Dow Constantine

King County Executive: incumbent Dow Constantine emerged four years ago from a strong field. He has governed with such proficiency and diplomacy that he has not drawn a serious challenger for this incredibly important position. He has gradually steered Metro towards a better set of policies, although there is a long way to go. His appointments to the Sound Transit Board have been basically sound.

King County Council District 1: Rod Dembowski impressed us in the scuffle to be appointed to this seat last year, and he has not disappointed in office. Although his time there has been short, he already chairs the Regional Transit Committee and is bringing organizational energy to it.

King County Council District 9Shari Song or Reagan Dunn. Reagan Dunn has been an active and productive voice in the fight to reform Metro’s route structure, eager to make Metro’s dollars go farther by eliminating ineffective service such as the infamous Route 42. While the Council probably needs more route-reform yes votes than revenue yes-votes, we can’t bring ourselves to endorse a Councilmember who will likely oppose more resources for transit. Shari Song will support more revenue, but hasn’t given us any indication that she brings any particular transportation expertise or correct positions on Metro reform.

Seattle Mayor: STB has already endorsed Mike McGinn for mayor.

Richard Conlin

Seattle Council Position 2: Richard Conlin has been the most consistent voice for the public good of density on the council while his colleagues serve neighborhood special interests.

Seattle Council Position 8: Mike O’Brien hasn’t been as deeply involved in transportation issues as we thought he might, but he remains a fairly reliable vote for better transit, less emphasis on cars, and more housing in Seattle.

Bellevue City Council 4: Steve Kasner presents the strongest challenge to incumbent Kevin Wallace, who not only delayed East Link planning with wacky proposals like the Vision Line, but is now claiming credit for creating a collaborative compromise. With more community leadership experience, Kasner is also not likely to carry all the conflict-of-interest baggage that Wallace is knee-deep in when it comes to light rail.

Bellevue City Council 6: Lynne Robinson makes for a worthy opponent against Don Davidson, who presided over much of the council’s shenanigans when it was fighting Sound Transit. Robinson has earned endorsements from all three of the council’s pro-rail minority and has supported keeping East Link accessible to neighborhoods and employment centers.

Mukilteo Mayor: We can’t imagine that transit is a very big issue in Mukilteo, and in an outlying suburb alternative transportation often means bikes. Jennifer Gregorson earned Cascade Bicycle Club’s endorsement and has a recent Urban Planning degree from UW. These are excellent indicators of a leader ready to enact environmentally sensitive policies.

STB’s Editorial Board currently consists of Martin H. Duke, Bruce Nourish, and Sherwin Lee.

47 Replies to “2013 Primary Endorsements”

  1. Sounder Commuter Service is a big issue in Mukilteo, especially the alignment of the ferry terminal and Sounder station. But, yes, bikes are critically important too!

    1. Fair enough, though the merits of the various positions aren’t clear, and the ability of the mayor to significantly affect Sounder service is questionable.

      1. Thanks for the endorsement! I’m a frequent reader and I appreciate it.
        The city has input over zoning around the Sounder Station, parking and access. I wouldn’t have much impact on Sounder service, but as that area redevelops, the Mayor has some impact on the vision.

      2. And helping the timing of the Sounder/Ferry/CT113. Yes, I know those aren’t the job of the Mayor but there has to be something someone can do to help bring sanity to the issue. CT was paying me $50/month to get out of my car and use the 113. I tried, I really did but I had to stop. I’d be fired if I kept showing up late for work because of missed connections. The CT 113 coming up from the waterfront is consistently late and the driver always said it’s because of the Ferry. Sometimes it’s 15 minutes later when it’s only 15 minutes into it’s run.

  2. Was just about to say same thing as Brock. Further, I think we should assume alternative transportation even in outlying suburbs would include buses. Our goal as transit advocates should be to ensure everyone has access to good, reliable transit no matter where they live. In a state where Seattle makes up 1/9 the population of the state as a whole, such an approach is also essential for getting what we want here in the city as well.

    1. Thirded. I really can’t believe The Stranger trashed Conlin (even going so far as to badly slant his transit record) and endorsed Kshama Sawant, who has a valuable message but is too uncompromising to make any sense whatsoever as a member of a legislative body.

      1. I think some uncompromising members are great for a legislative body. That’s how you actually move the Overton window for the group. It works very well for urban representation in the US House.

