Here are STB’s endorsements for the November 2nd general election. As always, these picks are meant to reflect solely the performance and positions on issues covered by this blog, not by their broader political philosophy, progressive or otherwise.

While many state legislative races are happening this year, there are typically only a few candidates that make a real, positive difference on transit and land use.

STB’s editorial board consists of Martin H. Duke, Adam Parast, Sherwin Lee, and John Jensen, with valued input from the rest of the staff.


Patty Murray (U.S. Senate), who as a senior member of the  Senate Appropriations Committee, is well-positioned to deliver competitive federal transit dollars to Washington, a capability she has  frequently demonstrated. She is one of the few central figures in getting Link built, and deserves to continue to help make our local tax  dollars go farther.

Initiative 1053: NO. This year’s Eyman entry would require a two-thirds majority in the legislature to raise any tax. While our layman’s reading is that this wouldn’t actually affect delegation of taxing authority to transit agencies and such, the State does directly fund HOV and intercity rail projects that we support. Any reduction in sales tax exemptions puts money in the pockets of transit agencies. Moreover, we strongly support increased gas taxes, and especially elimination of the sales tax exemption for gasoline. While these are politically out of reach for the moment, with Initiative 1053 they become forever impossible.

Initiative 1107: NO. Sales tax exemptions affect not only state revenue, but all governments and agencies that use sales tax. Repealing the tax on candy and bottled water would cost, by our rough estimate, Metro $3m a year each in 2012 and 2013, and Sound Transit somewhat more than that. That amounts to roughly 24,000 service hours a year.

Charlie Wiggins (Supreme Court Position 6). His opponent, Richard Sanders, sided with the “Sane Transit” people in an early attempt to kill Sound Transit and wrote a dissent that would have hurt ST’s bond rating with I-776. In both cases, he was skewered by the majority, perhaps showing poor legal reasoning. Sanders has also been on the wrong side of Sound Transit in an eminent domain case.

More below the jump…


Bellingham Proposition 1: YES. In the wake of Whatcom Transit Authority’s ballot failure earlier this year, the City of Bellingham approved a Transportation Benefit District and put a 0.2% sales tax increase on November’s ballot. The measure will raise about $4m for street paving, restored Sunday bus service, and bike/ped improvements. More transit and non-motorized funding reduces car dependence, and WTA has innovative projects that deserve public support. Vote yes.


Marko Liias (21st District, Edmonds) was the champion of the transit funding bill that died in the Senate in 2010. Together with Simpson, he is one of the two best pro-transit legislators in Olympia at the moment.

Chris Reykdal (22nd District, Olympia) is unusual in not only supporting more transit  investment, but also understanding that more highways work directly against the objectives of that investment. His relevant positions include “uphold the core values of the Growth Management Act – focus on  urban density to avoid rural sprawl”, “adopt constitutional and  statutory changes that permit gasoline taxes  to be used more flexibly,”  and “move our focus away from increasing highway capacity and towards  more sustainable public transportation options.” That’s a slam dunk.

Jake Fey (27th  District, Tacoma) is a Tacoma City Councilmember and serves on the  Sound Transit board. Over 6 years of service in Tacoma, he has advocated  for mixed-use transit-oriented centersComplete Streets, and the Bike/Ped Plan.  Olympia needs more representatives that understand urban land use and  transportation issues, as well as the issues facing Sound Transit. If  that weren’t enough, he’s been endorsed by 27th District resident and Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl.

Joe Fitzgibbon (34th District, West Seattle/Burien). His primary governmental experience is as legislative aide to outgoing Representative and Senatorial candidate Sharon Nelson, one of the few legislators to understand transit and land use issues. Fitzgibbon has won her endorsement. On his website he has the most explicitly pro-transit, pro-rail platform in any race: he is for extending Sound Transit’s taxing authority to accelerate an ST3 vote, the right position on the single most important issue in the legislature for rail activists. He also wants to extend taxing authority for other transit agencies.

Geoff Simpson (47th District, Covington) has for years been the most reliably good legislator. The correctness of his positions is all the more  astounding given his rural/exurban district.

