Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn yesterday seemed to confirm rumors that he’ll be running a ballot measure for in-city light rail expansion this November, a year earlier than McGinn’s deadline of 2011.
The possibility of a rail vote this year is the worst-kept secret around town. The Stranger quoted McGinn saying he’d like to have a vote this year and Publicola’s reporters have for weeks hinted that McGinn would be moving on a ballot measure sooner than expected, culminating with a recent report on McGinn’s strong opening statement as a member of the Sound Transit board.
His office wouldn’t answer directly when asked if the mayor planned to put a measure on the ballot this November. “During the campaign, he committed to put a plan before voters within two years,” said Aaron Pickus, a spokesperson for the mayor, “and during his inaugural address, the mayor affirmed that commitment.” But some actions can speak more clearly than [a spokesperson's] words.
This November, voters will decide a tax measure to fund light rail, pedestrian, and bicycle infrastructure. The measure authorizes up to two point one billion dollars in taxes over thirty-five years. If the election were today, would you vote yes to approve, or no to reject this tax measure?
$2.1 billion is a lot of money for light rail and other green transportation improvements. (Central Link cost $2.6 billion in year-of-expenditure dollars to build.) We’d like to hear more specifics, though, including what role Sound Transit would play in building and operating light rail.
It now seems more likely than not that 2010 will have another vote for light rail expansion. A vote later this year would come just two years after the region — and Seattle overwhelmingly — voted to build Sound Transit 2 which extended light rail north to Lynnwood, south to Federal Way, and east to Redmond.