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.

12 Replies to “Handicapping the Board Vote”

  1. By the way, the board will almost certainly vote on July 24th. In all the ST board meetings I’ve seen, Marchione has been pro-light rail.

    1. That’s the deadline, so I’d imagine that’s when.

      There’s a finance committee meeting on July 17th as well, I think – you can be sure it’ll be discussed there. More importantly, I think that Reardon will be getting briefed there.

      1. There’s a finance committee meeting on July 17th as well, I think – you can be sure it’ll be discussed there. More importantly, I think that Reardon will be getting briefed there.

        The finances were still very murky at the last board meeting. Community Transit did a report saying that Snohomish County would be able to fund more than what Sound Transit is saying they can. I’m sure some of this is relating to Snohomish County’s subarea being used to fill the gap between the two counties, but the ST employee did seem to know the details or perhaps just misspoke.

        Are the finance committee meeting public? It’d be great to see how this thing is funded because it seems to be the only thing preventing Reardon from fully backing the proposal.

        BTW, I don’t think Reardon is a bad guy or doing anything wrong. He has a legitimate interest in getting the most transit possible to his county. If the fifteen year plan goes forward and passes, he is responsible for some of that fight. Sure, I wish he’d promise us a “Yes!” vote — but his heart has always been in the right place during the board meetings I’ve seen.

    2. I still wrote him, and encouraged him to discuss with nay voters that light rail to one part of a region will have positive economic impacts on other even if light rail doesnt extend there yet.

  2. I’ll send a mail to “boots” Ladenburg, who is actually a super nice guy, but is concerned about seeming to give things away to Seattle.

  3. For future use to support my non-troll cred.

    I DID write to Redmond mayor Marchione today. Here’s his reply.

    “Dear Brad,

    The alternative the Board was considering was to stop at Overlake Hospital. There is not enough money to bring it all the way to downtown Redmond on the next vote. My goal is to bring it as close to downtown as possible so when ST3 arrives we can complete the project.

    ST2 contains express bus service from the Redmond Transit Center to Downtown Bellevue, Seattle and the UW in the next four years. This is to serve Redmond residents until light rail can be extended to downtown.

    The electoral difficulty is that people outside the reach of light rail are voting no because it does not come far enough. The problem with that logic is we need to come half way before we get all the way there.

    I hope you support the next ST package to Overlake so that we can then work on coming to downtown Redmond.

    Mayor John Marchione”

    Sure sounds like a YES vote to me.

    1. Where are you? Seriously, I want to know – are you in the district? What could ST do to help you out? I mean, is it just a matter of getting a bus out further?

      1. I am absolutely in the district. On the edge, with lots of other voters. Generally, I’m east of Lk Washington, but not in Sammamish, Redmond or Issaquah.

        Every park-and-ride on the Eastside is full. (And the Microsoft Connector is jamming up plenty of other lots, btw)
        I want park-and-ride access. I think that’s unselfish, since so many others complain about this also. And since they are full.

        In a perfect world, fixing the 311/545/554 routings would be nice too. For example, it takes 27 mins on a 545 ‘express bus’ just from one side of Redmond (Bear Creek)to the other (Overlake) at mid-day, while on the way to Seattle. I can drive all the way downtown for that. (And I park for free nearly everywhere I go downtown, since I’m visiting offices that validate.)

        With all the new housing going in at Issaquah Highlands, that PnR is ALREADY full and its only a year or two old. And the Highlands is only half built. An “express” 554 that originates at the Highlands crosses I90 and wanders into Issaquah before sitting in traffic to get back to I90. No one ever seems to get on at Issaquah. Bear Creek has been full for years. And Redmond PnR is a nightmare. Has been. Will be. Forever. Unless you live in a condo nearby.

        I challenge any of you to ride the 545 from Bear Creek into Seattle and tell me its not the longest, most ridiculous hour of your life. All so it can mimic a light-rail feeder route that will not be built for 40 years.

        People out here are having a tough time financially. If you want us to pay for a system, and consider paying MORE for a system, we should have access to the system.

        If I’m being asked to pay for a system (which I generally support 100% btw), then I should have access to the system.

      2. Brad,

        I’m not sure why you’re quite so oblique about where you live, but I’ll assume that it’s the unincorporated piece just East of Sammamish. To be honest, I think it’s kind of bizarre that you’d be included in the district, for what it’s worth.

        But I’ll come out in favor of a point that I think you’d agree with. As I hinted at before, at the terminus stations gargantuan park-and-rides are absolutely called for. Further in, there should be little or no parking.

        Beyond the routing questions, which seems like a technical issue, it sounds like what you want is either more park-and-ride spaces at the endpoints or decent bus service from any random point in the district to those rail stations. I think ST2/ST3 has some benefits in either case:

        * Heavily traveled trunk lines need no longer be served as much by Metro/ST, freeing up more service to feed commuters into the stations. Central LINK will be an important test to see how well the bus operations are at doing this, although unfortunately Tukwila and Seatac aren’t particularly good spots for Northbound buses going up I-5.
        For instance, if ST3 gets LINK to Issaquah, the 216 and 218 become pointless, and these Eastside long-haul trips can be devoted to more local service.

        * “Station Access Funds”, which used to be parking funds till the Sierra Club got involved. The plan details haven’t hit the street yet, but my understanding is that these will be controlled by municipalities, so you can lobby them for more parking or more buses according to taste.

        As I’ve also pointed out, a revenue-neutral way to free up parking spaces is to charge a couple of bucks for parking. That seems to have created a very strong visceral reaction in you, but I’m not sure that $2 a day is enough to decide to drive from Redmond to downtown Seattle.

        But, as I’ve commented, it’s a solution I’ve suggested for your problem, so if that doesn’t float your boat, you can hope that something else works, or push for less service in favor of more parking, it’s up to you.

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