42 Replies to “2010 General Election Endorsements”

  1. Go Patty Murray! She has been a power house for our State and long may she run and stay in office! A fourth term would ensure her as a power figure in the Senate at an especially vulnerable time for Democrats.

    As always down to all measures with Eyman’s name anywhere on it.

    I would only add to the above list that local finances would benefit from voting yes on the income tax measure (1098)

    1. That income tax is a farce.
      We should let Washington remain a very friendly state to business so that we can continue to have a slightly stronger economy than the rest of the country. now is NOT the time to mess with it.
      Rich people create jobs, taking their money away does the state no good at all!

      1. I don’t know that I’d call Washington “business friendly”, more like “business neutral”, at best. It wasn’t friendly enough to keep Boeing from moving it’s HQ to Chicago.

      2. Trickle down economics is a farce. The regressiveness of our current tax structure is an unsustainable embarrassment and injustice that is desperate for reform. 1098 is a step in the that direction.

      3. My guess is that B&O taxes seem far more hostile to potential new/relocating businesses than any tax on earned income could ever be.

        The way Washingtonians recoil at the very idea of an income tax, something that functions in 41 states — including corporate-haven Delaware — doesn’t speak well to their ability look to the outside world for problem-solving ideas.

        Sort of reminds me of Metro’s habit of doing everything differently than anywhere else, with unequivocally poor results.

      4. Eliminate the sales tax and replace it with an income tax I’m open to that. Added to the existing tax base instead of changing it… no.

      5. I’m with you on replacing all (or at least most) of the state sales tax with a graduated income tax.

        If our legislature had the slightest shred of political guts and the intellectual wherewithal to counter years of robotic “Washingtonians fear income taxes” dittoheadism with actual, persuasive facts, we could be thinking about doing so in the short term rather than the long term.

        But for this election cycle, I fail to see why anyone would object to instituting a new tax that only hits those who currently pay the tiniest share of their income in other taxes!

      6. IF you hit those people, they will discharge their housekeepers (groundskeepers, etc.) to stay afloat, and while you may not care about the “hardship” imposed on them, think about the hardship imposed on the employees they drop at the first sign of financial trouble.
        Seriously, this state is consistently ranked as one of the top ten states for business, and part of that is because we don’t take money from people that have it just because they have it. Perhaps our current tax system is regressive, but frankly, our state seems to be holding up much better than most of the rest of the states!

        If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!

        Thats not to dismiss our current budget problems as non-existant, however, it is my opinion that we just need to manage on less income as a state instead of taxing more out of people that don’t have money to spend without it hurting other people. That is the only way our income will recover in a “timely” fashion.

        Taxing people more will lead to less spending, and slower economic growth, regardless of who you’re taxing.

      7. I fundamentally disagree with your assessment that Washington is in better financial straits than the rest of the country and that our tax system “isn’t broken.”

        Even in flush times, every basic service and legitimate program were pitted against one another for slices of an underbaked pie. You couldn’t propose anything worthwhile without stacking sales tax upon sales tax, further penalizing the bottom 95% of earners.

        Now, though every program and government service has been mercilessly slashed, the sales tax measures for bare essentials like police keep coming, and everyone’s still in the hole!

        If you’re a lowly librarian, you got weeks of unexpected and unpaid vacation this year. And you probably still had to buy some household essentials during that time (on which you paid 10% sales tax). But, yeah, robber-barons are totally gonna skimp on gardening expenditures if they suddenly have to pay slightly more than 2.3% of their income in taxes. Totally!

        “Voodoo Economics” — the only thing that a Bush ever got right!

      8. @Alex So taxing the poor to make up for the rich not paying an equal percentage will ensure the poor will keep their jobs? Is that the logic you’re standing by?

      9. I know people in that income bracket, and I know for certain that they would have to let people go if yet another 2.3% of their income just disappeared.

        Most people who make over 200,000$ are NOT Robber Barons anyways. The people I know in that bracket spend darn close to all of that money, be it on property taxes/mortgages, keeping their homes nice, sending their kids to good schools, Charities.

        They spend quite a bit on charities.

        and besides, our property tax hits them proportionally to their income in Washington (for most of that bracket anyways) I really don’t see how our tax system is SOOOO Broken.

