The Tacoma New Tribune, usually a Sound Transit supporter, has warned Sound Transit that putting a ballot iniative that doesn’t light rail from Tacoma to Sea-Tac might cost the Tribune’s support. Their reasoning is explained in this blog post from the Tribune’s editorial board. An excerpt:
We are dismayed at the possibility that some on the Sound Transit board seem to be backing away from the agency’s historic commitment to a rail connection between Pierce County and Sea-Tac airport (and points north). When the region approved a mass transit system in 1996, the chief benefit for the South Sound was the prospect of a light rail connection to heart of the Puget Sound economy. The board should know: This editorial page will not support a Sound Transit ballot measure that effectively precludes regional light rail for Pierce and South King Counties. If money is short, what’s available to be used to buy right-of-way for a planned line.
In a later blog post, David Seago brings out the latest governence reform details, which now might appear in the form of ballot initiative.
During an email exchange today with Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg on that matter, he also argued that Sound Transit should hold off until 2009 to go back to voters for Phase II expansion. Ladenburg stepped down as Sound Transit chairman last year but remains on the board for the rest of this year.
All that being said, I’m still not sure this is the right year. I understand the advantage of high voter and young voter turnout, but we are falling into a national recession. Even if the local economy remains good as I think it will, the national economy may well affect the vote.
Also, it appears that John Stanton is prepared to put his “governance change” proposal forward as an initiative and fund signature gathering to get it to the ballot this year. While I think his plan is poorly thought out and dangerous for Pierce County, he has the money to get it on the ballot and distract from any Sound Transit measure.
Plus, once Light Rail opens in 2009 in King County, I think we get a lot more
people as supporters, since this is what has happened around the US in the past.
Stanton confirmed today that supporters of forming a single regional body to govern both mass transit and road construction are exploring an initiative campaign to put it on the November ballot.
Like Ladenburg, the TNT ed board and most Pierce County elected officials are wary of regional governance, fearing that the needs of the metro Seattle area will dominate, to the detriment of Pierce County.
I hope that Stanton initiative doesn’t make it to the ballot. And I think Ladenburg and the Tribune are right, that if an elected board came to power, it would benefit Seattle’s immediate suburbs to the detriment of both Seattle itself and Pierce County. It would be a lose-lose to many of the people who want transit the most. Here’s a little more reading about Ladenburg’s feeling on ST2.
The scary thing about a governance reform initiative is that it would be voted on by the whole state, while its effects would only be felt in the Sound Transit district.