      2. Believe it or not, I actually agree with Ben here.

        Clinton and the New Democrats’ affinity for political triangulations, while the Republicans were busy hard-charging the Overton window to the right, is why two decades later the Supreme Court is systematically dismantling equal access to education and the voting booth, Obama’s “radical” policy initiatives are mostly repackaged former GOP proposals, and the right to walk down the street without getting shot is at the mercy of the NRA.

        At the state level, Washington Democrats squandered years of supermajorities by “playing it safe”, while Tim Eyman worked hard to enshrine us as a regressively-funded state with structural revenue deficiencies that would slowly kill off government at all levels. The result laid the groundwork for a Republican coup; being a very wealthy state with more unfunded priorities than Michigan is our new normal.

        In the city and the county, local Democrats have supported a succession of “don’t rock the boat” managerial types — I still don’t understand why any liberal would be enthused about Dow — even as the transit system collapses, the police and schools are in crisis, and basic services can’t survive without special levy and after special levy.

        Maybe it’s time we stopped letting others define “acceptable discourse”, and started electing actual leaders.

      3. For me, it has nothing to do with being uncompromising.

        One of the tenets of the Socialist Alternative party is that collective action and planning is generally better than individual action. For example, Ms. Sawant endorses rent control, which is something that I strongly oppose. Instead, I believe that liberalizing and decentralizing development, as Conlin has been advocating for, is the best way to ensure that we have cheap and abundant housing.

      4. Like many people focused on economic justice, Sawant isn’t interested in revenue solutions with high incidence on working-class people. For instance, she opposes tolling. Although she’s all for soaking the rich to fund transit, there isn’t much more that she agrees with STB about.

      5. Ben and d.p., the federal example is really quite apropos.

        When did Republicans succeed in moving the Overton window? When they had a combination of uncompromising talk-radio voices and legislators who knew when to kill a deal and when to cut one.

        By contrast, since the Tea Party minority-of-the-minority gained veto power after the 2010 election, I would argue the Overton window has been moving to the left. Having legislators that can’t cut a deal has done nothing but hurt the Republicans. They look incompetent and ineffective, and their approval ratings are at historic lows. The public has grown more accepting of Democratic policies and is willing to blame Republicans even when most of the blame actually belongs to Democrats.

        TL;dr: it’s public and activist obstinacy, not legislative obstinacy, that gets you what you’re looking for.

        (Full disclosure: Kshama Sawant is also considerably to my left on many policy issues, although legislative effectiveness is my #1 reason for opposing her.)

      6. Since when does STB favor endless stopgap measures, in which our state overlords may or may not deign to authorize us to tax ourselves, limiting us to only the most regressive mechanisms imaginable?

        That’s our Overton window, and it’s crap. I favor anyone willing to work against our presumptions of inefficacy.

        Then again, I also disagree with the STB majority that a moment of unprecedented developer enthusiasm is the time to go full-throttle laissez-faire until the city is filled with pedestrian-abhorring megablock crimes against architecture. Now is exactly the time to regulate width, permeability, and street-scale, and to achieve quality urbanism for the first time in a century.

      7. And David,

        Those “Democratic policies” of which the public are now fond are often to the right of Eisenhower. That’s how complete has been the rightward march of the “acceptable spectrum of policy discourse.

        Sawant wouldn’t be joining a Sawant Block. She would merely be shifting the median policy position on the Council to the left. This is analogous to the Supreme Court’s rightward movement when the median shifted from O’Connor to Kennedy. She wouldn’t be in a position to control or to veto the agenda, but the need to achieve majority coalitions would require that her priorities be acknowledged and addressed. That’s how legislative bodies are supposed to work.

        I don’t have any particular enmity against Conlin. Like any middle-of-the-road local politician, I agree with him on some stated positions and oppose him on others. But he strikes me as so Machiavellian that it’s difficult to be sure what his long-game would yield.

      8. Sawant’s priorities would not be “acknowledged and addressed,” and it’s naivete to think they would be. She would simply be ignored, no matter how loudly she complained about it, and dismissed as a quack. The Council is fluid enough on most policy questions that it would have no problem forming majorities without her — majorities that would likely include people like Licata and Godden.

