King County Elections
King County Elections

The Transit Riders’ Union did what we should have, and sent a questionnaire to all Seattle City Council, County Executive, and Seattle Mayoral candidates.  They ask pretty much the questions that I would ask.

If you’re undecided and care about our issues this read is indispensable.

Initial impressions: David Ginsberg is a really strong candidate and I wish he were running against someone other than Conlin; Jesse Israel is good, more than just “not Licata”; Rosencrantz (running against O’Brien) is far worse than I realized.

The non-responses by Susan Hutchison and Joe Mallahan continue a trend of not  taking transit advocates and their issues seriously.

20 Replies to “Candidate Questionnaire”

  1. I browsed Ginsberg’s responses and am forced to agree. Maybe I’ll write him in for position 4.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read the questionnaire. It’s been particularly tough to get my message out since Seattle became a one newspaper town earlier this year, and what little press we have left has been disappointing across the board, not only in my race but even more so in the Mayor’s race where the stakes are much higher. I have been, from the start, the most pro-transit and particularly pro-rail candidate running for any office in the city. But even when I talk to reporters about building a 21st century rail network to provide fast, frequent and reliable transit to all our urban villages and urban centers, the story always ends up being about the tunnel or about how I’m critical of the Seattle process. So, to you and to Marty and to all the others who’ve actually taken the time to look at this questionnaire and/or others, or checked out my website a very sincere thank you.

  2. Thanks for the post, Martin!

    We’re slowly building the organization, but this was something the Steering Committee felt was too important to pass up this cycle. As the readers here know, this election could radically affect how money gets allocated on transportation projects in the region, IF there’s money to allocate, and what happens to Metro and nominations for the ST Board!

    Perhaps we can get together for a Meetup sometime soon?

    1. Personally, I think the transit community spends way too much time defending transit, with the roads-centric community defining the argument, usually by cherry-picking statistics from various project EIS’s and framing the arguments to favor roads. In a “Of course, it’s common sense!” way.

      Bring the argument TO THEM!

      Simply by making them EXPLAIN, (simply) HOW CONGESTION RELIEF WORKS.

      I don’t live in King County nor Seattle, so I won’t get a chance to stick my nose into this like I would, but some vocal soul down there should pin them against the wall on this.

      You don’t even have to go near the social/political aspects.


      Once you do the simple math, road building is the most expesive way to solve our mobility issues in the region.


      1. Well, Jim, I know I don’t engage in this argument any more.

        1) Transit is not about congestion relief, it’s about providing choices.

        For many people, the SOV is their ONLY choice right now. We need to change that. Sitting in traffic or driving around and around in circles looking for a parking space are not wise uses of time either.

        2) We have actual research data which proves that building more lanes of road does NOT reduce congestion in the long-term. In fact, it often increases congestion on connector routes.

      2. My point is that major transit infrastructure projects have most always been put to a public vote.

        Both Sound Transit initiatives had defined projects, revenue sources, boundaries, and benefits to be scrutinized.

        When was the last time the public had a similarly defined intitiative/referendum to vote on? (Not including the 9.5 cent increase, since it had no RTA like boundaries, being a statewide vote)

        Even the Roads and Transit ballot measure failed, and given that ST2 passed, it could be argued that the ‘albatross’ in this case was the roads portion.

        What I’m suggesting is that transit proponents should stop arguing defensively, and take the road-building proponents head on,
        basing your argument simply on the costs and benefits of the proposed solution.

        Make THEM paint thier picture, to be defended against the critics.

        I would argue that your point #1, isn’t entirely true. Transit can have an effect on congestion. Witness when the I-5 Expansion Joint problem came up south of downtown. Sounder saw a large increase in ridership, and at the same time the dreaded backups never materialized.

        Why? Because if you analyze HOW a new freeway lane relieves congestion, it becomes apparent how and why all the new Sounder riders during that time positively affected the traffic flow.

        I would also argue with point #2, in that building more lanes does relieve congestion. That is proven. However, when you explore (again), the How and Why of congestion relief via new freeway lanes works, the two questions left are 1)How much do you want to spend? and 2) What do you want the place to look like when you’re done?

        From my time on the I-405 Program Citizens Committee, I have research data up the Kazoo on this (not a pretty sight), and even though I had characterized my own viewpoint at that time as slightly ‘pie-in-the-sky’ rail advocate, I am now convinced that a transit solution (and specifically rail transit) is CHEAPER than a road building solution.

        Force Susan Hutchinson to flesh out her ‘congestion relief’ proposal.

        Make it see the light of day, and it will become obvious.

        Building roads is the pie-in-the-sky approach.


