Wednesday, March 28, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Heft to mayoral race

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City Attorney Mark Sidran surprised no one with yesterday's announcement that he is running for Seattle mayor. But his entry into the race raises the stakes and caliber of talent ready to ponder the city's future.

A contest that might have been a referendum on incumbent Mayor Paul Schell expands to a broader discussion about the kind of place Seattle has been and will become.

Sidran isn't some first-term council member flattering himself by pretending to be mayoral material. He isn't a hardy perennial, throwing his name into a few races to see what happens.

He is a smart, three-term city attorney with enough heft and cachet to make the race a more substantial event. Sidran is someone who might not normally challenge an incumbent unless he senses weakness.

Schell has that. WTO, the WTO anniversary, the earthquake, Mardi Gras and Boeing's shocker - Schell isn't the luckiest politician around. But luck is often the residue of design, meaning Schell has considerable explaining to do.

Sidran is no easy frontrunner. He will have some tough campaigning among Seattle's traditional voting blocs. His city attorney tenure has been marked by stances best described as tough on law-and-order matters. He reminds people of New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, both good and bad. Sidran bristles at such simplistic classifications and notes that he and his opponents all hold similar visions. The difference, as he frames it, is who will be the strongest leader and who can deliver.

The race is on. It will be a more substantive event with Sidran's participation.


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