Is Cantwell Keeping Fast Company?

Who is the mystery man in Rep. Maria Cantwell's life? The First District congresswoman, defeated last month, has kept her romantic life, if any, strictly private. Aides have repeatedly declined to say who it is she's been dating.

Ah, but never underestimate sources. Several have identified Cantwell's date as Scott Daggatt, a stockbroker with Seattle-based National Securities Corporation. The 40-something Daggatt is well-known in athletic circles. He broke the four-minute mile in 1975 (3:58.6) and held a Bellevue City Meet indoor two-mile record of 9:23.4 for 13 years.

Daggatt's not only fast, he's social. He helped launch the Seafair Ball, a let-your-hair-down alternative to the more stately official event. (That event now has a spinoff: The Downtown Countdown, a benefit for underprivileged children that's held at Union Station on New Year's Eve.)

Asked about his relationship with Cantwell, Daggatt laughed and said, "No comment." He ventured a cautious opinion: "Maria is a very good woman."

Name game: The search for a new University of Washington president is being conducted with the utmost secrecy: shredded notes and secret interviews at airport hotels.

How clandestine is the quest? Earlier this month UW Daily reporters shadowed search-committee members and returned with a photo of a guy wearing glasses and a suit. He called himself "Kelly Lingenbirnk," a name not well known in academic circles.

The name (possibly fabricated) has a nice multiethnic dimension and, in its favor, could be used by either sex. Some noms de plume the UW's search committee may not have thought of: Oliver Trubles, Chester Minit and Nona Urbusiness.

Career move: Longtime Snohomish County prosecutor Seth Dawson lost his re-election bid in November after a battle against property-rights advocate Jim Krider, a Republican who took 50.97 percent of the vote.

But Dawson won't be retiring from the public scene. Next month, he will take over as executive director of Deaconess Children's Services in Everett.

Safety first: Metro bus drivers have quarterly "safety days" when they're invited to take a break, drink coffee and watch safety videos.

Yesterday was such a day. Only it wasn't the usual video fare. For a change of pace, the drivers got to watch some suspense scenes from the movie "Speed."

Tennis anyone? Tennis star Monica Seles recently spent five days at the Salish. Observers say she arrived incognito, with dyed hair, accompanied by her mother. She reportedly spent some time looking at houses for sale on Mercer Island.

No parking: Apologies to Portland. Using figures obtained from the Portland Park Department, I sold the city short, reporting that Portland has 85 acres of downtown parks to Seattle's 30 acres. More definitive information came yesterday from Portland Park's Joan Hallquist: The Rose City has 250 acres of in-city parks!

Late shift: Dave Elvin, KMTT's overnight deejay, is among several callers who spotted a cryptic message on the marquee at the Jack in the Box at Broadway and Denny. It read: "Hiring for Graveyard."

Jean Godden's column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the Local News section of The Times. Her phone is 464-8300.