These are STB’s endorsements for this November’s General Election. As always, candidate endorsements are meant to only reflect their positions on transit and land use.
YES on Sound Transit Proposition 1. Our full endorsement is here, and much more material is here. This measure, informally known as Sound Transit 3, would build 62 miles of fully traffic-separated transit right-of-way, in addition to Bus Rapid Transit and enhanced Sounder Commuter Rail. Plausible alternatives are dramatically inferior.
YES on Spokane Transit Proposition 1. After failing by a whisker in April 2015, Spokane Transit (STA) is back with a smaller transit expansion package. Instead of .3% increase in sales tax, STA will try for .2%, phase it in over 3 years, and sunset the tax in 2028. The plan would begin implementation of Spokane Transit’s impressive Moving Forward plan. The measure would boost service hours by 25%, build 6 new transit centers, build Bus Rapid Transit from Browne’s Addition to Gonzaga, add peak commuter routes, and expand service past 11pm for the first time. Even the Spokesman Review is on board this time around.
YES on Initiative 732. A carbon tax will encourage less energy-intensive forms of living, which generally involve density and transit, and discourage the opposite. Its cut in regressive sales taxes will reduce the tax burden of ST3 on low-income households. Opposition on the right is fundamentally opposed to taking action on the climate, and opposition on the left claims the legislation is not sufficiently inclusive of other progressive interests. But climate change is an emergency, and requires emergency action instead of hairsplitting over implementation details. For progressives hesitant about the breadth of the measure, we’d argue that building on this framework is a better goal for 2017 and beyond than trying again from scratch with no guarantee of success. Vote yes.
YES on Bellevue Proposition 2. Prop 2 is a remarkably progressive measure. The emphases are new bike infrastructure (including 24 miles of protected bike lanes), 84 traffic calming projects, and maintenance. “Congestion reduction” is limited to things like adding traffic signals, not an excuse for large car capacity adds.
YES on Issaquah Proposition 1. This $50m bond vote (which requires 60% to pass) adds some lanes and intersection improvements for drivers, but has surprisingly urbanist priorities for a suburban city. Newport Way between the Issaquah Transit Center and Sunset Way would get 3 roundabouts, and the street would get better sidewalks, new bike lanes, and traffic calming measures. Sunset Way in Olde Town Issaquah would get a center turn lane, better sidewalks, and a new off-arterial neighborhood greenway connecting the Rainier Trail to the Issaquah-Preston Trail.
YES on Kenmore Proposition 1. The “Walkways and Waterways” measure improves north/south non-motorized access in Kenmore, making it easier for people to access existing bus service on SR522 and the BRT line likely to succeed it. The plan would also separate walkers, cyclists, and drivers on Juanita Drive, a key part of the Lake Washington Loop.
YES on Bothell Proposition 1. The “Levy for Safe Streets and Sidewalks” funds pedestrian and traffic safety improvements with a particular focus on sidewalks near schools, connecting existing sidewalks and crosswalk safety. It also supports prudent road preservation work.
YES on Kitsap Transit Proposition 1. The series of fast ferries to Downtown Seattle from Bremerton, Kingston, and Southworth must look to the residents of those cities very much like North Sounder does to Edmonds and Mukilteo: middling ridership, but faster than any alternative. Except that this alternative is way faster. A 60-minute ride to Bremerton can be done in 28, and there is no road grid or bus alternative that can hope to compete with that. We are far more excited about Bremerton, which has a real downtown around its ferry terminal, than quiet Kingston and Southworth, which would appear to basically be limited by the onsite parking. But there are also about 23,000 additional bus hours that can help out with that.
Governor of Washington: Although Jay Inslee‘s full devotion to highway expansion disappoints us, he has also been on the right side of statewide transit issues. When discussing Sound Transit 3, his opponent simply regurgitates anti-transit talking points and has no interest in building high-quality transit. Bill Bryant is happy to endorse BRT when there’s rail on the ballot, but in the same campaign says he wants to let more general traffic into bus lanes. He would order WSDOT to make congestion reduction the agency’s #1 priority, and he opposes dynamic tolling.
U.S. Senate. It’s not often that a federal officeholder makes a really big difference for regional transit and land use. But Patty Murray has consistently done that over her four Senate terms. She consistently delivers dollars for critical Puget Sound infrastructure projects, and has the seniority on the Senate Budget Committee to keep it coming. With her help, the highest-performing ST3 projects could enjoy billions in grants. Her opponent, Chris Vance, is a center-right Republican with good stances on some of our issues, including support for raising the gas tax and creating an infrastructure bank, and he deserves credit for opposing Donald Trump early and often. But he’s running against one of the best. Vote Murray.
U.S. House – 7th District. It’s refreshing to see a candidate eschew the “all of the above” boilerplate common to Transportation Issues sections of campaign websites. Brady Walkinshaw opposes new urban highways, pledges to win federal grants for transit projects, and has an instinctive urbanism that is refreshing and articulate. Brady will be an excellent champion on transit and land use issues.
The Pierce County Executive controls 4 of 18 Sound Transit Board seats. Rick Talbert is the chair of the Pierce Transit Board, and we believe he would be a vote for continuity from Pierce County. His opponent, Bruce Dammeier, takes a 1950s approach to transportation, opposing ST3 and emphasizing new or widened highways in Pierce County.
Pierce County Council Pos. 6: Linda Farmer also suggests improved mass transit as an answer to congestion, which is more than her opponents have to say.
Island County Commissioner (District 2) Jill Johnson favors increasing density on developable land and encouraging auxiliary dwelling units. It’s a shame that a Republican in rural Washington could teach the Seattle City Council a thing or two about density.
Washington State Senate – 1st District: Guy Palumbo favors transit more than his opponent, who doesn’t think any solution other than the auto is appropriate.
Washington State Senate – 5th District: Mark Mullet has been a leader on tenants’ rights issues. He faces Chad Magendanz, recently prominent in the No ST3 campaign. Magendanz recycles tired anti-rail talking points and thinks University Link was a bad project. He even characterized the 2014 Metro levy as “another big Seattle-centric transportation scheme”.
Washington State House – 32nd District: Cindy Ryu is an advocate for public transit and upzones.
Washington State House – 34th District: Joe Fitzgibbon is one of the few genuine transit champions in the legislature.
Washington State House – 41st District: We’ve had our differences with Judy Clibborn over the years, but her opponent’s transportation views are a horror show.
Washington State House – 43rd District. Dan Shih has taken many progressive stances on transit issues, including supporting ST3, proposing a constitutional amendment to allow gas tax revenue to fund transit, a fix-it-first approach to project prioritization, and easing congestion “by making transit more attractive.” His opponent Nicole Macri is also a solid choice, but she doesn’t place quite the same emphasis on transit and land use issues.
Washington State House – 45th District: While Roger Goodman‘s primary interests lie elsewhere, we note that his opponent was an early supporter of SaveOurTrail and prominent member of NoST3. As Deputy Mayor of Sammamish, Ramiro Valderrama promoted a council resolution against ST3, which he characterizes as “taxation without transportation”. He pushed for a downtown growth moratorium over concerns about ‘dense’ development.
The STB Editorial Board currently consists of Martin H. Duke, Zach Shaner, Dan Ryan, and Erica C. Barnett.