An impressive list of pro-transit forces — including all of the most notable pro-transit legislators, and a sizeable number of current and former Transportation Choices Coalition associates — have signed a letter making the pro-transit case for Sen. Ed Murray:
[Murray has] deliver[ed] hundreds of millions of dollars for transit in Seattle and statewide by creating the Regional Mobility Grant program. That program has funded several key projects throughout Seattle like the Metro Route 120 service improvements in West Seattle, Metro Route 44 improvements between Ballard and the U District, Metro Route 7 improvements in the Rainier Valley, King Street Station’s retrofit, the South Lake Union Streetcar, and many Sound Transit projects…
He successfully fought to save Sound Transit by killing every attempt in Olympia to gut and kill the agency at a time when Sound Transit supporters in Olympia were rare. And he’s the only candidate who can work with state and regional leaders to bring ST3 to the ballot in 2016 with a package that expands—and accelerates—light rail in Seattle and region-wide.
I presume most transit advocates are by now dug in on one side or the other. Mike McGinn certainly has impressive urbanist endorsements of his own. Nevertheless, it’s quite gratifying that we have not one, but two candidates who have consistently said they are for more aggressive light rail expansion in Seattle.
Full text of the letter below the jump.
July 31, 2013
To Whom It May Concern:
Ed Murray stands for greater transportation choices for Seattle, and shares our vision that Seattle must support building faster and more reliable transit options that connect more neighborhoods with light rail, streetcars, and buses. And that’s why we stand for Ed Murray.
While Ed isn’t the only candidate who supports our shared vision for expanded transit throughout Seattle and the region, he is the only candidate in the race with a track record that shows he can realize our shared vision.
Building an ambitious mass transit system for Seattle won’t be easy. But Ed has a long history of building strong coalitions and successfully fighting for transit. In fact, he is the only mayoral candidate who has made good on his promise to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars for transit in Seattle and statewide by creating the Regional Mobility Grant program. That program has funded several key projects throughout Seattle like the Metro Route 120 service improvements in West Seattle, Metro Route 44 improvements between Ballard and the U District, Metro Route 7 improvements in the Rainier Valley, King Street Station’s retrofit, the South Lake Union Streetcar, and many Sound Transit projects.
Ed also knows that when it comes to transit, a good defense leads to good offense. That’s why he successfully fought to save Sound Transit by killing every attempt in Olympia to gut and kill the agency at a time when Sound Transit supporters in Olympia were rare. And he’s the only candidate who can work with state and regional leaders to bring ST3 to the ballot in 2016 with a package that expands—and accelerates—light rail in Seattle and region-wide. Already, Ed has done more for Seattle transit than any other mayoral candidate. And for this he has received a host of recognition. He was recently inducted into the Transportation Choices Coalition Hall of Fame, previously awarded Legislator of the Year by the Washington State Transit Association, given the award for Leadership for Improving Mobility in Washington by the Women’s Transportation Seminar and many more.
Ed wants to make transportation in Seattle work and he realizes we cannot be successful if we pit one mode of transit against another. Ed will fight, as he always has, to expand our light rail system, while simultaneously saving and improving the Metro bus system, expanding the streetcar network, and putting in place the city- and region-wide policies that will prioritize transit and the movement of people. It will be a tall order for any Mayor. But we know that Ed can deliver.
A growing city like Seattle needs a world-class transit system, so that it’s easier, faster, and more affordable to move around. We stand with Ed because as mayor, Ed will set the right priorities, build the right local and regional coalitions, and finally move transit forward.
