Mayor Mike McGinn this morning stood in the warm sunshine near a taco stand outside the Beacon Hill light rail station to announce nearly $14 million in neighborhood transportation investments.
Because the economy is on the upswing, said McGinn, more money was now available to pave more streets, build more sidewalks, and repair more bridges.
His reelection campaign moving into high gear, McGinn, looking to mend fences and win back neighborhood activists, many of who supported Peter Steinbrueck in the August primary, appeared earlier in the week with leaders from some 40 Seattle neighborhoods. At that event in Ballard, McGinn said, “As a growing city, we need to remember that we are only strong when our neighborhoods are engaged.”
The Ed Murray campaign, however, is looking to discredit McGinn’s neighborhood credentials. On Tuesday, the day after McGinn’s so called fall campaign kickoff in Ballard, Murray’s spokesman Sandeep Kaushik dispatched to the media an e-mail titled “SEATTLE MAYORAL RACE: the truth about Mayor McGinn’s record of turning his back on Seattle’s neighbors.”
Wrote Kaushik, “Mayor McGinn held a press conference this morning to tout his support for neighborhoods. But his record over the last four years tells the opposite story -- the mayor has disproportionately slashed funding for the Department of Neighborhoods, eliminated neighborhood service centers and slashed the Neighborhood matching fund.”
The Murray campaign e-mail proceeded to list a well-sourced collection of stories on the cuts McGinn made to the city’s Department of Neighborhoods during his first two years in office.
In 2011, as The Seattle Times reported (of which Kaushik included a link to the Jan. 25, 2011 story), McGinn slashed the department’s by 15 percent and closed 6 of its 13 service centers.
Asked about the e-mail today, McGinn told Seattle Weekly, “In 2010, we had to make some deep cuts because of the economy. But now we are back on track and investing in our neighborhoods. We launched the Only in Seattle program,” which promotes a healthy business environment for business organizations and neighborhood business districts.
Bristling at Murray’s attack, McGinn added, “Senator Murray in this campaign is a collection of grumbles and gripes. Some of our problems came from his failure to fund transit, to fund human services, to fund education while he’s been in the Legislature. I mean, he’s been there for eighteen years.”
Meanwhile, McGinn told a small the gathering at the Beacon Hill station that his proposed 2014 budget calls for a 37 percent increase in road maintenance funding over 2010 levels.
“When I took over, we had 9 percent unemployment and we needed to make $100 million cuts in the city budget,” McGinn said.
Statement issued by Murray campaign:
“Another day, another feel good press conference from Mayor McGinn. Despite the announcement of new spending today, Mayor McGinn’s track record on basic safety and maintenance of our crumbling roads and bridges is abysmal. The truth is that over the last four years Seattle’s transportation safety and maintenance backlog has ballooned to nearly $2 billion, and street repairs done by SDOT have plummeted. A few examples: road miles paved have dropped from 29 miles in 2009 to just 16 miles in 2012; new sidewalks built dropped from 26 blocks to 12 blocks, crosswalks restriped have dropped from 810 to 500, the number of regulatory signs replaced have dropped from 8,315 to 2,981, and the list goes on and on. What the mayor announced today is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to addressing the quiet crisis of crumbling infrastructure Seattle is facing under his failed leadership.”