Photo by Steve Shay
Former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels of West Seattle is pictured with wife, Sharon, during his campaign kickoff yesterday, at the Central Area Senior Center. It was also Sharon's birthday. In attendance were King County Exec. Dow Constantine of West Seattle and Steve Daschle, Exec. Dir. Southwest Youth and Family Services.

Former Mayor Greg Nickels' Secretary of State campaign kickoff attended by notables

Greg's wife, Sharon, honored on her birthday at event

Former Seattle Mayor, and West Seattle resident, Greg Nickels held his official campaign kickoff and fundraiser last night for his Secretary of State campaign. Sporting his now trademark beard, he appeared low-key but determined at last night's event. It was held at the Central Area Senior Center, 500 30th Av. S., scenically situated overlooking Lake Washington eastward, with dramatic views of Mercer Island, Bellevue and beyond, places where he will need to win votes in this statewide election.

Nickels' opponents include- Kim Wyman (R), the Thurston County Auditor, Kathleen Drew (D), the Former State Senator & Former Gubernatorial Aide, (Her husband Steven is Thurston County Assessor), and Jim Kastama (D), State Senator & former State Representative. Current three-term Secretary of State Sam Reed (R) retires. Primaries are Aug. 7.

Nickels' speech took on a sentimental tone as he honored his wife, Sharon, and thanked her for excusing him for holding his kickoff on her birthday.

Attendees included King County Executive Dow Constantine of West Seattle, Executive Director of West Seattle-based Southwest Youth and Family Services Steve Daschle, Seattle City Council member Sally Bagshaw, and Former Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis. Nickels was introduced by Seattle attorney David Perez.

David Perez:

Perez said his parents were born in Cuba, that in 10 counties in Central Washington, one of three residents are Hispanic, and that our politics there have failed to keep pace with this changing demographic. He said the Washington Voting Rights Act, supported by Nickels, would give better representation to that demographic.

In those counties, 92-percent of the election systems are "at-large", meaning there are no neighborhood or local election districts in which only voters residing within the election district may vote for candidates who also reside in the election district.

Greg Nickels:

"For me the journey started when I was 16 (...) forty years ago last month," said Nickels during his speech. "My mom wanted to go to our precinct caucus. We lived on Capitol Hill (...) The caucuses were held Tuesday nights in people's living rooms. My dad wanted to go to bed early and Mom asked me to go with her. I spent three hours in our neighbor's living room with 20 people sitting around and talking about issues that mattered, the war in Southeast Asia, the draft, the idea of an all-volunteer army, civil rights and The Great Society and that night changed my life because I found my voice."

He spoke of working for Congressman Jim McDermott's campaign for governor at that time.

"You need to make sure that the voice of the average person continues to be the voice heard on election day, not the voice of big money, of incredibly wealthy individuals who want to buy state supreme court seats which they are doing in some states," he said, adding, "The Voting Rights Act is something I am going to support whole-heartedly."

Marianne Bichsel

Marianne Bichsel, who served six years as a senior advisor and communications director to Nickels, called on attendees to support him. She spoke of his reducing carbon emissions, and helping develop the South Lake Union bio-tech hub.

Dow Constantine:

Constantine told the Robinson Newspapers, "I've always been a big fan of Greg. He was someone who worked with us when I first started getting my toe into politics working on open space preservation in West Seattle saving the College Street Ravine, part of the Duwamish Head Greenbelt. That got me involved in the local Democratic party which got me involved in running for office and now here I am County Executive.

"I was his successor at the King County Council and we continued to build on the great work he did there even before he became mayor, in the environment, in the conduct of our elections, in a whole range of areas where he has had a great impact on the direction of entire county. I think he'd be a great Secretary of State, and has a lot of skills that not a lot of other people have to take over Secretary of State.

"Traditionally, over the last several decades, people have tended to pick and choose as they go down the ballot between Democrats and Republicans, and Secretary of State is one of those offices where there has had a lot of back and forth, and there have been Republicans in that office for quite a long time and now voters might be saying this is the time to put a Democrat in that office."

Steve Daschle:

Said Daschle, a former West Seattle resident, "The Secretary of State's office has a great deal to do with the non-profit sector and Greg is particularly sensitive to the issues and concerns of non-profits across Washington State. I know Greg well, and I know he will do a great job in that role.

"I think we're hopefully coming out of the worst recession since the Great Depression," Steve Daschle told Robinson Newspapers. "The public sector support for human services will come back even stronger than before. There is a recognition that people are in need, and people need to support their neighbors."

Nickels served 14 years on the King County Council. Since leaving the office of Mayor, he was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate to be a Public Delegate of the United States to the Sixty-fifth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Holding the rank of Ambassador, Public Delegates serve for a one-year term. As Ambassador, Nickels was a vocal advocate for America’s democratic principles and promoted solutions to protect our planet from the devastating effects of climate change.

Before his appointment from President Obama, Nickels served as a resident Fellow at Harvard University in 2010. In that role he taught in the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government.

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