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!
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.
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 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.
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.