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Originally published January 4, 2010 at 9:53 PM | Page modified January 5, 2010 at 10:37 PM

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New Seattle mayor takes charge; council hires own lobbyist

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn's first working day in the city's top post was marked by a well-attended swearing-in and reception and some behind-the-scenes uncertainty on the part of the City Council.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Inaugural events Saturday

City Hall open house: From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Mayor Mike McGinn, City Attorney Pete Holmes and the Seattle City Council will hold an open house where the public can meet officials, tour offices and speak to representatives from city departments. The mayor will deliver his inaugural speech at 3 p.m. Local musical groups will perform. City Hall is at 600 Fourth Ave.

Inaugural Music Festival: At 8 p.m., there will be a free, all-ages music festival featuring Wheedle's Groove, The Maldives, Hey Marseilles and Gabriel Teodros at Showbox SoDo, 1700 First Ave. S.

Source: Mayor's office

McGinn administration leaders

Phil Fujii, deputy mayor for operations: Formerly an executive with Vulcan, the company that manages Paul Allen's business and philanthropic activities; worked in Seattle city government as a leader in the Department of Neighborhoods; will be paid $125,000.

Darryl Smith, deputy mayor for outreach: Southeast Seattle Realtor and former president of Rainier Chamber of Commerce; will be paid $125,000.

Julie McCoy, chief of staff: Political consultant for McGinn on his mayoral and parks levy campaigns; will be paid $125,000.

Sources: Mayor's office, Seattle Times archives

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Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn's first working day in the city's top post was marked by a well-attended swearing-in and reception and some behind-the-scenes uncertainty on the part of the City Council.

City Council President Richard Conlin said the council is hiring its own lobbyist for the state legislative session, an unusual move that indicates council members are nervous that their views — for example, on a new waterfront tunnel — won't be represented by city lobbyists who work for the new mayor.

Conlin said he believes the lobbyists for the council and executive will be able to work together, but in a short session, it would be too risky not to have a council representative in Olympia. The 60-day session begins Monday.

Council spokeswoman Laura Lockard said the lobbyist, which will cost $15,000, will focus on other transportation projects as well, such as the 520 bridge and Mercer Street work.

McGinn spokesman Mark Matassa said he believes the council and mayor's office have the same goals in Olympia.

"The city has historically spoken with one voice," Matassa said. "We have a lobbying operation down there, and it represents the entire city. ... It's kind of hard to picture what they're lobbying for that's any different."

McGinn's speech Monday echoed the themes of his low-budget campaign: optimism and listening to people. But he made it clear he was focused immediately on the city's economic challenges.

From his new desk on the seventh floor of City Hall, McGinn issued four executive orders before lunch.

All decisions about hiring and contracts will now have to go through McGinn's office. The new mayor also froze executive salaries, which were set to increase by 2 percent this week, and asked department heads to reduce by 200 the number of management and executive-level employees.

The moves were aimed at cutting $750,000 this year and $2 million next year.

"Fiscal reality requires that we begin the process of reducing costs in a deliberative and thoughtful manner," McGinn said in a news release.

Other new elected officials also took oaths Monday: City Attorney Pete Holmes and City Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw and Mike O'Brien. Returning Councilmembers Conlin and Nick Licata also were sworn in. The officeholders took their official oaths before the end of December, but family and friends took part in the ceremony Monday.

McGinn was sworn in by two of his children: Miyo, 12, and Cian, 10.

In a speech to a packed room, the new mayor said that, despite challenges in Seattle, "we believe that if we can work together, we can solve any problem."

He didn't mention the tunnel planned to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, a centerpiece of his campaign and the most notable point of disagreement with the council.

During the campaign, McGinn vowed to stop the tunnel. Later, after the City Council voted 9-0 to move forward with the tunnel, he said he would not try to stop the project, if elected. He did vow to fight a piece of the legislation that puts Seattle on the hook for cost overruns in the tunnel project.

Continuing his campaign practice of trying to be accessible, McGinn plans a town hall and open house this weekend.

He also is hosting a private, $250-per-ticket reception Saturday night to raise money for the inaugural events, including a music festival and City Hall open house Saturday.

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or eheffter@seattletimes.com

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