Civic duty is in the blood

This is the third part of Chantelle Lusebrink's continuing series in the North Seattle Herald-Outlook that introduces the North End candidates in this year's elections.

For 20 years Casey Corr worked as a civically minded journalist covering issues such as education, taxes and public policy, often giving a voice to people largely ignored by city government.

Ending his tenure as a journalist in late 2000 during the strike at The Seattle Times, Corr took a position with Mayor Greg Nickels, as the director of mayoral communications.

Realizing his own long-term goal, however, Corr set out in early January to step into the political arena himself. He declared his candidacy for Seattle City Council against seven-year incumbent Richard Conlin, despite the criticism of some about his ties to Nickels and his policies.

"My passion has always been Seattle.... It is a city that is deep in my family, and my family is deep in it."

'Passion for the city'

As Irish immigrants, Corr's family first arrived in Seattle nearly 100 years ago, contributing to civic life in a variety of ways. His father, Eugene, served as assistant chief of police in Seattle, while his mother, Kathleen, was a registered nurse who was active in voters' leagues.

"I learned from my parents that values and passion for the city make a big difference," Corr said.

Today, Corr resides in Laurelhurst with his wife, Sally Tonkin, a photographer and teacher at Shorewood High School, and their two children, Even and Michaela. He hopes to continue the family legacy and make a difference in the way Seattle is run.

"He has integrity," said friend Janet Wainwright, owner of a public-relations company. "He can listen to diverse opinions, and despite his personal beliefs, he will be honest and straight-forward."

As the summer campaign season wore on, however, Corr turned his sights in early July from council-member Conlin, whom Corr described as a "ditherer" on the City Council, to council president Jan Drago instead.

With respect to his new campaign to take on Drago, who has been on the council since 1994, Corr stated that "her failure to perform on the monorail project" crystallized his decision to switch races: "Jan failed in public trust. Richard [Conlin] was right to raise questions about the project, and Jan ignored them."

In a press release, however, Drago countered Corr's claims: "I am proud of my record on big issues like the revitalization of Downtown Seattle, and small victories like dog parks and p-patches. It all adds up to a strong record and real accomplishments."

His agenda

As he moves his career from journalist to politician, Corr said that he will bring an understanding of the mayor's office to the City Council if elected, but he discounts any claims that his campaign was directed to influence the council in support of the mayor and his policies.

"This campaign is about what I want to do in the city, my ideas, my energy and the leadership I would bring," he stated.

Under Nickels, Corr worked to raise public awareness concerning the safety of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, educating and rallying community groups and government bodies, such as the council and the Legislature. These efforts were key in helping to promote the new gas tax to provide $2 billion over the next several years to help replace the structure, he said.

Additionally, Corr sees strong economic recovery opportunities in areas such as South Lake Union, where the council and the city have an opportunity, he says, to create thousands of jobs.

One of the most pressing issues facing Seattle, according to Corr, is the current economic crisis in Seattle schools. During his time under Nickels, Corr advocate dfor the passage of the Families and Education Levy, which nearly doubled the amount of money to aid the Seattle School District to fund academic programs.

Today, he is pushing the school district to adopt an academic plan before closing certain schools to prevent further economic and educational losses.

'Not another career politician'

To date Corr has visited more than 4,000 homes in an effort to listen to Seattle constituents and has raised more than $150,000 for his campaign.

"The answer to this city's future is not another career politician but getting people that have passion and ideas," Corr said.[[In-content Ad]]