Ed Murray, architect of Washington’s marriage equality law, doesn’t want to be the “gay Mayor of Seattle.” He wants to be the major who will fix a transportation mess so people don’t spend more than an hour driving across town on a typical afternoon.
With about two months to go before Election Day, Murray talked with KIRO Radio 97.3 FM about his priorities if elected Mayor of Seattle. This is the first of several election profiles of Murray and incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn.
Seattle voters have elected Murray before.
He was chosen for a Washington Senate seat in 2006 that is entirely in Seattle. The 43rd district includes the University District, Montlake, Eastlake, and Capitol Hill neighborhoods. Before serving as a senator, he spent 11 years in the Washington State House of Representatives.
He’s one of six openly gay members of the state legislature who recently married his partner of 22 years Michael Shiosaki. While Murray is best known for championing a series of gay-rights laws, when he looks at Seattle he’s concerned about issues he says are “not very glamorous.”
“It’s the plumbing and it’s making sure that the $2 billion backlog we have right now on street and sidewalk maintenance is fixed and repaired,” Murray tells KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz show. “It’s building a transportation system that actually makes sense, and that there’s an actual plan.”
He says the city currently works on its bike, public transit, car traffic, and pedestrian plans separately which is “why we have such a transportation mess” and that’s part of the reason voters rejected the last transportation package on the ballot.
“We have a transportation plan that’s separate from the bike plan that’s separate from the transit plan and the city has decided not to do a freight plan. We need a single, integrated, transportation plan that shows how we’re going to connect neighborhoods and how we’re going to move through neighborhoods. We need to make those decisions based on the data,” Murray says.
Multiple construction projects – including the tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct – also have Murray calling for the creation of a “war room” for planners.
“What I think we need to do during this huge period of construction throughout the city is create a very high tech war room that can be sure that if we’re going to close down one corridor we have another corridor open so that we can kind of manage the situation during what is a difficult time,” says Murray.
The Seattle mayoral candidate is in favor of raising the minimum wage, but wants to see that done slowly.
“I don’t think you phase it in all at once and I think you exempt small businesses. We need to help employees but at the same time not drive businesses out of Seattle and into the rest of the region.”
One of the more controversial initiatives Seattle leaders came up with recently is creating “Gun Free Zones.” Several dozen businesses have signed up to put stickers in their windows saying guns are not allowed in a program Mayor McGinn announced.
“I think they’re a good idea because it raises the issue of gun safety,” Murray says. “It’s not an issue of people owning guns. There are states where if you’re convicted of domestic violence or there’s a restraining order against you, you can’t have guns. But in Washington state if you’re convicted of domestic violence issues you can keep your gun and I just think that’s wrong.”
Murray also says he “generally” does not support concealed-carry laws.
“I think we’ve reached the point of almost being an armed camp as a nation, there are so many guns,” says Murray. “I don’t know why someone should be allowed to have a concealed gun unless there’s a reason legally for them to have one – they need to protect themselves, or it’s somehow related to their job.”
By LINDA THOMAS