Yesterday, I read a short piece in the Stranger that calls on Jay Inslee, governor-elect, to push hard in a few places he hasn’t yet shown much leadership. Part of their last section really caught my attention:
Use your power to push for mass transit that makes sense in the biggest county in the state—King County. It happens to be the county that just elected you, and it also happens to be the place where you can make a significant contribution to your real passion: environmental stewardship.
We’ve just spent eight years with a governor who’s been unwilling to lead on transit. She’s put forward road and highway expansion projects, but she has done no more than the bare minimum to support transit.
Jay Inslee ran as an environmental candidate. He’s talked a lot about green jobs and renewable energy, and worked in Congress to help promote both. But at home, the greenest jobs we can possibly create are those that build transit. And the most damaging jobs we can create are those expanding our highways, literally paving the way for climate change.
Jay Inslee’s values tell me he should be a leader on both transit and land use. How he was elected, and the people elected around him this week – like Jessyn Farrell and Jake Fey – tell me the voters want him to lead on transit too.
He’s not going to do it alone – we need to tell him what we want. Personally, I want a transportation package that fixes existing roads and bridges, builds bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure wherever it makes those repairs, and funds transit – a lot of it. What we found in 2007 with the failure of Roads and Transit is that people in Puget Sound don’t want more or bigger highways – and polling since then (and that whole 2008 Sound Transit 2 blowout) shows that there are two things we all agree on: we want to fix our aging infrastructure, and we want to build more transit.
If we’re going to have a dent in climate change, the package needs to be *mostly* transit – and mostly electric transit. It needs to fund Amtrak Cascades so we can get service levels up to a point where we can argue to electrify it. It needs to give Sound Transit enough revenue to speed up their projects and get ready for more. And it needs to keep our buses funded, and give local governments funding to make capital improvements so they’re more efficient.
Maybe it should tie some of these goals to land use, to encourage our agencies and governments to zone in order to make transit, walking and biking more successful. But regardless, it should not fund projects that will increase our emissions – only projects that will decrease them while improving our economy.
So to the governor-elect, I say: I want to see you lead with your values. Don’t support projects that make our future worse. If you need our help, ask, and we’ll be there to support you.