– Rep. Jessyn Farrell (Former Executive Director, Transportation Choices Coalition)
– Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (Member, House Transportation Committee)
– David Perez (Board Member, King County Conservation Voters)
– Josh Kavanagh (Board Member, Transportation Choices Coalition)
– Ezra Basom (Board Member, King County Conservation Voters)
– Aaron Ostrom (Co-founder and former Director, Transportation Choices Coalition)
– Mike Cooper (Board Member, Transportation Choices Coalition)
– Rep. Marko Liias (Vice-Chair, House Transportation Committee)
– Candida Lorenzana (Board Member, King County Conservation Voters)
– Brendon Cechovic (Executive Director, Washington Conservation Voters)
– Thomas Goldstein (Former Executive Director, Washington Bus)
– Rep. Cyrus Habib (Member, House Transportation Committee)
57 Replies to “Transit Advocates Sign Letter for Ed Murray”
Murray is a wild card for transit. He gave an interview saying he was going to study best practices for funding from elsewhere. We have a system that works well here! It has the backing of the establishment and the business interests. McGinn wouldn’t be a disruptive change agent, and that’s why I already voted for him.
Our transit revenue “system” relies primarily on a regressive and volatile funding source with no nexus to transportation; I’m not sure how you could say it “works well”.
And it won’t be fixed until we rescind RCW 84.55, the Limitations on Property Tax Increases.
A real politician with a plan would put this on the table.
Property taxes are the correct and fair way to fund transit.
Yeah, that’s probably the single most valuable transit intention ever to have been credited to Murray as second-hand hearsay.
Of course, the best practice that exists in every other state that values the health of its economic-powerhouse urban centers is for the state to provide a stable, guaranteed direct funding stream funding stream that constitutes a double digit percentage of robust transit budgets. No piddling handouts for a bus bulbs or mitigations for state-highway disasters or special architectural earmarks. Just significant, annual money that supports significant service and capital projects. Because urban mobility and economic vitality are in the state’s interest.
That’s the “best practice”. That’s what Murray needed to discuss, when he held positions of power in Olympia. He never did.
“Of course, the best practice that exists in every other state that values the health of its economic-powerhouse urban centers is for the state to provide a stable, guaranteed direct funding stream funding stream that constitutes a double digit percentage of robust transit budgets.”
Recent New York transplant here . . . I can’t believe how high sales taxes for transit are!
In the NYC Metro area the buses, subways, commuter trains, etc are operated by the MTA, but the STATE does the taxing. It is much more modest than here and spread around to be fair. The public officials around here need to take a look at how it’s done by Albany and the MTA! Only about 27% of the MTA’s total revenue comes from dedicated taxes or fees, while the balance comes from fares, tolls on MTA bridges, and local and state subsidies:
On pages 8 and 14 (16 and 22) are descriptions of the components of the MMTOA and the MTTF (the taxing packages the state provides to the MTA). The MTA’s primary tax sources the state legislature provides for it are these:
— Payroll tax
— Taxes on petroleum businesses
— Some vehicle registration fees
— Progressive Taxes on Businesses (franchise taxes)
— A Mortgage Recording Tax
— Real Estate Transfer Taxes (the “urban tax”) ( see http://www.mta.info/mta/news/books/docs/2013_04_budgetwatch.pdf page 3)
— A modest 3/8 of 1 per cent sales tax
Over half of the MTA’s revenue is from farebox and tolls — here 70% of the revenue for transit is sales taxes and car tab taxes and (some) property taxes.
This is a lot like the way environmental groups split between Murray and McGinn. The state focused, legislative groups went for their old legislative colleague, Murray. The more locally focused groups like the Sierra Club and Cascade Bike Club went for McGinn.
At least they are talking, which to my knowledge Ed Murray himself has not, about transit improvements specific to the city. But the continued focus on regional transit is surprising and disappointing. I still feel, after reading this, that Ed views the mayor’s office as just a stepping stone to the governor’s office.
I completely agree that the Ed Murray campaign needs to be more specific about his priorities. It’s getting very annoying but we probably won’t see any details until after the primary. With that said both of biggest “Seattle” transit issues are actually regional problems, Metro funding and ST3 funding. If we want a mayor that leads on those issues they’ll have to focus on regional issues in a way we haven’t seen for a while.
