After months of speculation, Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess officially launched his campaign Tuesday to unseat Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.
“I think our city faces significant challenges that call for new leadership -- leadership that can bring people together and get things done,” he told KUOW.
Burgess is a relative newcomer to politics. He was first elected to the City Council in 2007.
But he said his diverse background is one of his strengths. He started his career in the 1960s as a radio journalist, served for seven years as a Seattle police officer, went overseas with a Christian humanitarian organization, and then started an ad agency.
Three years ago, Burgess said, people he knew starting calling him and suggesting that he run for mayor.
At that point, he declined because he was still new to the City Council and still learning the job.
But Burgess said the idea of running for mayor stayed with him.
“I’ve watched how the mayor has performed in office, and I think it’s pretty clear to me and to many, many others that we need new leadership the mayor’s office," he said in an interview.
Burgess declined to say exactly what he thinks McGinn is doing wrong. He said there would be time for that later in the campaign.
But Burgess has butted heads with the mayor over a number of issues, including the city’s controversial deep-bore tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way viaduct. McGinn opposed the building of the tunnel, and made his opposition to it the central focus of his mayoral campaign. Burgess and a majority of the members of the City Council support it.
Burgess has also been critical of the way the mayor has handled the US Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the Seattle Police Department.
Burgess is the second candidate to file in the mayor’s race. Real estate consultant Charlie Staadecker announced in September. Burgess said McGinn could face a “very crowded field” of challengers in 2013.