Here are Seattle Transit Blog’s endorsements for the November 8th general election. As always, our endorsements are meant to focus entirely on their transit and land use positions. Readers can apply other criteria as they wish.
Our editorial board consists of Martin H. Duke, Adam Parast, and Sherwin Lee, with valued input from the rest of the staff. We relied extensively on both an STB questionnaire and one from the Transit Riders’ Union. You can also consult the King County voters’ guide.
This post covers ballot measures, King County, City of Seattle, and City of Bellevue councils. We’ll follow up with other races in a few days.
Seattle Proposition 1: YES. A $60 vehicle license fee doesn’t cover all of the city’s transportation needs, but it makes a sizeable dent. It will help to reduce the road maintenance backlog, improve bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and spend about 50% of the revenue on transit, making it faster, more reliable, easier to access, and less dependent on petroleum. It also takes small steps towards higher capacity streetcars on Seattle’s busiest corridors. Moreover, the VLF benefits the city’s poorest who can’t afford a car in the first place.
Initiative 1125: NO. There is nothing to like about I-1125. The initiative prevents variable tolling, doesn’t allow tolls to be used to fund transit, and blocks East Link over I-90. Adding further litigation and funding uncertainty to state mega-projects is counterproductive. It should go without saying that East Link is one of our largest priorities, and this initiative would kill it. Congestion-based tolling is the only way to tackle congestion in the long term. I-1125 sends us back to the 1950s in both respects. Tell Tim Eyman and Kemper Freeman that they’re out of touch with Washingtonians’ priorities by voting No on I-1125.
King County Council, Position 6. Richard Mitchell is running against incumbent Jane Hague and holds a number of positions that we like, including support for long-term sustainable transit funding and emphasis on productivity; he’s also shown a firm grasp on the importance of land use in the transportation discussion. We are, however, very skeptical of his ideas on transit agency consolidation. To her credit, Ms. Hague did help broker the deal to pass the $20 CRC and eliminate the ride-free area. Although she did the right thing in the end, she was still willing to accept draconian cuts unless her second-order concerns were addressed. That’s just not good enough with a strong transit advocate like Richard Mitchell in the race.
King County Council, Position 8. Joe McDermott has had a short but impressive term on the Council since he replaced Dow Constantine. His positions are similar to Mr. Constantine’s — solid support for preserving and reforming Metro service while proceeding with Sound Transit’s buildout. Mr. McDermott’s opponent doesn’t appear to have a transportation emphasis.
Seattle City Council, Position 1. Bobby Forch has experience managing capital projects for SDOT, is a strong supporter of the VLF, and has several interesting ideas for transportation improvements, like making 3rd Avenue transit-only all-day. The incumbent, Jean Godden, championed the least aggressive, most road-oriented version of what became Proposition 1.
Seattle City Council, Position 3. The incumbent, Bruce Harrell, has basically sound views on transit that are “centrist” by Seattle standards. Transportation has not been one of his areas of focus on the Council. That’d be enough for a pass in many cases, but Brad Meacham absolutely hits it out of the park. He’s been aggressive in advocating for more funding for transit, and his ideas make it obvious that he’s used transit for a long time and been thoughtful about his experiences.
Seattle City Council, Position 5. Tom Rasmussen is also basically a transit centrist by Seattle standards: eager to grow the transit pie, a little squishy on density, pro-tunnel, and so on. As Chair of the Transportation Committee, he’s the architect of the $60 VLF as much as anyone (for better or worse), and has had a positive impact on the recent Metro dramas. We yearn for more progressive voices on the Council, but opponent Dale Pusey is not it. Pusey opposes the VLF, demand-based parking fees, and is broadly anti-streetcar.
Seattle City Council, Position 7. Tim Burgess is a solid contributor on the City Council. He’s been a leader on upzoning, market-based street parking, and is supportive of Prop. 1. We’d like it if he were sometimes a bit more aggressive on our issues, but the fact remains that policy-wise he’s the second strongest Councilmember behind Mike O’Brien. Opponent David Schraer says a lot of wonderful things about density, but he seems very dismissive of the environmental concerns that led many people to oppose the DBT. Tim Burgess is an effective advocate for good policy and deserves another term.
Seattle City Council, Position 9. Sally Clark won our primary endorsement as a positive force to improve Seattle’s zoning codes, although as chair of the land use committee, we think she could be much more forceful in that area. Her opponent, Dian Ferguson, opposes our values in almost every dimension: railing against density increases around light rail stations; emphasizing more government-mandated parking everywhere; opposing transit, bike, and pedestrian improvements; and so on.
Bellevue City Council, Position 1. John Stokes is running for Grant Degginger’s open seat, Bellevue’s most hotly contested position. His attitude towards transit are consistent with our views: strong support for East Link, development in the Bel-Red Corridor, and more sustainable taxing authority for transit funding. His opponent, Aaron Laing, is affiliated with Building a Better Bellevue, a neighborhood organization which has been hostile towards Sound Transit and East Link.
Bellevue City Council, Position 3. John Chelminiak has been a staunch proponent of East Link over his tenure on the city council, even authoring a guest piece for us this past May debunking a common talking point among B7 supporters. His general positions on transit are fairly solid, including support for transit signal priority and minimization of cash-fare payment. Opponent Michelle Hilhorst is being backed by developer Kemper Freeman and has not expressed convincing support for any positions that would be considered pro-transit.
Bellevue City Council, Position 5. Claudia Balducci is Bellevue’s purest transit advocate and deserves another term on the council. Her strong support for East Link and transit are supplemented by her impressive transportation resume, which not only includes a seat on the Sound Transit Board, but one on the PSRC Transportation Policy Board as well. Her opponent, Patti Mann, has expressed opposition to ST’s preferred East Link alignment, has no public office experience and is endorsed by a slew of transit opponents.