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Originally published Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 4:44 PM

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Mayoral candidate Drago exaggerates role in tunnel project

Mayoral candidate Jan Drago overstated her role in getting the downtown tunnel approved. If she wants to improve communication between Seattle and Olympia, she should be more accurate about what she actually accomplished.

JAN Drago, Seattle City Council member and mayoral candidate, says her communication skills exceed those of Mayor Greg Nickels. In fact, one of her campaign themes is she would establish better relationships with the Legislature than Nickels.

That's all well and good, except Drago exaggerates her role in certain events. A good example came in a recent news story in which Drago said she was a key player in winning Olympia's support for the downtown tunnel, something the mayor worked on for many years.

Drago did testify on behalf of the tunnel in Olympia and made many phone calls. She twisted a few arms, but legislative leaders do not describe her efforts as major in any way.

State Sen. Ed Murray, prime sponsor of tunnel legislation, said it is a myth that Drago was instrumental in getting the tunnel approved. Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said, "We had little contact with Drago."

Rep. Judy Clibborn, chairwoman of the House Transportation Committee, said Drago's characterization of her efforts overreached.

The governor's office thanked Drago for helping but said Nickels and his staff were more active and instrumental in the effort.

So no big deal, right? It's just lighthearted campaign talk.

Few Seattleites doubt Nickels deserves a stiff challenge for a third term. Fewer dispute the idea that politicians take credit for a variety of things they didn't do.

But Drago's pitch that she will improve relations with state government is diminished when she hypes her own impact.

Good communication relies on offering accurate descriptions. Take credit for what you really accomplished and don't pretend your role was larger than it was.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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