Here’s the first batch of STB endorsements. Recall that our intent is to focus entirely on transit and land use issues, and not consider (to the best of our ability) other issues. Given the relative impotence of Councilmembers to impact transit, we’re going to weight their attitude to development pretty heavily.
Our editorial board is Martin H. Duke, Ben Schiendelman, and John Jensen, with valued input from the rest of the staff.
Richard Conlin for Seattle City Council – Position 2:
Conlin is a dependable vote on transit and land use issues, and we shouldn’t lose him from the council. He voted for the streetcar network plan last year, and will be an ally on a 1st Avenue streetcar regardless of who the mayor is. Conlin serves on the Sound Transit board, where he led the fight to move the Roosevelt station (part of North Link) to the neighborhood core rather than in the middle of the state’s busiest highway. For all the good we see in Conlin, we recognize that he must be a stronger leader on transportation, land use, and environmental issues. Too often he is just the follower of a good cause. If voters give him another term, Conlin should accept his responsibility to propose new ideas and tackle new fights.
Ginsburg, to his credit, has environmental credentials and is for replacing the Viaduct with surface/transit and not an expensive tunnel. But his positions on development give us concern. Neighborhoods must maintain their character, but not at the expensive of vitality and a warming globe. Density in Seattle has some place in most of our neighborhoods, not just downtown. This is not a problem with Conlin. Re-elect Richard Conlin.
Dorsol Plants or Sally Bagshaw for Seattle City Council – Position 4:
We feel this is the weakest field of all the City Council races. There are important flaws in the positions of Bagshaw and Plants, although there are some offsetting interesting ideas.
What we do emphasize, however, is the importance of defeating David Bloom. Bloom, a well-known ally of John Fox, is a Frank Chopp-style old-school liberal who gets social justice and poverty issues but not environmental ones. He opposes projects that replace old, and therefore affordable, housing stock, which rules out virtually all economically feasible projects. A Bloom development policy would result in long-term skyrocketing real estate prices in Seattle and ever-widening sprawl.
Jessie Israel for Seattle City Council Position #6:
Jessie Israel is an exciting candidate who shares most of our transportation views. She is a strong advocate of Transit-Oriented Development, density, bicycle lanes, and environmental issues in general. She supports decreasing or eliminating minimum parking requirements where appropriate, upzoning near transit stops, and removing parking on arterials for bike lanes when needed. These can be tough positions to take in such a balkanized city as Seattle, and she would add momentum and perhaps even some leadership to these goals — which need to be addressed sooner than later.
Incumbent Nick Licata has never been a friend of Sound Transit. He was a member of a group called “Sane Transit” which sued to scrap the original line (which opened last month) when the agency had problems in its early years. More recently, Licata has been opposed to the Seattle streetcar network which this blog has advocated for in the past and Israel supports. Licata is a colorful figure, and to his credit has been an advocate of pedestrian and bicycle improvement programs, but Israel is a better match on substance and would make a strong addition to the Council.
Mike O’Brien for Seattle City Council Position #8:
Mike O’Brien has impeccable environmental credentials, extending to all the right views on transit, bicycling, land use, and pedestrian issues. He’s the best of a crowded field, and a field with no incumbent. O’Brien was the easiest of our four endorsements, and if you’re going to donate to only one City Council Candidate it should be O’Brien.
His transportation plans are not only ideologically sound, but also extremely savvy about what it is that the City Council can and cannot accomplish. The focus is on things like bus lanes and land use, rather than simply nagging the County for more bus service.