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June 22, 2009 at 11:07 AM

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Hundreds at Westin for Nickels campaign kickoff

Posted by Jim Brunner

UPDATE (11:07 a.m.)

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels' campaign says there were about 450 people at this morning's fundraiser. They hope to raise $50,000 from the event.



MIKE SIEGEL/SEATTLE TIMES

Mayor Greg Nickels

The room was packed with a lot of current and former city employees. Among others, I spotted former City Councilmember Heidi Wills chatting with former City Light Superintendent Gary Zarker. Current City Light chief Jorge Carrasco was on hand too along with former parks Superintendent Ken Bounds. Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin was there too but said he was not endorsing Nickels.

Incidentally, Nickels' comment about sticking around for another "four, eight or 12 years" -- which has got our blog commenters aflame -- was said as a half-joking aside. The comment did get a chuckle from the crowd.

I wouldn't read too much into it. You wouldn't expect the mayor to signal he was a lame duck going into a third term, after all.

On the other hand, Nickels has always liked projecting his mayoralty out for the long term. Even before he got through the primary in 2001, he was talking about running for a third term. Turns out he wasn't joking.

Original post follows:

About 400 people showed up for a fundraiser morning at the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle to kick off Mayor Greg Nickels' campaign for a third term.

Nickels was introduced by Charles Royer -- the last mayor to win a third term.

"We know it's a tough job," Royer said. "We also know you don't get a lot of credit when things go well."

Nickels started off his speech with praise for the hotel workers serving the breakfast of eggs and bacon topped with mushrooms and asparagus. The mayor noted he'd recently been endorsed by the hotel workers union.

Nickels painted a flattering picture of his first two terms. He talked about building Sound Transit's light rail and finally getting an agreement to tear down the "ugly, noisy and dangerous" Alaskan Way Viaduct.

"We've come a long way in those eight years but there is still a lot of work to be done," Nickels said. (Later in the speech, Nickels even hinted a third term might not be enough, referring to work to be done "over the next four years, or eight years, or 12 years."

With polls showing him not very popular, Nickels acknowledged he is in for a tough campaign. "There is an old saying in politics. Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate."

His seven opponents, he said, would be sure to point out his mistakes.

"Let's save them the trouble -- I have (made mistakes)," Nickels said.

"There are a couple weeks in December I wish I could have back," Nickels said, referring to the city's botched response to the major snowstorm.

Nickels said he learned from his mistakes and would make sure "we will be better prepared and the outcome will be very different" the next time the city experienced a major snowstorm.

Nickels talked quite a bit about his "progressive" policies, noting his leadership on global warming -- 956 mayors have now signed up for his pact to cut emissions -- and his early endorsement of Barack Obama.

Nickels joked that he was one of the few Obama endorsers who didn't ask for a job in the administration "because I have the best job in America already."

The mayor closed with a fundraising appeal.

"Today I ask you to have my back, just as I have had Seattle's back for eight years."

The big-name guest, Alaska Sen. Mark Begich -- former mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, is now speaking. We'll have more notes later.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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