Nickels reflects on successes, failures as Seattle mayor



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Posted on November 16, 2009 at 5:38 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 16 at 6:52 PM

SEATTLE – In his first TV interview since the election, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels talks about losing, his failures and what he thinks his legacy will be.

He has only six more weeks in office, but he says when he lost in the primary, it was no surprise.

"No, I wasn't shocked," said Nickels.

Nickels says he sensed on the campaign trail when people just didn't seem to warm to his message of accomplishment.

"I think the underlying issue really is the economy," said Nickels. "When the economy is bad, people are scared. They're angry and that's why things start to resonate. If it's a snowstorm or some other issue that's bugged them, it resonates because of this underlying, almost visceral anger that people have."

The city passed a ban on guns on city-owned property where children are likely to be, but the constitutionality of the ban is in doubt and could turn into a court battle that could cost the city a lot of money.

"You know, if we can save one person, one life, then I think it is absolutely worth it. But we lost a police officer on Halloween night. He was shot with an assault weapon. Why do we have assault weapons? No hunter needs an assault weapon. There is no purpose to that except to take human life," said Nickels.

Enersen: "When you look back what are you proudest of, of the things that you've done as Mayor?"

Nickels: "I think at the top of the list has to be light rail. I've worked on that both as a mayor and county councilman for 22 years now … and I led the effort a year ago to pass an extension north to Lynnwood, south to Federal Way and east to Bellevue out to Redmond.

"So, I know in 14 years there will be a mass transit system that connects 70 percent of the residences to 85 percent of the jobs in metropolitan Seattle.  I'm proud of that."

What about his biggest failure?

"There are a lot of things that I wish we could have, should have done. I look at the schools and that's going to be a huge challenge," said Nickels. "People have to have confidence in the schools. If they are going to live as family in our city."

In the end, Nickels says he's accepted the will of the voters.

"I love the voters of Seattle and this is what? Ten weeks after they have thrown me out of the office. I love them because, in this tough economy they stepped, up and voted to extend light rail. They voted this November to build low-income housing for people without," said Nickels. "The people of Seattle are generous and they are willing to invest in the things they believe in. And the last eight years, there is nothing I would rather have done on this Earth," said Nickels.

Nickels says there is a lot of stress being mayor, and even though he wanted a third term, he can already feel the burdens of the job beginning to lift from his shoulders.