Why he's fighting: The oldest of six children, Nickels moved at a young age from Chicago to Erie, Pa., to Seattle as his father searched for work. He went to the all-boys Seattle Preparatory School, but when his father quit his Boeing job to start the Pacific Northwest's first public defenders group for low-income children, Nickels worked after school in the mess hall and at a funeral home to pay his tuition.
He started college at the University of Washington but never finished, dropping out to manage a city council campaign. He worked his way up and became Seattle's mayor in 2002.
The Democrat, best known for his commitment to environmental protection, led the charge on light rail and water taxi service. He's been unafraid to take a stand.
What he's defending: In the past decade, Seattle taxpayers have funded two sports cathedrals — the Mariners' Safeco Field and the Seahawks' Qwest Field. The combined price tag was nearly $1 billion.