First, I want to say why this race is important: There are two hurdles in building East Link light rail. We’ve written extensively about one of them, the I-90 issue, but the other is just as important in the long run.

The Sound Transit 2 ballot measure only provides enough money to build surface light rail in downtown Bellevue (the “C” portion of the project). The measure does include planning and engineering funding that allows more than one option to be advanced, though, so Sound Transit is also studying two tunnel options. Either of these tunnel options would require funding, from the city of Bellevue, above and beyond what Sound Transit can provide. The original C3T tunnel option could require as much as $500 million, and while the new 110th tunnel option would be cheaper, it’s unlikely to cut that number in half.

Bellevue presented a list of possible funding sources to Sound Transit at last week’s board meeting, but the final funding proposal will have to be made next year – after new Bellevue City Council members are seated.

With Kemper Freeman, Jr. assisting several of the campaigns in an attempt to get a light rail-unfriendly council elected, it’s especially important that we not ignore this race. Fortunately for us, there are several very good candidates!

Mike Creighton
Mike Creighton

The first good candidate is Mike Creighton. Mike has been involved at the local level in Bellevue for some thirty years, starting as a member of the School Board in 1980. He’s served on the Bellevue City Council before, and even served as Mayor for two years (the Bellevue City Council elects a Mayor from their members). He retired in 2003, but was appointed this year to fill Phil Noble’s seat. He’s served on the PSRC’s transportation policy board, and King County’s growth management planning council. He has a long list of good endorsements, including Mayor Degginger and former mayor Connie Marshall. We’d like to add to that list by endorsing him for Bellevue City Council position 7.

orrico
Vicki Orrico

The second is Vicki Orrico. Vicki is extremely involved in light rail planning, and as current chair of the Bellevue Planning Commission worked on the Bel-Red Corridor Plan to build TOD around East Link light rail stations. She’s even been endorsed by the Cascade Bicycle Club! Against her is Conrad Lee, a Kemperite and PRT advocate. Orrico has shown a solid understanding of planning principles and understands how to make sure East Link is effective – she earns our endorsement for position 2.

Patsy-Bonincontri
Patsy Bonincontri

Patsy Bonincontri was appointed to fill Connie Marshall’s seat. She served on the Sound Transit Citizen Oversight Panel for four years, previously chaired the Bellevue Planning Commision, and holds a degree in architecture. She’s running against developer Kevin Wallace, and her time so far on the Council has shown that she’s not afraid to take a stand to defend a good light rail alignment. Surrey Downs residents started talking about running someone against her right after the February vote. We endorse Bonincontri for position 4.

Michael Marchand
Michael Marchand

Finally, we have Michael Marchand, running against incumbent (and Kemperite) Don Davidson. Marchand has written about his opposition to the Kemper anti light rail lawsuit on his Bellevue Reporter blog, and I highly recommend the post. His attitude seems to match that of STB (and mine) very closely – he hits the nail on the head with one sentence:

With our region’s population predicted to nearly double by 2040 (for a great PSRC presentation click here), do we really think that all these people will be able to get around Bellevue using only cars and roads?

That’s his PSRC link, not ours (although we fixed it, PSRC seems to have pulled the document). This guy really gets it about what has to happen in the next couple of decades. We happily endorse him for position 6.

Our editorial board is Martin H. Duke, Ben Schiendelman, and John Jensen, with valued input from the rest of the staff. Read our Seattle City Council and King County Executive endorsements, our endorsement for Seattle Mayor and our endorsement of a ‘no’ vote on I-1033.

16 Replies to “Bellevue City Council Endorsements”

  1. I heard once that a incumbent has never lost a race in Bellevue, I hope that changes this time.

    I watch many most of the Bellevue Council meetings and just have to say that Conrad Lee usually rambles on and makes no sense, and Don Davidson is a classic old school car centric 50’s man.

    We have ZERO bike lanes in DT Bellevue and terrible bike cross city connections. We desperately need more mid block ped crossings, a few are being talked about but slow to implement. We need to shorten the light cycles, it’s hard enough being a ped around here without waiting for a long light cycle, then waiting for the left turners, then finally getting a chance to cross 5 or 6 lanes without being hit.

