On Monday, the King County Council approved Executive Constantine’s nominees for the Sound Transit Board. By an 8-0 vote (Ms. Lambert was absent), the Council confirmed County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, and Seattle Councilmember Mike O’Brien to replace outgoing officeholders Julia Patterson, Mike McGinn, and Richard Conlin, respectively, all of whom had the same position as their successors. The Council also confirmed Mr. Constantine, County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, Mayor Fred Butler of Issaquah, and Mayor Claudia Balducci of Bellevue to return to the Board.
I heard speculation that the second “North King” seat would go not to the Seattle Council, but instead to Shoreline. Although Shoreline Councilmember Will Hall would have been an excellent choice, Constantine opted to nominate one of the most progressive transportation voices possible in Mr. O’Brien.
Whereas most legislative positions are largely a question of appropriations when it comes to transportation, the ST Board is unique in that it tends to defer on planning and design issues to members from the relevant jurisdiction. Furthermore, with ST2 station planning and ST3 package design both likely to begin soon, a board with the correct priorities with respect to transit quality, land use, and parking is especially valuable. In the one appointment where he had wide discretion, Mr. Constantine nominated one of the top two Seattle Councilmembers (along with Burgess) on urbanist issues.