Seattle City Council Member Tim Burgess is stepping down as a mayoral candidate. His disclosure came as the filing deadline loomed for the November election. Burgess said he won’t yet endorse anyone. But he said he’s leaving the race to make it easier for another candidate to unseat incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn.
Burgess was campaigning for mayor as recently as Thursday night. But at that Democratic gathering, Burgess garnered less support than state Senator Ed Murray, former City Council Member Peter Steinbrueck and Mike McGinn.
Burgess said his own campaign seemed to be a long shot. “I think over the last couple of weeks we’ve been reassessing where the campaign was and looking at the field,” he said. “There’s a lot of us running … and that makes things difficult.”
Burgess said there are just too many strong and qualified candidates in this race. “I just concluded that my greatest contribution would be to create a clearer path for someone else, because I definitely faced an uphill challenge,” he said.
Back in November, Burgess declared his candidacy for mayor on KUOW, saying, “It’s very clear to me that we need new leadership in the mayor’s office.” Burgess and McGinn have clashed on city funding priorities, the Sodo arena proposal, and most recently Burgess called for an audit of the city’s Department of Transportation over unspent funds.
Burgess said now he’ll gladly return to his work on the City Council. But his top priority still remains to see McGinn defeated. “I entered this race to defeat Mike McGinn. I do not believe he has been an effective mayor, and we need a change in the mayor’s office,” he said.
Burgess raised more than $230,000. He said he’ll return remaining funds to donors. Local Democratic Party activists were less enthusiastic about his campaign; the King County Democrats declined to endorse him, saying he wasn’t liberal enough. Burgess said he was surprised at their lack of support, since they endorsed his reelection to City Council in 2011. “I can’t explain why they took the action they did,” he said, “but politics is sometimes a funny game.”
Burgess said he doesn’t expect to seek other offices in the future.
His departure from the mayor’s race leaves several candidates. In addition to McGinn, Ed Murray and Peter Steinbrueck, they include Burgess’ fellow City Council Member Bruce Harrell, community activist Kate Martin, real estate developer Charlie Staadecker, and Socialist Workers Party candidate Mary Martin.
There were also last-minute filings from attorney Doug McQuaid and climate change activist Joey Gray.