As for your last assertion that the Mayor’s seat is a stepping stone to the governors office you have to be crazy. Suburban swing voters, the ones to decide the governor’s race, aren’t going to vote for a former Seattle mayor. It’s a demerit not a benefit.
The conjecture (and it is just an attempt at mindreading, a skill we homo sapiens lack), is that Ed *wants* to be governor. That’s a separate question from whether he could be elected governor. I don’t think he would do that well in such a race, but hey, I can’t read the minds of several million voters.
It would also make sense if he’s just tired of driving down to Olympia, and the mayor job is a lateral move. But what doesn’t make sense is his regional/state perspective, rather than focusing on Seattle-specific issues. That shows either a lack of interest/knowledge of Seattle politics and being locked in a state politician mindset, or that he has his eye on a bigger job. If Governor is out, what’s left? Some national position that would benefit from city experience? I suppose that could be a US Senate position, maybe even McDermott’s job (he can’t live forever). Or maybe even some cabinet position for a future democratic president?
I’ve long dreaded the possiblity Ed may run for Congress. We don’t need any more votes for “trade” deals that give corporations international personhood, rights we human beings do not have, and a special court they can access when they don’t like laws nations or their sub-units pass, that neither we humans nor the other nations who sign those treaties can access.
Brent, that makes a lot of sense. Jim McDermott can only serve for so long. Is Ed angling for his seat?
“Ed views the mayor’s office as just a stepping stone to the governor’s office.”
That is plainly nutz. Being mayor of Seattle is death to any statewide ambitions — it just never happens. Ed surely knows this, so if anything he might be viewing the Seattle Mayor’s office as a way to wind down his political career, because he is certainly smart enough to know that it shuts him out of any statewide elected offices.
Or (conjecture), he may be wanting to save for retirement, something that is nearly impossible to do on a state legislator’s salary.
Overall, this is very good news. It is quite likely that the mayor and Murray will face off in the general election. The fact that both are trying really hard to win the support of transit supporters (instead of those opposed Apodments, or the folks who want more parking, or the people who think there is a war against cars, etc.) is a really good sign.
Completely agree. I love that both candidates are going after the transit vote. It’s not a surprise but good to see.
Going after the vote doesn’t mean working to improve transit. The fact that Murray is still not sure what he wants to change about Sound Transit’s governance is not good. I’m amazed he’s trying to call out our tiny handful of regional mobility grants as a good thing! Most of those are parking garage projects, at this point.
“…parking garage projects”? It’s just not so. RMGs are real money; some of these grants are windfalls for small agencies to provie real service hours and help the neediest customers. Time to concede Ed’s point and move on. Here’s a one-cycle snapshot (hint: KCM gets one-fourth of the total pot for paratransit)–
railcan, yeah, service hours for small agencies? How is that relevant to Seattle? And this year, when I looked at the projects, it was about half parking. Not by number of projects – by dollars.
I’m worried that the general will be McGinn vs SteinB. Because Peter seems to have a solid and energized base in the Lesser Seattle, anti-growth, pro-neighborhoods crowd — and those people tend to vote heavily, even in primaries.
I would prefer that over Murray.
This is just making me suspicious of the Transportation Choices Coalition. What’s their deal? Corporate establishment stuff?
If you hadn’t previously noticed that TCC is the pro-transit mouthpiece for big regional businesses and the Democratic/social justice establishment, well, you weren’t paying much attention. But, welcome to the party!
The social justice establishment hasn’t been part of that group for quite a while, either.
Not quite sure on what basis you are making all these assumptions/assertions about TCC. On the efficiency issue – we disagree with STB on a particular issue (route 42) because we think it is a social justice issue not just a productivity issue. We have worked collaboratively with Metro and community groups to find a solution that works for Metro AND the community. We were an active participant in the Regional Transit Taskforce discussions and worked hard to build political support for the new strategic framework. This blanket assertion that we do not care about transit efficiency is incorrect.
