I’ve talked to a couple of sources, and together with observations from some board meetings, I think I know who the swing votes are going into next Thursday’s board vote.
There are 18 board members total. We need 12 YES votes to get on the ballot in 2008, although more would probably help to sell it to the public. Right now, I reckon we have 11 with two board members on the fence, and some others that might be brought around.
Someone like me can talk to Aaron Reardon until I’m blue in the face, but Mr. Reardon doesn’t really care (nor should he care) what a Seattle resident thinks. That’s why it’s important for these politicians to hear from their actual constituents. So if you live in the right place, make yourself heard.
In King County, I’m fairly comfortable that 8 of the 10 representatives (Nickels, Phillips, Constantine, Patterson, Burleigh, Butler, Conlin, and Marchione) are solid YES votes. I’ve heard very little about Burleigh (Kirkland), Butler (Issaquah), and Marchione (Redmond), so if you’re a constituent of one of those three it wouldn’t hurt to drop them a line thanking them for their work on Sound Transit and encouraging them to vote YES.
Ron Sims has staked a very public position in opposition to light rail to anywhere but Northgate, so I suspect he’s beyond persuasion at this point. If you like tilting at windmills, though, go for it.
The interesting figure from King County is Pete von Reichbauer, who represents parts of Algona, Auburn, Federal Way, Pacific, Kent and Milton. He seems to be on the fence, pulled in different directions. Federal Way is gung-ho about transit oriented development and therefore rail, but he seems hesitant to pull the trigger. Let’s show him that his interests lie in serving constituents that want a YES vote.
In Pierce County, there’s a solid YES block of Thomas, Anderson, and Enslow. All three are very active in meetings, asking good questions and clearly dedicated in bringing us light rail ASAP. County Executive John Ladenburg, however, is wavering; he’s running for state Attorney General, and as with any electioneering politician, is very conscious of how the wind is blowing statewide. Fortunately, that means he’s somewhat susceptible to pleas from any citizen in the state.
Snohomish County is the most challenging terrain. In spite of the staff’s move to a 15-year plan to placate Executive Reardon, he’s been decidedly noncommittal, and he’s made positive comments about governance reform in the past. Edmonds Councilwoman Deanna Dawson, who owes her position on the board to Reardon, seems to be following his lead. Just try to figure out how she’ll vote based on this KUOW interview (skip ahead to 10:00); bet you can’t! Lastly, there’s Everett Councilmember Paul Roberts, who’s traditionally been very skeptical of the Light Rail project and is likely to vote no.
The last vote on the board is WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond, who Goldy thinks is going to vote NO. But that’s a whole ‘nother rant. Her boss is Governor Gregoire, who’s up for re-election, for what it’s worth.
If my guesses are correct, we’re at 11 pretty solid votes for light rail, when we need 12. There are four attainable votes out there, if the right people get a hold of them. If you’re a constituent of one of the swing votes, let them know what you think. With the current level of gas prices and Obama on the ballot, this is the best chance we may have in a generation to get a large rail plan that actually passes. That opens the gates for a follow-on project down the road to build what isn’t served this time around.
Or, we can mess around and argue about Northgate and Bellevue for a few more years.
Minds are being made up as we speak. Act now.
Comments with nasty, personal comments about politicians will be deleted as soon as I see them.