Mayoral candidate Mike McGinn
Mayoral candidate Mike McGinn

Seattle mayoral candidate Joe Mallahan abruptly canceled his appearance at a candidates’ forum Thursday at the Grammy MusicTech Summit ’09.

Mallahan apparently gave no reason for his absence, leaving organizers somewhat miffed.

“I think it’s frankly disappointing” when a candidate doesn’t honor a commitment, said Ben London, executive director of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of The Recording Academy.

Among those in the audience at the JBL Theatre at the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum was Neil Portnow, the current president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS).

Mallahan’s absence gave opponent Mike McGinn a perfect opportunity to further woo Seattle’s music community, which recently gave him a public-relations boost at a fundraiser at the Crocodile Cafe.

McGinn was gracious, articulate and good-humored at the town hall-style event moderated by author and music critic
Charles R. Cross. Rather than taking a seat, McGinn stood and talked about his life and career and his reasons for running for mayor.

He also acknowedged Mayor Greg Nickels’ defeat in the summer primary, saying, “Now we can have a debate about the future and not rehash the last eight years.”

McGinn is a self-professed “music guy” who appeared very comfortable at a music-industry forum. He looked and acted so much like a winner that Cross reminded a supporter in the audience that McGinn had not yet won the election.

Someone asked if he would continue funding Seattle City of Music, an initiative launched by Nickels to boost the local music industry’s national profile. He indicated that he would, but acknowledged the city’s budgetary challenges in a bad economy.

Cross suggested that the music community was not unanimous in its support of McGinn and that some of those who might otherwise support him were skeptical of his anti-tunnel stance, which has been a key issue in his campaign. McGinn responded by saying that if Seattle voters decide they really want a tunnel, then he would consider softening his stand. At least that’s how I interpreted McGinn’s remarks.

I was left with a feeling, however, that McGinn’s opposition to the tunnel agreement, which took eight years to reach, might cause him and the city a lot grief if the debate drags on and on.

The candidates’ forum began at 3:30 p.m. with a spirited debate between city attorney candidate Pete Holmes and incumbent Tom Carr, who has taken a lot of heat in the music community for his 2007 crackdown on Seattle clubs, dubbed Operation Sobering Thought.

Moderator Cross acknowledged that before this year, the race for city attorney would not have prompted a music-industry forum, but that controversary surrounding the city attorney’s office during Carr’s tenure had heightened the race’s profile.

Carr admitted his missteps, but defended his record at the city attorney’s office. “We can be as helpful as people think we are harmful,” he said.

Meanwhile, Holmes criticized Operation Sobering Thought as a “failed effort that created ill will” in the community.

2 Replies to “Joe Mallahan a no-show at music-industry forum”

  1. Thought I saw you there, but it was someone else. Interesting event, for sure. Cross suggested Seattle put up historical music plaques, just like London. McGinn liked the idea.

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