  3. I tried to fire out a question for Hutchison about her “cab is faster than light rail” comment on the Times Q&A, but they chose another question in lieu of mine, which simply asked if she voted for light rail (ST2). Her response:

    “Yes I voted for light rail. I like light rail and have used it in cities throughout the country and around the world. We should have acted 20 years sooner to get it up and running, and now that we have approved its expansion we need to make sure Sound Transit plans for congestion relief as a primary goal. Get the commuters onto light rail by providing Park and Rides and Metro Bus connections at the light rail stations. I envision a great future for mass transportation but the policies we embrace today will determine that future.”

    It sounds nice until you watch what she said on KOMO. When Dow said that her supporters were the very ones suing to block light rail, Hutchison simply said that they weren’t “opposing light rail”, they were simply opposing using “gas tax money to fund it.” We all know both parts of that statement aren’t true. It just proves she believes that using the I-90 right-of-way as a guideway is “unconstitutional.” Does she really support light rail? Maybe only through a populist outlook to appease the public mandate. But after her wild cab comment, it’s pretty clear there’s nothing she can say that won’t hide the truth.

  4. Hm McGinn says he doesn’t like Link’s routing north of Northgate. Have any other routes been studied?

    1. Sound Transit did some very preliminary evaluation of 99 vs I-5. It is on the planning part of the website somewhere. I’ll post a link when I dig it up.

  5. From McGinn’s response:

    My goal is to banish the phrase “overcrowded bus” from our vocabulary. If you walk to your bus stop, you should have frequent, reliable, comfortable transit service to get you where you need to go.

    This is the wrong goal. If you never have an overcrowded bus, you either are not attracting enough riders, or you’re wasting money providing too much service. I agree with the part about frequent, reliable and comfortable service but if that means sometimes having to stand for a while in close proximity to your fellow travellers, there’s nothing wrong with that.

    1. There’s a difference between crowded and overcrowded. Having plenty of people standing is just crowded. Having so many people crammed in like sardines that the bus driver is forced to pass up a lot of people is overcrowding, and should be fixed.

      1. People will apply their own prejudices to the term. Your and my “crowded” may well be someone else’s notion of “overcrowded”. If you can’t get a seat, is it overcrowded?

        Yes, a bus that is at crush loads thru most of the day needs more service, but if all buses at all times are “comfortable”, there are places where you could be spending your money better. I agree with the sentiment, but it’s too strongly worded.

      2. i wouldn’t try to read too much into the statement – my personal take on the response is to interpret mcginn as saying he intends to prioritize service and equipment allocation to routes where there is high demand.

        there are some routes in the system that have such high ridership that, given existing headways and equipment, have to end up leaving passengers behind waiting for the next bus, or in cramped, uncomfortable and potentially unsafe conditions. in my own experience, peak-hour trips on the 71/72/73, 10, 1/2/3/4, 48, 7, 8 (prior to the service change and addition of 60-foot coaches), and others, that suffer from overcrowding on a fairly regular basis. i’m pretty happy to see commitment from mcginn to help address overcrowding – it’s good to see a mayoral candidate paying attention to the day-to-day issues that impact transit riders.

        of course, i’m also happy to see the 2+1 seating pilot metro is running on coach 4186 – “little” innovations like that also are a cheap(er) way of improving conditions for riders when buses are overloaded. i’d really like to catch a ride on one of those coaches – if anyone out there could give me a heads up on where to find one in service in the next few days, i’d love to take a ride and get a sense for it myself.

      3. Overcrowded is when people have to stnad in front of the yellow line and on the door stairs on the high-floor coaches.

  6. What about Rosencrantz was so bad? I actually found him far more supportive of transit than I expected. He favors getting rid of the requirement for parking at new residential developments, and he’s ridden the bus about 100 times in the last year, which is probably more times than Susan Hutchison has taken the bus in her lifetime.

    I do not like his opposition to upzoning single family areas, but I wasn’t really surprised by that.

    Overall, he’s not an ideal candidate from a transit perspective, but he’s no Kemper Freeman.

    1. There’s a lot of space between “good candidate” and “Kemper Freeman”. Some problems that jump out:
      – He’s against more tax revenue for Metro, and lukewarm about Metro making more cash for itself.
      – Not happy with the Streetcar
      – Supportive of the terrible Stanton/Rice governance reform proposal.
      – No upzones of single-family neighborhoods.

      1. the most obvious thing to me was that his questionnaire had unarguably the softest position of the bunch on the 18th amendment. if you look at the rest of the questionnaire responses, there’s a very consistent and solid commitment of support to overturning the gas-tax-only-to-highways law. a weak position on that issue is quite striking.

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