Seattle Transit Blog teamed up with Northwest Hub last Thursday to host another meet-up. The partnership — as well as the kindness of GGLO in hosting the event in a great space — meant we saw many new faces and had a great time. So fun, in fact, that I even got to eat a whole apple. The turn-out was pretty high and we’ll have to look into using the GGLO space again.
The meet-up was pretty heavy with guests. First up, Andrew Glass Hastings and Rachel Smith — both ran the Mass Transit Now! campaign last year — spoke about the city council race in Bellevue and how we only need to win one of the four races to preserve light rail through downtown. We’ll be covering this more in the future.
Next up were three speakers who were invited by Northwest Hub, and all focused on transit-oriented development. The first speaker spoke about a specific TOD project he was working on in Columbia City, and noted some of the challenges he has with slowness of Seattle’s planning department as well as the economic environment in general. Second, Chuck Wolfe gave a detailed lecture about how to move toward TOD politically. Drawing a lot of lessons from the current political climate, this speaker had the line of the night: “Mallahan is surrounded by great advisers. McGinn knows his stuff.” Finally, Sara Nikolic from Futurewise spoke about their work on the TOD bill during the last legislative session — which failed to pass — and how to get a bill passed this coming legislative session.
Our special guest speaker was Dow Constantine, candidate for King County Executive and current Chair of the County Council. Obviously tired from a long day of campaign, Constantine was still excited to talk about “his favorite subject: transit.” He gave a small speech about his differences from his opponent and took questions from the audience. Some key highlights:
- He commented on the absurdity of I-1033, saying if it were to pass it would put the government into a “permanent recession.”
- He showed a nuance position on the tunnel, acknowledging (correctly) that infrastructure creates demand but also not wanting to re-start the Viaduct replacement process since zany, crazy ideas could come back to the forefront and waste all of our time. Still, he knew his audience and did not attack surface/transit.
- He weighed in on the suspensions vs. cuts debate and stated that the suburban advantage on the council may make for an uphill battle. He said it was more important to fundamentally reform service allocation and end the 40/40/20 policy.
- He said that trolley buses last longer and that we shouldn’t replace them with hybrids, but with newer trolleys.
- He said that he doesn’t support a Metro fare increase of 25 cents per year “forever,” poking fun at some Councilmember plans to raise fares a dollar over the next four years. He said that transit has many purposes, one of which is the social goal of providing transportation for those in poverty. He hinted that a low-income fare might be worth considering
- After Constantine was done taking questions, he lounged around with readers for another 45 minutes or so. He’s a pretty wonky, candid guy. I’m happy we’ve endorsed him.
Also making the rounds was city council candidate David Ginsburg, who’s running an up-hill election against incumbent Richard Conlin. Ginsburg had the best glasses of the evening.
Thanks again to Jesse, Emily, and Ashley from Northwest Hub for partnering with us. And thanks to all of the guest speakers and blog readers who showed up.