As in the primary, STB is endorsing candidates and initiatives for the November general election. This is officially a non-partisan blog, so we’ll be evaluating candidates based on their attitude toward transit.
Strong Endorsements (Strongly pro-transit)
Sound Transit Proposition 1: YES
U.S. Congress, 1st District: Jay Inslee
U.S. Congress, 6th District: Norm Dicks
Washington State Attorney General: John Ladenburg
10th District Senate: Linda Haddon
21st District House: Mary Helen Roberts
41st District Senate: Fred Jarrett
44th District House, Position 1: Hans Dunshee
47th District House, Position : Geoff Simpson
U.S. President/Vice President: Barack Obama/Joe Biden
Lukewarm Endorsements (Transit-neutral, but far better than their opponents).
Governor: Christine Gregoire
Secretary of State: Sam Reed
41st District House, Position 1: Marcie Maxwell
41st District House, Position 2: Write-in
Supporting arguments after the jump. Admin is listed as the post author, but in fact this is a collective effort.
YES on ST Prop. 1: You know the drill.
Proposition 1 is a 36 mile expansion of light rail, a 17% immediate increase in ST bus service, and a 65% increase in Sounder service. We believe that the primary investment of this package, light rail, is the strongest transit option to support our region. Fixed-guideway rail spurs more compact urban development that is better for the environment and for your commute. The light rail in Proposition 1 also reaches as far north as Lynnwood, south as Federal Way, and east to Redmond – making life easier for those commuting from well outside the city. For those who do live in Seattle, you’ll have a subway from Northgate to the International District, and the West side of the city is next in the queue. Light rail frees up bus hours for local service – to places like Northgate and Sea-Tac, the train is as fast or faster and more reliable than a bus, so those bus hours can be moved to routes that need them. Rail has many benefits over buses: The trains can’t get stuck in congestion, they are much cheaper to operate, and are powered by electricity rather than diesel – meaning we can increase transit service without increasing our carbon footprint.
Proposition 1 is a huge improvement over last year’s Roads & Transit measure. We don’t have to fund highway expansion that would drive sprawl and make our congestion worse. The transit part of the plan is much cheaper and will be completed five years sooner. The Sound Transit board created a streamlined plan that delivers better value. We enthusiastically endorse Sound Transit’s Proposition 1! Remember, it’s all the way at the end of the ballot. Like a good grassroots campaign, vote from the bottom up this year!
NO on I-985: We’ve covered this here.
I-985 takes away HOV lanes that regional buses need to operate effectively, puts SR-520 funding in question and removes the possibility of later paying for transit expansion with tolling. We have in the past advocated for transit along tolled corridors so motorists are given an alternative to paying the toll. I-985 puts the entire regional bus system at the risk of being stuck in traffic and no longer being a realistic alternative to driving alone. Opening up carpool lanes would create more congested merges when those lanes end, such as on I-90, and SR-520. In addition, it would cost us hundreds of millions a year for other ineffective Tim Eyman plan that won’t help traffic. While people are understandably fed up with congestion, I-985 is not the solution. No on I-985.
US Representative, 1st District: Jay Inslee has been a leader in Congress on alternative energy, and his enthusiasm has extended to enthusiastic support for mass transit. In particular, he co-sponsored HR 6495 , one of the more pro-transit bills to come out of this Congress.
US Representative, 6th District: Norm Dicks has been a very active supporter of transit in our region, especially Sound Transit but also Pierce Transit in his district. He’s on the House Appropriations Committee, and he has done a great job of bringing federal dollars home for transportation projects in this state. Sound Transit gets a lot of federal funding, and along with Patty Murray, Representive Dicks deserves credit for this. He also deserves re-election, and if Prop. 1 passes, we would really benefit from having him working for us in DC.
Attorney General: John Ladenburg was a Pierce County prosecutor for 14 years before before becoming Pierce’s County Executive for two terms. In his role in Pierce County and as a Sound Transit board member, he has been a strong friend of transit.
10th District Senate (Camano Island): Republican Linda Haddon has come out in favor of increasing funding of the ferry system. Furthermore, she is not Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, who was the driving force behind Sound Transit governance reform this year. Haugen gets bonus points for claiming that her constituents “don’t even know who their Sound Transit representative is,” which makes sense because her constituents lie outside the Sound Transit district and therefore don’t have a representative. Haugen is also chair of the House Transportation Committee; a Haddon victory will not put a Republican in charge of the that committee, and may even cause the ascendancy of an urban Senator such as Ed Murray.