    Bellevue could become a great city if we had the right leadership.

  2. So a light rail tunnel in downtown Bellevue probably costs a minimum of $300 million more than a surface option, though it also provides for a faster trip and avoids delays for other vehicles (including buses headed to BTC), which is certainly worth something.

    Can someone remind me why we are not still looking at an elevated option? Wouldn’t it provide cost savings versus the tunnel as well as more mobility than a surface option? Wouldn’t it be less impactful to construct? Is it concerns about urban design? Why is it OK to have rivers full of traffic in a canyon made of skyscrapers but it’s not OK to run a clean electric elevated train in public ROW that animates the landscape, advertises itself and provides for a more enjoyable ride than either a tunnel or surface route? It would have to be supported by columns, but wouldn’t that still take up less room than a surface option?

    I’m not opposed to a tunnel per se. I am just wondering why the elevated concept doesn’t get more love. Not sure if any of the Bellevue candidates have expressed opinions on this.

    1. It’s largely concerns about urban design. To see some of the discussion, you may want to go over the sound transit board meetings in which the options were discussed, and the documents submitted by the City of Bellevue.

      Nobody here is saying it’s OK to have highways through a city center either. I’m generally against any general purpose lane expansion.

      An elevated train really does have a big negative impact on the surrounding businesses. Pedestrians don’t like walking under a big concrete thing whether it’s a train or an offramp, and it’s tough to find uses for the space underneath (especially in a fairly ped-empty downtown like Bellevue) so that it doesn’t become a homeless haven.

      The Bellevue candidates probably haven’t expressed opinions on it because it hasn’t been on the table.

      1. Ben, please don’t spread the same kind of FUD we dealt with during the monorail campaign… There’s simply little evidence that an elevated train has a big negative impact on businesses.

        Our monorail runs past businesses and restaurants and condos that are performing just fine.

        And we can now look to the area around Mt. Baker Station to see if folks will build TOD and open thriving new businesses around elevated light rail.

      2. The residents and city government of Bellevue has made it pretty clear that an elevated alignment through downtown is their least favorite option.

    1. Bernie, I just checked the PDC site. You’re confused.

      I see the $1000 contribution from Kemper Holdings. It’s to Conrad Lee, on 07/08/2009. Here’s the PDF: http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/39870/LEE%20CONRAD%20S.pdf

      There is no match when searching for a contribution to Vicki Orrico from Kemper.

      It is very easy to confuse the PDC’s search system, so I don’t blame you for making the mistake.

      1. I apologize. I am wrong and John you are correct; the website has serious flaws. Neither candidate for position 2 has a contribution from Kemper Holdings on 9/19. This had me very confused since I cut and pasted that from the PDC website. If you have two tabs open in Firefox you can pull up the donations for one candidate with a different candidates name at the top of the page. The $1000 donation from Kemper on 9/19 was to the Robertson Campaign. You can also get it to display Phyllis Orrico as the top donor to the Conrad Lee campaign. I’ll go crawl back under a rock :-(

      2. Heh! No, it’s okay. When I was futzing with it, I got this contribution to disappear entirely (with two tabs open), and then I just tried saving out PDFs wherever I was and figured out it could only handle one tab at once – and even then, I had to start again from a new browser window once I had it in that state.

      3. Bernie,

        Although you made a mistake, I applaud you for actually going out and checking our facts.

        And if you want to vote for Conrad Lee based on his perceived attention to “the little guy” and “neighborhoods”, that’s obviously your prerogative. Just know the implications that might have for the Link alignment and the future of the BNSF corridor.

    2. Quit it with the “little guy” talk. You indeed are mistaken. A quick look on Conrad Lee’s website > Endorsements. CTRL+F: “Kemper Freeman” and what do you know? He’s right there. And what else? Conrad Lee had the nerve to attend Sunday morning service at my church to campaign. Know most of you all aren’t big church-goers, but I am and Conrad Lee is a textbook definition of a established politician. Pretty disingenuous stuff, but getting back to issues, he is definitely the “more buses, more roads!” guy.

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