      10. “I know people in that income bracket, and I know for certain that they would have to let people go if yet another 2.3% of their income just disappeared.”

        Except that paying employees is a deductible business expense that reduces a business’s income. Also: Unless I misunderstand 1098, it’s not a business income tax. Subchapter C and S corps and LLCs would be able to retain profits to invest and hire new employees. It’s when the owners decide to take profits out of the business, in the form of dividends, that they would pay income taxes.

        Feel free to clarify, but this whole “income tax will cost jobs” idea just seems silly to me given how businesses actually pay taxes.

      11. Forget about the effect reducing someones income by 2% might have on them hiring a direct employ. Think instead of that $4,000 no longer being spent in the local community. A small business owner at this point in the economy is likely pretty lean on employees. In fact I’d wager most of the truly small mom and pop business are primarily a family affair. But they might decide to spend less at the beauty salon or on landscape gardeners, etc. All of which slows down the velocity of money meaning that their business in turn will see a downturn which multiplies the effect of the tax increase. Why do you think the Fed is talking about QE2 (printing money)? A tax increase has the exact opposite effect.

      12. It’s not like the money going into State coffers just evaporates, it gets spent too. You can argue about whether those expenditures are valid functions of government, but it seems pretty obvious that money spent on education (either K-12 or higher education) as well as healthcare circulates in the economy just as quickly as money spent at the Beauty Salon.

        Heck, you can argue that spending on these items is actually kept more local since most consumer goods are imported from overseas.

  2. Why do deadbeat Washingtonians always want Federal dollars “to be delivered” to them. Is this whole state on Welfare?

    How about raising property taxes on all the gazillionaires so you guys can pay for what you use?

    1. Says the man who rides the most heavily subsidized form of transit in the region (Sounder) and lives in a flood plain protected by a federal dam.

    2. Because one of the jobs of our elected officials in the other washington is to “bring home the bacon”? Theres money out there, and if they are not trying to bring it home to washington than they are not doing their jobs. If we dont get it here, someone else will get it…

      1. Or start paying down the debt. Interest ($414 billion for Fiscal Year 2010 amounts to a bigger portion of the pie than the entire transportation budget ($91 billion depending on what you count, SAFETEA-LU is about $72 billion a year). Pork barrel politics as it’s been practiced in DC (by both parties) is a tit for tat game. It’s awfully hard to say no to someone else’s request for more bacon when you’re asking for pickled pigs feet. I don’t think running up the credit card constituents doing their jobs; at least it’s not doing a the job well.

    3. As opposed to the deadbeats in the 37 states (2005 data) that receive more Federal dollars in return for the Federal taxes they pay?

    4. For every $1.00 Washington invests in the federal government, $0.88 come back.

      Compare that to Mississippi (which gets $2.02 for every $1, or Alaska which gets $1.84).

      With a freshmen senator, that $0.88 WILL get lower (especially since he’s “promised” to never use earmarks).

      1. Arizona gets $327 million in earmarks but $1.19 returned for every $1 sent to DC. WA by contrast gets $1,271 million from earmarked funds. Of course AZ pays 1.76% of the total federal income tax and Washington pays 2.37% (data here)but I think it’s clear that earmarks don’t really effect the State by State distribution (redistribution?) but they are often the hiding place for complete government waste.

    5. BailOut,

      Washington gets back eighty-nine cents for each dollar it sends to Washington over the ten year period through 2008. It may indeed be a little higher now that Patty is high up in the Senate leadership. But it’s certainly not at parity.

      You know the states who DO get more than they give? Those examplars of rugged individualism Alaska, Mississippi, Alabama, and New Mexico. While New Mexico is a pale blue because of its Hispanics, the other three are red in tooth and claw.

      Republicans, the REAL socialists.

      1. So, you’re say’n, if we really want to get some fat back on our bacon elect Republicans? You heard it here folks; elect Rossi and bring Washington dollars back from Washington.

    1. You’d be wrong, according to Forbes Washington is one of the best states for business and one of the best places to start a business.

  3. As for Initiatives out this year I say YES on 1098 and NO on both 1100 and 1105.

    1098 would help the revenue situation for the state by enacting a high-earners income tax.