21st District House, Position 1 (Mukilteo): Democrat Mary Helen Roberts is in favor of Proposition 1. Brian Travis wants just more buses stuck in traffic.
44th District House, Position 1 (Mill Creek, Marysville): Democrat Hans Dunshee says we need to spend more on mass transit, Republican Larry Countryman says we spend too much. That one is easy.
47th District House, Position 1 (Covington): Democrat Geoff Simpson stuck out his neck for Sound Transit by vocally opposing governance reform when it was all the rage in Olympia. In our opinion, he may be the most pro-ST voice in the State Legislature. His opponent, Mark Hargrove, quotes Kemper Freeman on his website.
President: In the unlikely event that you’re casting your vote for President and Vice President based on solely on transit policy, we’d have to give the nod to Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Obama has made a lot of pro-rail comments, and has indicated that he’ll increase Federal Transit Administration funding — something that could make Sound Transit expansion faster. Although Vice Presidents usually don’t make a big difference, Biden could be the most pro-Amtrak, pro-mass transit candidate for either office in a century. Congressional Democrats as well as Obama have hinted at a future stimulus package investing in infrastructure — typically described as “roads & bridges.” We hope that mass transit and rail investments will also be considered.
John McCain has a strong history voting against Amtrak funding, and to our knowledge has never mentioned mass transit on the trail. This Brookings Institution report outlines the candidates’ positions on transportation.
Governor: Christine Gregoire
Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire has not been an ally of Sound Transit. Despite support of Amtrak Cascades and paying lip service to light rail across the state line from Portland to Vancouver, WA, she has not supported Puget Sound transit investment. In fact, she has openly called for “governance reform” of Sound Transit – a move that would result in transit money being married to roads, just like last year’s fiasco. Her Secretary of Transportation reluctantly approved Proposition 1 going to the ballot, but the governor herself has remained silent on the issue. Many states, including our neighbors to the south, wisely invest in their urban mass transit systems. Olympia, under the leadership of Gregoire, has made no moves to invest in the Puget Sound’s transit network with state dollars. We need an ally in the governor’s mansion to allow for speed-up or future expansion proposal to move before voters within the next decade. Gregoire is not that ally.
But if Gregoire isn’t an ally, then Republican Dino Rossi is an enemy. We previously critiqued this transporation plan here. He wants to raid ST funding for transit on the Eastside – money from Sound Move being saved to help build light rail to Bellevue. He wants to use it to build state HOV lanes. He has shown open ignorance to what the ST board was even discussing just before Proposition 1 was actually approved to go on the ballot. He uses unrealistic figures to encourage roads expansion — such as building an eight-lane SR-520 when the capacity of I-5 nor I-405 could not handle it, and when the cost is prohibitive. He also supported a tunneled Viaduct. He doesn’t recognize the outrageous cost, however, and his website lists voodoo numbers to support his plan. The funding isn’t there and there is an unnecessary focus on roads expansion. That focus will hurt our environment and our quality of life. He calls transit a purely local decision, indicating that state funding would also not be likely under his administration. And at a time when King County will have to go to the state to support not only its justice and health care systems, but potentially its transit system — having a man who doesn’t seem concerned about urban values seems risky.
We are not enthusiastic about Chris Gregoire. She needed to show more leadership on important issues and she needed to take our transit system more seriously. However, Dino Rossi is too dangerous for our region’s transit and land use decisions. We advise our readers to vote Gregoire.
Secretary of State Sam Reed has supported Sound Transit’s right to write the ballot language for the Propositions, and that, we think, is enough to support him over the unknown challenger on this topic.
41st District House (Mercer Island, Newcastle): Democrat Marcie Maxwell is characterized as “on the fence” on Proposition 1, but Steve Litzow, Republican, has come out in opposition to Proposition 1. ‘Nuff said.
41st District House, Position 2: Incumbent Rep. Judy Clibborn has fought the installation of rail on I-90, which would effectively kill light rail to the Eastside. You would think a city that would be among the first to get rail service wouldn’t have so many of these kinds of characters. Unfortunately, Clibborn is unopposed, so register your displeasure by writing-in the Mercer Island resident of your choice.
We hope this helps you make up your minds. Thanks to Martin for compiling this great list, and to John and the rest of the STB crew for contributing their help.