By now, it’s pretty clear that there are only four legitimate contenders vying to move on to the general election for the mayoral race. While we’re generally familiar with a lot of their broad-brush positions on transit, attitudes on more specific issues, like Metro funding, have remained somewhat of a mystery. Luckily, Thanh Tan at the Seattle Times has compiled a nice table which summarizes how the candidates stack up against each other on addressing the Metro deficit.

The answers are all strung together from minute-long responses in a KCTS debate (11:46-20:45), so I’d be hesitant to assess any of the candidates solely on the basis of their responses here. Although most of them are rhetorically supportive of transit anyway, what matters are the positions that set a candidate apart from the standard pro-transit boilerplate answers.

Interestingly enough, McGinn and Steinbrueck were probably the most unified in their remarks. Both shared similar attitudes on the necessity of new revenue and the impact of transit cuts. They were also equally vague about the specifics on new revenue, though Steinbrueck seemed much more willing to directly blame the Legislature for Metro’s woes.

Murray, unsurprisingly, was quick to deflect blame away from Olympia and seemed much more optimistic about a near-term solution for Metro. Given the hardline stance from Senate Republicans toward transit, I’m sure Murray knows what’s realistic and what’s not, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he were simply using his optimism as a campaign tactic.

Bruce Harrell veered away from the Metro shortfall completely and instead spent his time talking about the failed 2011 Prop. 1 measure. The $60 VLF wouldn’t have purchased any service hours for Metro anyway, so I’m unsure what Harrell was hoping to accomplish with his tangent. Nonetheless, any non-mention of Metro’s shortfall could be an ominous indication as to where his priorities would lie as mayor.

14 Replies to “Evaluating the Mayoral Candidates on Metro”

  1. I actually think the talk about the VLF was more relevant. All the talk about Olympia essentially amounts to begging for authority, while VLF funds are something the Mayor can actually control. Moreover, half of the VLF money would have gone to bus capital improvements that would have improved Metro’s operational efficiency.

    1. “something the Mayor can actually control”

      Actually, since the Transportation Benefit District is governed by a board consisting of the city councilmembers, the Mayor has even less control over this than usual city business.

      And if you have to beg the voters for money, you should spend it on something more exciting than bus bulbs. I doorbelled for that campaign, and I couldn’t blame people for not buying into our message of “give us money to spread around to buses and potholes and bike lanes because Tim Eyman.”

      1. It’s true the Council controls the purse strings, but those projects would have been planned and executed by SDOT. The mayor has much more sway over it than the question of how much Olympia will allow King County to tax itself.

    2. Harrell was fairly vague about why he thought the VLF failed, so I don’t think his pitch was as effective as it could have been. I’m sure he knows that the VLF transit funding was no substitute for 17% service hour cuts, so I’m not entirely sold on whatever point he was trying to make.

    3. A big reason why it failed was that the city did such a poor job telling people what they would be getting for it. Rather than listing specifically which projects they would do, they instead gave a much biggest is and said “trust us to pick stuff from this list, but we won’t tell you which until you vote yes”.

      The inevitable result is that everyone assumes that the projects that get picked will be projects that benefit someone else, hence everyone votes no.

  2. The idea that a place as rich, well-educated, and politically clean as Seattle has to literally beg lesser places and people for permission to do anything in our own governance is really getting disgusting.

    What about if we the citizens of Seattle simply set up our own very large cooperative to run our transit system, and paid for it ourselves as a private company?

    “Kick-start” and “crowd-sourcing” might work for something besides apps.

    Martin, I think you’ve got some ideas as to things we really can do if we have to. Would also like to hear from Ben- your work on Seattle Subways looks like it’s in the right direction, Ben.

    This level of enforced inaction is starting to get poisonous in itself- which doubtless is what people who hate us intend. It’s like Red Foxx once said about health food fanatics: “Sure gonna feel stupid lyin’ there in the hospital dyin’ of nothin!”


    Mark Dublin

    1. What about if we the citizens of Seattle simply set up our own very large cooperative to run our transit system, and paid for it ourselves as a private company?

      Great idea! We could call it a “government” ;-)

      1. Thanks for noticing, Aleks. That really has always been my own philosophy of government.

        It’s also been the governmental philosophy of people like the Koch Brothers: no problem at all with the idea of government as their tool.

        So far, idea works for them. Let’s steal it and let them sue us for copyright infringement.

        Incidentally, to get back to topic, all my life I’ve been waiting for any candidate for any office, mayor included, to say exactly your statement in your words.

        A hundred years ago, there were more than a few people in Washington State willing to say it- many of them farmers, miners and loggers east of the mountains.

        Call me a traditionalist.

        Mark Dublin

        Mark Dublin

    2. Who are these “lesser people” you speak of, Mark? Are people who aren’t of your political party less than you? Are people who don’t think like you and agree with you less than you? Are people who don’t live in Seattle less than you? Are people who aren’t as “educated and rich” as you less than you?

      1. If we happen to be talking about you, then “Yes, these are the lesser people: those of small mind and corrupt soul.”

      2. FWIW Mark said “lesser places”, not “lesser people”.

        In general, I don’t believe in “lesser places” either, and it’s a great example of a strain of elitism I see ’round these parts all the time that we’ve really got to do away with.

  3. The people I lived among in the Skagit Valley forty years ago- and in upstate parts of Michigan and Maryland-all deserved a lot better than they got out of the people they sent to Olympia and the other capitals.

    The people and forces in the Washington State Legislature I’m talking about are neither poor nor uneducated, though most of their election campaigns feature routine slander against their constituents who are.

    Experience and their own young people are daily delivering judgment as to better and worse. When young people run away in this state, which way do they run? Answer is also reason Seattle is hated:

    The personal freedom and enlightenment- word Founding Fathers used a lot- available here have made Seattle as prosperous repression and willful ignorance have made other places the opposite.

    I’m more than willing to share the benefits of life here with the rest of Washington. But I’m damned if I’ll let my city be brought to resemble places that are worse by every measure, and by the determined efforts of their own best-off people.

    Personally, I’m a lot harder on the Democratic Party, whose district meetings I attend regularly than on the other major one. I my adult life, less damage has been done by right-wing Republicans than by Democrats afraid of them. Which party’s governor signed Tim Eyman’s first initiative into law after the Washington Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional?

    Also find it better for both debating skill and thinking to keep company with intelligent people of views unlike mine. You don’t sharpen a razor with a sponge.

    As for education, I prefer idiots without any to the ones with advanced degrees. Also think those same degrees are starting to infringe the Constitution’s ban on titles of nobility: permanent undeserved hereditary power, available for purchase.

    Better? Ability to make any object with a carving chisel or an engine lathe is superior to anything I can do on a computer. Handed over last chance at “best” with my Breda tunnel coach, road relief Northgate on the old 307.

    Good question, Sam.

    Mark Dublin

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