Seattle Mayoral Race: The vision thing

Rosalind Brazel / August 28, 2013

By Alex Fryer

Alki BathhouseThe campaigns for Seattle mayor traditionally wrestle with the “vision” question. What, exactly, will a candidate promise? Is it thematic and over-arching, such as making Seattle carbon-neutral or building a city that matches the progressive vision of ourselves? Or is small bore, such as then-candidate Greg Nickels’ pledge to station tow trucks on area bridges to quickly remove potential bottlenecks? The vision question seems sorely unanswered in the current contest, which has centered mainly about style.

Let me offer this personal story. Over the weekend, my daughter and I walked to Alki beach from our West Seattle neighborhood.  Being 7 years old, she of course, had to use the restroom. We went to the Alki Bathhouse, and I sent her to the ladies room. She came out a minute later: there was no toilet paper. I took her to the men’s room. Same deal. No matter, there was another public facility about 100 yards away. We waited for a few minutes before the door opened and a mom and her three kids emerged.  She just shook her head. One look at the deplorable conditions told the story. A nearby restaurant was kind enough to allow my daughter to use its bathroom.

Alki is not some far away outpost. It’s one of the region’s biggest tourist draws located in the largest neighborhood in Seattle. Do we not pay enough taxes to support basic infrastructure? (And by basic, I really mean basic). Is it a matter of priorities? Maybe it’s really a question about vision.  And maybe it’s time we talked about focus.