On the mouthpiece for regional businesses assertion – in the past 6 years, we have worked on nearly 20 ballot measures across the state, many of them to save service. The most recent measure in Pierce County was opposed by the business establishment but our staffer Kate Whiting spent countless hours running the campaign that fell short by a heartbreaking 700 votes.
We are in the trenches day in and day out facing tremendous odds (a Legislature that is hostile to transit and a regressive funding structure that is very hard to fix). It’s a lot easier to stop bad things than it is to fight for more funding for transit. We fought for five years to try and secure a local option for Metro and other transit agencies separate from a roads package. But what became clear to us was that save for a few environmental groups and maybe a couple of business associations fighting for these bills, the hallways of Olympia were empty. Don’t confuse being realistic for selling out. If you care about transit issues, you won’t attack the organizations that are trying to advocate to save and grow transit service.
Ben – can you explain your comment?
If you guys were so keen on the RTT guidelines, why did you try to undercut them at the time when support was most needed, and the actions proposed by Metro were most obviously called for under the guidelines? The arguments for keeping the 42 fell into two categories: those that were real, but which could have been handled directly by the agency, without Council histrionics; and those that were merely fatuous. The proposal to restore the old 42 was shockingly awful, and TCC’s espousal of it fatally wounded my opinion of your organization in this respect.
Sorry, Shefali, I meant the mainstream Democrats and social justice folks haven’t been together for a while.
You can question the backing/funding of TCC but they have been the most consistent and successful voice over the last 20 years advocating for transit. I can assure you that Kemper, BIAW, Eyman etc. would be happy if TCC wasn’t around.
So are they just for megaprojects in general? Are they run by concrete contractors or something?
They’re basically the “spend more money on transit” people, and they’re pretty good at it. They do not, however, exhibit much interest in ensuring that transit money is used effectively.
It’s important to note that TCC does not endorse candidates, and that zero TCC staff signed this letter.
Martin is right. As a 501c3 TCC is not allowed to and does not endorse candidates. The listing should have included the language “Organization shown for identification purposes only; no endorsement by the organization is implied.” That language is required by the IRS when using a 501c3’s name in any candidates materials.
It’s my understanding is that Mr. McGinn is still the only candidate that is (or would) actively try to SPEED UP building of light rail within the city of Seattle. I don’t think this letter changes that. I don’t care how many coalitions are built, I still want an expanded light rail system within the city limits of Seattle. What irks me most is this line that is patently false: “And he’s the only candidate who can work with state and regional leaders to bring ST3 to the ballot in 2016 with a package that expands—and accelerates—light rail in Seattle and region-wide.” Any mayors “CAN work with state and regional leaders.” In fact, Mr. McGinn already sped up the planning process for a 2016 ballot measure while Mr. Murray was and still is achieving bupkis for KC Metro funding.
I don’t get all this meme of building coalitions. There is only one coalition Ed Murray has helped build recently, and that is the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, which was built because two senators couldn’t go along with him being the majority leader, and he refused to compromise. How collaborative!
Mayor McGinn is blameless in Olympia’s failure to pass more funding for transit. He, the city council, the county council, and a bipartisan coalition of mayors Mike helped put together, worked their behinds off trying to get something/anything out of Olympia.
So, if we put all the money the mayor has devoted to transit during his first three years in Olympia side-by-side with how much State Sen. Murray got allocated to transit, which pile comes out to be larger?
Brent, actually, that’s an interesting comparison. I think they’d be similar. There’ve been Regional Mobility Grants, which you could give Murray some credit for – but they’ve also largely been park and ride funding.
I don’t live in Seattle, so I really don’t have any skin in the game, but it strikes me as bizarre that Ed Marray’s campaign seems to boil down to quotes like “long history of building strong coalitions” when despite there having been solid Democratic majorities in the State Senate, and despite his having been the leader of that party in the Senate, the State legislature has passed two straight _Republican_ budgets.
Murray’s campaign (no relation) appears to be: I will do what McGinn is doing but I will do it better because I can make friends.
