Thanks in part to contributions from light rail arch-opponent Kemper Freeman and his allies, in 2009 Bellevue elected a new 4-3 majority on the Bellevue City Council that later expressed its intent to change Sound Transit’s preferred South Bellevue alignment to the “B7” alignment along the BNSF railroad right of way. Although this would cost more to generate the same number of boardings and introduce new technical and schedule risks, it also would reduce impacts to vocal neighborhoods like Surrey Downs.
In 2011, four councilmembers will have their terms expire: B7 advocate Jennifer Robertson, and all three that prefer the Sound Transit preferred alignment: Grant Degginger, Claudia Balducci, and John Chelminiak.
Mr. Degginger has elected not to run again. His seat will be contested by well-funded Aaron Laing, supported by both Mr. Freeman and pro-B7 focal point Kevin Wallace, and John Stokes, who has not yet raised any money, has not expressed an opinion on the alignment, but the Times reports “he thinks enough study has been done for Sound Transit and the city to agree on a route.”
Mr. Chelminiak is opposed by Michelle Hilhorst. I have an email in to Ms. Hilhorst asking for her position on the B Segment.
Ms. Robertson is running unopposed, so there is no opportunity to reverse the majority in this cycle.
Seattle City Council races get a lot more attention, but Bellevue is a big and important city that will receive a lot of light rail investment over the next two decades. Although it would be premature to label the Freeman-backed candidates as “anti-rail,” these races are well worth your time and money.