A Leading Question: Kate Martin and the Greenwood Bog

Jul 23, 2013

Editor's note: KPLU has asked all nine candidates in the Seattle mayoral race to tell us about a time when his or her leadership skills were put to the test. One candidate's answer follows.

Out of all the candidates running in the 2013 mayoral primary, no one has known incumbent Mike McGinn longer than Kate Martin. The two of them were on the Greenwood Community Council together for almost 10 years. Even though she calls him "Mike," you wouldn't really call them friends.

"We don't really have a relationship," said Martin.

McGinn came up when I asked Martin about a time when her leadership skills were put to the test.

"It was 2006. I was on the Greenwood Community Council. Neighbors came to the meeting almost in tears because their house and their street was sinking in the bog, and Mike did nothing," she said.

The bog is in Greenwood near some of the newer development north of 85th Street. Big buildings were going in and they were pumping water from the ground, which made the land around the bog unstable. Martin got in touch with the city's Planning and Development Department.

"We navigated a legislative process where we were able to stop the sinking and solve the problem," she said. 

Martin has her own planning and design business. She ran for the Seattle School Board in 2011 and lost. If elected mayor, one of Martin's top priorities would be requiring police sergeants to have a college degree.

"I really don't think a G.E.D. is enough," said Martin.

Martin insists she is a good listener and tries to come up with solutions that will work for everyone—a trait she didn't see in McGinn when they were on the neighborhood council together.

"The things that were important to Mike were flaring up for the drama, and then who was going to go out for beers after the meeting," she said.

Martin flares up, too. In 2009, she refused to leave Roosevelt High School until her son was given a different math teacher. She says the teacher he had was unqualified. Police had to escort Martin out of the building.

When she was asked about the incident, her response was angry and brief. Then she sent an email stating:

"I have no patience about it. I am disappointed that the media cannot put this one to rest. No one says a godddamn word about the principal, the teacher and the travesty heaped on kids."

When Martin was reached by phone a second time, she hung up.