    While 1100 and 1105 would appear to be about liquor they also would drastically reduce the revenue the state currently gets from liquor sales. We’re not talking chump change either, according to the Department of Revenue the initiatives would cost anywhere from $300 to $700 million a year in revenue that would have to be made up elsewhere. Not a good thing when we’re trying to get funding for HOV lanes or Cascades out of Olympia.

    1. WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY would ANYONE vote yes on 1098?

      You aren’t going to get to simply rob the rich like the pro people tell you! Within 5 years everyone making more than 50k a year will be paying income tax on top of 10% sales tax!

      Why do you people hate your money so much?

      1. “Within 5 years everyone making more than 50k a year will be paying income tax on top of 10% sales tax!”

        Not true. The rates and income levels can’t be changed without a public vote. That said, if inflation comes back with a vengeance, then as incomes rise people may find themselves paying the income tax. Given that we’re worrying about DEflation right now, so I don’t see that as a huge concern for quite some time.

        As for “why”, well, if you believe that the State’s taxation system is regressive and an income tax would help resolve some of that issue, that’s one good reason.

        Another good reason: Greed. 98%+ of us won’t pay the tax, it’ll cut everybody’s property taxes by 20%, and it will cut the B&O taxes of most small businesses.

        I kind of have trouble with voting to tax *other* people. Then again, there are many rich folks behind this thing. I’d love to see a poll on those who would pay the tax – *that* would be interesting.

      2. You are wrong, the legislature can change the tax levels after two years without a public vote.

      3. Geoff, care to back up that statement with some citations?

        I just read through the State Voters’ Pamphlet. In the summary for 1098, on page 19, it reads, “The measure would provide that the tax imposed may not be increased for any income level without a majority vote of the legislature and approval of the voters in an election.” [emphasis mine]

        Further, in the full text of the Initiative it goes on to say:
        Page 81, Part VI, Sec. 601: “It is the intent of this act that in no event may excise tax be imposed upon joint adjusted gross income below $400,000 ($200,000 for individuals). No provisions of this chapter may allow the imposition of tax upon joint income below $400,000 ($200,000 for individuals).”

        Page 84, Part X, Sec. 1004: “The excise tax rates in section 501 of this act may not be increased for any income level without a majority vote of the legislature and submission of the changes to the people for approval.”

        Unless I missed it, I don’t see any support for your statements that people making $50K/year will get an income tax in 5 years, or that the legislature will be able to change tax levels after 2 years without a public vote.

      4. “They’ll change it in two years without a public vote” is a favorite of the anti crowd. It’s a reference to the two-year grace period while the legislature can’t change inititaves. Either they’re ignoring those protections, or assuming the legislature will just strip them out.

      5. If you really think the legislature can’t get around that then I can’t help you. Bottom line is, once you allow an income tax it is there forever. You can’t just stick it to the so called rich and get a free ride. The world doesn’t work that way.

        In a few years we will hear all about the state not getting enough money from the current rates and they will lower the income requirements.

        And honestly, it doesn’t matter if it does end up as a public vote, because the money hating whackos in this state will swallow whatever spoon full of garbage their elected officials shovel in their mouths.

      6. @Geoff, so what you’re saying is you’re afraid of the flying spaghetti monster if there is one? How about we focus on what’s real and not your paranoia. In the first two years they need a 2/3s vote to extend the income tax to other groups. After 2 years they need a majority vote. If we (the majority) are voting in these people and they want to continue that trend then why would the majority extend it?

  4. I really wish STB would endorse in the 41st district. Steve Litzow is an avowed light rail critic who has worked actively with Jim Horn over the years to subvert expansion of the LInk system to the east side. He was on the losing end of a 5-2 vote by the Mercer Island city council against the agreement in 2004 that cleared the way for light rail on I-90.

    1. On the other hand, this is the only thing Randy Gordon says about transit, so far as I can tell, on his Web site (I don’t know if it’s good or bad):

      “Spearheading bipartisan support on the Senate floor during the passage of HB 2179 with bipartisan support, allowing cities to enter private contracts for additional transit services with area companies (i.e. Microsoft, T-Mobile, etc.)”

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