        By contrast, whatever you may think of Conlin’s priorities (I happen to think they’re generally good for transit and urbanism), he is able to actually influence the result coming out of the Council, and that’s extremely important.

        I agree completely with you that the Overton window on transit funding issues around here is bovine excrement. The way to fix that is to elect more O’Briens, not more Sawants.

      9. The way to fix that is to elect more O’Briens, not more Sawants.

        Forgot the second crucial piece of this: elect more O’Briens, not more Sawants, and make a huge public stink about transit funding. Fortunately at least some people are doing that.

      10. The fact that Scalia is a crotchety blowhard and Alito is an actual cartoon villain hasn’t kept them from forming decisive and disastrous majorities with Kennedy.

        Meanwhile, I don’t see any O’Brien clones running in the race.

        I do see Sally Clark, the Human Overton Window. Never votes for anything she doesn’t see as the precise middle of the politically palatable. I couldn’t possibly concoct a better example of why that palate must be shifted.

      11. The stranger literally wrote this:

        He championed a deep-bore tunnel (dishonestly calling it a “green alternative”) that won’t accommodate any mass transit.

        Emphasis theirs.

        That’s nonsensical. Buses absolutely are transit, or did I misread and they want to completely disallow them from the bridge?

      12. They are referring to the 99 tunnel. There will, literally, be no transit in that tunnel. Zero. Ever.

        Say what you want about The Stranger‘s analysis, but this one cannot be disputed.

      13. “One of the tenets of the Socialist Alternative party is that collective action and planning is generally better than individual action.”
        Which is something I absolutely agree with…

        “For example, Ms. Sawant endorses rent control, which is something that I strongly oppose.”
        …but this is stupid. Rent control has proven to be a very poor tool which routinely backfires massively, and ends up subsidizing a small elite of folks who “inherited the rent controlled apartments”, while leaving the “new poor” out in the dust. The old English system of “council housing” was substantially more effective than rent control.

        Collective action and planning is only better than individual action when the collective planners are SMART, not when they refuse to learn from the past.

      14. Nathanael,

        My point was that the Socialist Alternative party prefers collective action as a matter of principle, whereas I prefer collective action or individual action to the extent that we have empirical evidence in favor of its effectiveness for a given situation. I believe that principle leads them to support policies with perverse effects, such as rent control.

      15. I really don’t like the notion of pitting radicalization against radicalization. This is just another sign that our political system is broken and needs fixing, preferably with a third party. Unfortunately, Socialist Alternative isn’t it for a number of reasons; it would probably have to be a smart, left-wing libertarian party that can figure out how to achieve equitable outcomes with a minimum of government. My hunch is that a plurality of the American people would vote for such a party.

      16. Morgan,

        I think our political system has reached a natural equilibrium, given the structure of our political institutions. The nature of the Senate implicitly rewards politicians who cater to rural/exurban voters, and our “first-past-the-post” elections implicitly encourage a two-party system.

        I’m not sure that we’re going to see a “sea change” in the manner that you describe without changing the institutions first.

    2. I don’t live in Seattle so I don’t follow the city politics extremely closely. I was wondering if anyone had any idea why The Stranger describes Conlin as “helping to kill mass transit”? They really rip him apart on transportation.

      1. Because he supported the DBT, which in their eyes is the original sin from which all other sins flow.

        They are simply wrong about him on transit.

      2. The DBT is god-awful, but it’s hard to find a candidate with clean hands on that matter.

  3. That’s a really weak endorsement of O’Brien. His work championing the transit master plan and then subsequently the investments in each of those corridors has been key. He’s been the difference between passage and rejection on a lot of the TMP implementation work, not just in his votes, but in his work to get others on board.

  4. Could you expand on how Conlin has been “the most consistent voice for the public good of density on the council”?

    I haven’t followed the city council close enough to have a strong opinion, but your defense of Conlin looks pretty weak in comparison to The Stranger which said, “He brought votes to suspend funding of the city’s Transit Master Plan while leaving the city’s Bicycle Master Plan mostly unfunded. Conlin backed building a wider, six-lane 520 bridge that still lacks $2 billion in funding for Seattle’s side of the project. He championed a deep-bore tunnel (dishonestly calling it a “green alternative”) that won’t accommodate any mass transit. And Conlin ignored environmental reviews for the tunnel in the name of expediting highway construction, while arguing in favor of environmental reviews as a means to delay mass transit projects.”