On the subject of ST3 and Metro funding, that’s true. For TMP and zoning stuff, nobody really has any idea.
It’s more like:
“I will do what McGinn is doing but I will do it better because I can make friends, and fuck you if you question my ability to make friends.”
d.p. for Mayor! He is better than Mike or Ed at making friends.
If as he says he can make friends, he would be still better suited to remain in Olympia “making friends” for his Seattle constituents.
Or maybe the liberal lobbyists have been looking for a way to get Ed out of Olympia. “Please, stop making friends!”
Q: Mr. Murray, Will you fight for grade-separated light rail to Ballard in a 2016 ST3 ballot measure?
A: (crickets) (regionalism) (crickets)
That’s why transit supporters don’t all trust him. He could do a lot by going on the record now in support of things we care about.
Add “and to West Seattle” and that’s exactly the question he fails miserably on. Well said.
My own personal theory is that Murray supports and plans to push for Roads and Transit 2. Imagine a Roads and Transit ballot initiative with a total cost of say $15 billion. Less than half of that would be transit. He wants the flexibility to address regional transit priorities, like Link to Everett, Redmond, Federal Way, etc…. He can’t therefore commit to rail to Ballard, West Seattle or anywhere else because he doesn’t know if he can afford to give those neighborhoods more than a token streetcar or a new bus or something.
He’s basically running for Mayor of Seattle to pursue Olympia’s legislative agenda.
I really hope Jesse’s wrong, but I kinda suspect he’s not.
Murray is a transit fraud. Who cares that his Olympia pals support him? The State Democratic Party is corrupt and of course they’re going to back their anti-urban transportation puppet.
Mike has some Democratic organizational endorsements, too, ya know.
He also got the top rating from the Downtown Seattle Association.
That McGinn is no lefty hippie.
Yeah, cuz you know, those local dem organisations are actually socialist/progressive–not mindwarped by the mediocrity and pedantic absurdity of the State-organised Party that hates Seattle.
This letter’s timing was calculated, along with the DSA’s, to promote Murray without being real news. You can see the writing on the wall: McGinn is too pro-transit for TCC. TCC does important work, but has compromised away their cred on a number of issues. Thanks to Rob for clarifying that TCC does not support candidates directly. I assume he got some pushback for doing an ad for Greg Nickels four years ago.
Hopefully both Murray and McGinn will make it into the finals. They are both, by far, the best transit choices. If you haven’t voted for either McGinn or Murray please do. You have less than a week to mail in your ballot.
Murray’s claims to accomplish more through regional cooperation are nonsensical as long as the legislature remains so dysfunctional. As others have said, he would appear to be a stalking house for another ballot measure based around the old “urban rail, suburban highway expansion, rural pork” tripod. However, the intense anti tax sentiment present these days outside the city suggests that such a measure is doomed from the start. You’d have to have a charismatic leader in king county who could convince urbanites the trade off is worth it. Murray?
McGinn, on the other hand, has clearly decided to latch on to the popularity of the Seattle Subway concept, as his latest mailer demonstrates, and hope an ST3 measure can get a decent chunk of it underway in his political lifetime. I know which approach sounds more desirable to me…
There are good points for both McGinn and Murray on transit. the commentors have summarized the letter well. Murray did help with transit funding and protected ST. maybe we need him in Olympia. the signators omit some important history. Murray takes credit for helping to assemble two statewide transportation revenue packages (e.g., the Nickel and the TPA 9.5 cent). Note that they provided no new revenue for local maintenance; it had been legislative practice to provide local governments some new revenue from gas tax increases. Earlier, Murray helped get MVET authority for the EMT/SMP to fund the monorail green line. at the same time, the RTID was allowed and the joint ballot measure mandated. McGinn had the good sense to oppose the joint ballot measure in 2007. we need to be vigilent about what we collaborate on. Bruce makes good points about cost-effectiveness; we should not hug all modes without due consideration.
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