As expected, our endorsement of Greg Nickels generated a lot of good discussion. Reasonable transit advocates can disagree on the best pick for Mayor, and they certainly have.
The only thing I’d like to add is to correct a false impression. Some people believe that the credit everyone gives to Nickels for getting light rail built is basically a function of him endorsing a few measures and being in the vicinity when the key decisions were made. In fact, it’s much more significant than that.
Back in July 2008, we covered extensively the battle to get ST2 back to the ballot. It basically came down to a number of fence sitters waiting for all the other fence-sitters to commit. The key swing vote was Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, who was holding out for rail to cross the county line, which required North King funds that Seattle would probably prefer to spend elsewhere. Crosscut did some excellent reporting at the time about the key deal between Nickels and Reardon that got it done. The tone of the piece is also a useful reminder of an atmosphere where further ST expansion seemed much less inevitable than it does today.
The other crucial Nickels contribution that year was in the conduct of the campaign itself. In contrast to the big-money Roads and Transit campaign of 2007, donors were stingy in 2008. Several STBers participated heavily in the 2008 yes campaign, and those that were there know that several Nickels staffers were given leave to run the campaign and do most of the work for it.
And of course, as late as November 1, 2008, the polling was pretty ambiguous as to whether or not Prop 1 was going to pass. Prop 1 was far from a slam dunk, and Team Nickels is what got it on the ballot and put it over the top.