QA Port commish seeks Conlin's city council seat

Paige Miller, longtime Queen Anne resident and veteran Port of Seattle commissioner, announced last week that she will be running for Richard Conlin's seat on the Seattle City Council.

She's not alone. King County Council member Dwight Pelz and Mayor Greg Nickels' former communications director Casey Corr have also targeted Conlin in their runs for a council slot.

But Miller is challenging Conlin because she feels he has failed as chairman of the council's transportation committee. "It's the most important issue facing the city," Miller said.

Miller unloads against Conlin with both barrels in a press release in which she says the incumbent "has been the champion of delays, diversions and indecisiveness.

"He has opposed the monorail and the plan to fix Mercer Street, and he has stood four-square with two feet straddling three different positions on replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct."

For experience with transportation issues, Miller points to her work on seeing years of delay give way to the beginning of construction on the third runway and the ahead-of-schedule completion of a subway at SeaTac International Airport. She also said she has worked to extend the light-rail line to the airport.

"I did a study on the Mercer Mess when I was an aide on the city council 20 years ago," Miller added. Her conclusion was that the congested thoroughfare should be turned into a two-way street, she said.

Miller also touts her contacts at the city, state and federal levels as a plus. "I worked on some of the toughest transportation issues the city has faced," she said. "So I know how to get things done."

Joking that he is feeling the pain from all the arrows in his back, Conlin said he has been chair of the trans-portation committee for three years. "I think I'm doing an incredibly effective job on transportation," he said.

His committee picked the tunnel alternative for the viaduct, and it was his committee that called for a two-way Mercer Street, Conlin added.

"As for the monorail, I have no regrets about my concerns," he said of his objections to routing the system across the grounds of the Seattle Center. Asked why he is facing so many challengers this year, Conlin said, "There's a herd mentality here."

Conlin said he's going to run on his record and what he hopes to accomplish in the next four years on projects such as the viaduct, light rail and the 520 bridge.

Miller said she her campaign will initially focus on why she's running against Conlin. "But the mechanics will come later," she added.

Assuming Miller wins, there is no guarantee she will become chair of the council's transportation committee, according to council spokes-woman Jackie O'Ryan.

"The committee assignment is a process basically about relationships, desires and seniority to some extent," she said. "So it's really hard for anyone to assume they'll get a committee [chairmanship]."

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