with several members of the press and left.

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