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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 4 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 40
Seattle nightlife heavyweights endorse Murray - Club owners credit mayoral challenger with ending the 'dance tax'
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Seattle nightlife heavyweights endorse Murray - Club owners credit mayoral challenger with ending the 'dance tax'

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

At an October 2 event at the Crocodile, a Belltown music venue, 18 leaders of Seattle's music and nightclub community endorsed Washington State Sen. Ed Murray for mayor of Seattle.

Seattle's music and nightlife industry generates $2.6 billion in annual sales and millions of dollars in tax revenues while employing some 22,000 people. Murray's campaign described the endorsements as 'a major boost.'

The group, which includes owners of some of the city's most popular venues, said Murray's successful effort during this year's legislative session to eliminate the so-called 'dance tax' shows that Murray can deliver concrete results on issues of importance to the nightlife community.

The tax, which required venues that offer the 'opportunity to dance' to charge sales tax on their cover charges, was enacted in the 1970s and repealed last June. Critics said it was discriminatory, inconsistently applied, and counterproductive. With Murray's support, the tax was repealed by a 43-5 vote in the Senate, and by a 66-25 vote in the House.

A 'MORE EFFECTIVE' CHOICE
Incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn received major support from the music and nightclub industry in his first bid for public office four years ago, but his initiative to extend nightclub hours fell flat in the face of opposition from the state Liquor Control Board.

The group at the Crocodile said they believed Murray would be more effective in the mayor's office.

'We are a very fortunate city to have two mayoral candidates with progressive values who understand and appreciate the cultural and economic value of the music and nightlife community, but after careful analysis we all agree that Ed Murray will be the more effective mayor,' said Steven Severin, co-owner of Neumos, Moe Bar, and Barboza.

Murray's emphasis on public safety, transit, and basic city services also resonated with the club owners.

'Our community faces many challenges as Seattle grows into a 24-hour city. We are concerned about issues around public safety, transportation, housing for artists, tourism, the waterfront redevelopment, social justice, and equity, alongside the fundamentals of running the city, including such basic things as sidewalk and street repairs,' said Jessie Summa-Kusiak, founder of the West Seattle venue Skylark.

'Many of these issues require leadership in the broader region and at the state level, as well as top-notch experienced people running the city and its departments. Ed Murray has demonstrated he is best candidate to deliver in that context, and as such we believe he is the clear choice to be Seattle's next mayor.'

'Ed's commitment to progressive values, fair and predictable regulation, and his ability to bring together broad bipartisan coalitions around complex issues, from transportation to marriage equality, demonstrates why we believe he is the best person to help Seattle's music and nightlife community continue to be sustainable and grow as Seattle grows,' added David Meinert, owner of the 5 Point Café, Lost Lake Café, and Big Mario's, and former owner of the Capitol Hill Block Party.

Besides Severin, Summa-Kusiak, and Meinert, endorsers included Crocodile owner Marcus Charles; Dan Cowan, owner of the Tractor Tavern; Susan Silver, of Silver Management; Mike Meckling, co-owner of Neumos, Barboza, Moe Bar, and Spitfire; Chase Jarvis, artist and founder/chair of creativeLIVE; Jeff Steichen, owner of Batch 206 Distillery; Pete Hanning, owner of the Red Door; Shelley Brothers, owner of the Wildrose; Travis Rosenthal, owner of Rumba and Tango; Anthony Frazier, owner of Trinity Nightclub; Jed Smithson, owner of Nectar Lounge; Curtis Bigelow, owner of the Lobby Bar; James Weimann and Deming Maclise, owners of Bastille, Poquitos, and Von Trapp's; and Dana Sims, owner of El Corazon.

Murray said he was 'truly honored by the endorsement of so many friends and allies in the music community.'

'I am committed to strengthening Seattle's already vibrant nightlife community,' he added. 'I appreciate that the music community has been a strong and positive force in advancing Seattle's shared progressive values. As mayor, I will work to increase the city's investment in music, nightlife, arts and culture.'

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