    As transit advocates, you’re not really stating a strong case to counter The Stranger’s concrete examples.

    1. Well, as the chair of the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability committee he held firm against neighborhood opposition to microhousing (aPodments) while Tom Rasmussen decided to use his Transportation Committee to launch a series of hearings on the topic.

    2. First of all, as far as the tunnel goes, let’s consider why Conlin supported it:

      – He wanted to make the waterfront a place for people, rather than cars.
      – He liked that it was reducing capacity.
      – He really wanted to avoid a replacement elevated structure.
      – He felt that the I-5/surface/transit alternative was riskier, especially the I-5 part.

      These are all very legitimate reasons. I may not agree that the DBT is worthwhile, but it’s clear to me that Conlin has the right priorities.

      Now, here are some examples where Conlin has been on the forefront of positive change:

      – He wants to build more housing along Central Link, where transportation is abundant and land is (relatively) cheap.
      – He enthusiastically supports building more rail.
      – He wants to build a pedestrian bridge over I-5 at Northgate, using money that would otherwise have gone to subsidize parking spaces.
      – Most of all, he has repeatedly fought back against the meme that the current residents of a neighborhood matter more than the future residents of the neighborhood; that meme is the biggest obstacle to housing affordability and growth (and it’s the reason why I will not be voting for district-based elections).

      It’s tough for a politician to stand up to neighborhood advocates and tell them that they don’t have the final authority over what goes into their neighborhood, especially in a city like Seattle, where “neighborhoods” have so much political cachet. Conlin has done so repeatedly, and I greatly respect him for it.

      1. Even accepting that Fnarf’s article was alarmist, it’s hard to see the rebuilt Alaskan Way as a “place for people, rather than cars.” It’s still to be a multilane arterial, filled with traffic to/from downtown, trucks with flammable cargo, and cars driven by people unwilling to pay the steep toll to use the tunnel.

        It may get rid of a loud, ugly elevated viaduct, but the notion that we are reclaiming our waterfront is ludicrous.

      2. Matt L, within the constraints imposed by existing uses (and without building a second DBT exiting at Elliott), the planned Alaskan Way is about as good as it could get. The fact is that if you made it into a two-lane city street you would be pretty much entirely cutting off freight and contractor access from the port and the industrial heart of the city to its entire northwest side. There is no good way through further north either.

      3. Matt L: I think you are being entirely too kind to Fnarf. I’m still trying to decide whether he was sloppy to the point of journalistic incompetence, or disingenuous to the point of mendaciousness.

      4. +1

        I’d also add that while I think pretty much everyone involved wanted a collaborative process, my read both then and now was that the State would never have actually allowed the I-5/surface/transit alternative to happen.

      5. “my read both then and now was that the State would never have actually allowed the I-5/surface/transit alternative to happen.”

        That’s what poisons the political situation with respect to the DBT. I-5/surface/transit would have worked fine (the supposed “freight” concerns are completely overblown). But multiple factions within the state government were openly hostile to it from day one, and this was extremely clear. It was probably not possible for it to get a fair hearing.

        Perhaps this is what Conlin concluded, too.

  5. Is STB so blinded by its hatred of the 42 that it would give an even lukewarm endorsement to Reagan Dunn, who voted *against* the CRC?

    Also, I am curious to know if you interviewed either of the candidates before decided who was or wasn’t knowledgeable about transit.

    1. Obviously the answer is no, STB would not give even a lukewarm endorsement to Reagan Dunn.

      … we can’t bring ourselves to endorse a Councilmember who will likely oppose more resources for transit.

      Seems pretty clear to me.

      1. Ah, but listing both candidates instead of neither and praising Dunn’s record on “reform” is essentially an endorsement, even if they claim it is not. If they did not want people to vote for CM Dunn, they would have said so.

      1. @Morgan Wick: Wrong CRC. That post is referring to the Columbia River Crossing project. (KC Council members don’t get to vote about that.) The CRC I’m referring to is the Congestion Reduction Charge, which provided temporary funding for KC Metro and staved off massive cuts.

  6. Note that Wallace’s “wacky” vision line is only two blocks from the chosen alignment. Both stations open onto 112th. The vision line was to be on 114th.

    Way to fight the good fight, folks!

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