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.

Ballot Measures

st3mapYES on Sound Transit Proposition 1Our 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 1After 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 2Prop 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 1This $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 1The 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.

Statewide Offices

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.

Other Offices

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 – 33rd District: Mia Su-Ling Gregerson is proud to have brought light rail to Seatac. Her opponent wants to allow more cars into HOV and transit lanes, and ban tolling.

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 DistrictDan 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.

37 Replies to “STB November 2016 Election Endorsements”

  1. Great picks! Especially my friend Jill! Awesome news!

    I wouldn’t have endorsed for WA Governor to send a message to Jay that enough’s enough. The gas tax highway expansion increase shoulda seen referendum. Not to mention we need some GET ‘ER DONE in Olympia (Go Bill Bryant!).

    Thanks guys.

    1. Joe, we don’t believe in “sending messages”. We believe in supporting the candidates that will create the best policy outcomes.

      1. Thanks Martin. Duly noted. I don’t think either Inslee or Bryant will create good pro-transit policy outcomes, but Bryant is a better leader.

        Again, great endorsements otherwise. Especially on Regional Prop 1 & Jill Johnson.

  2. These endorsements are very disappointing if for no other reason than I feel dumber for reading them. There is almost zero substance here. Thanks making these endorsements meaningless for voters with brains.

      1. So I shouldn’t expect more than 10 words saying to vote for X? I should expect STB to say “this candidate is temendous!”? These are bare-thin endorsements. Those getting them should hardly be thankful and the voters learn nothing in the process. It’s also corrupt that they endorsed a candidate that paid them for advertising to fundraise for said candidate. The endorsement group should really reconsider the way they do this. And week late is just embarrassing. Perhaps that explains why there was zero thought put into this mess.

      2. Newspapers endorse candidates who happen to have paid for ads in that paper, but there’s no conflict of interest because the advertising dept. is separate from the editorial dept, which doesn’t make decisions on who paid for advertising.

      3. What would a substantial endorsement look like? It’s hard to see how these could get any more substantial since they list specific ways the candidate or their opponent has acted for or against STB’s policy preferences. STB is intentionally silent on non-transit, non-land-use issues. Other organizations make endorsements based on other criteria so you can compare these to them if you want.

    1. Yes, Kitsap plans to dock at the passenger facility at Colman Dock. They have been planning carefully with King County’s Marine Division. They both envision an integrated service where KC crews pilot and maintain their boats and control the dock. This will be good for Kitsap and for King County, driving down costs for both.

  3. 31st LD: Lane Walthers. It is the choice between a pseudo progressive and an anti-tax Tea Bagger (not sure the proper term for a member of the Tea Party, but seems appropriate?). Walthers will be sympathetic to, if not supportive of, transit, whereas Fortunato will be downright hostile to any and every government entity which spends money except, perhaps, road projects. I discussed transit with both Fortunato and Walthers in person in recent months. (Both have been out doorbelling, extensively.) Walthers is the closest thing we will get to a transit advocate in the 31st LD. It should be added that Walthers is notably anti-sprawl, as outlined in all of his literature, and puts the blame for congestion squarely on the shoulders of developers who build in outlying areas without providing appropriate improvements – road, transit, or otherwise – to serve these developments.

    1. … revenue-negative as pertaining to income from the typical taxpayer, not to the polluters paying the carbon tax, that is.

    2. Brent, I was out doorbelling for I732 yesterday…but I don’t claim that it is a tax reduction. Just about all of us are “polluters paying the carbon tax” – it is not evil, it is simply something that we have to stop doing, over not-too-long a time, and shifting the tax burden to make carbon pollution costly is a very useful tool to that purpose. It’s not a tax reduction.

      1. Yes, I-732 will reduce the state sales tax.

        Even if you don’t drive a car you’ll feel some effect from the carbon tax. Farmers in Washington will pay more to run the equipment that grows your food, truckers will pay more to get the goods you purchase to their destinations, electricity costs may rise if your utility operates coal/oil-burning plants or purchases electricity from those who do, etc.

        The idea is that the average person will come out even. If you use less carbon than average you’ll come out slightly ahead, but it does no good to pretend that you can just ignore the carbon tax.

      2. And utilities will find it relatively cheaper to switch to cleaner forms of energy, and customers will increasingly pressure them to do so. Individuals will have greater incentive to install solar hot-water heaters and better heating/cooling systems. Electric cars and buses will become more cost-competitive with petrol cars and diesel buses.

      3. Farmers in Washington will pay more to run the equipment that grows your food

        Last I had heard (which was some years back) John Deere was working on a battery version of at least some of its equipment.

        I’d be kind of interesting if the pro-carbon fuel rural areas wind up adopting battery vehicles on a large scale faster that anti-pollution urban areas.

    3. @Mike – private utilities are already required to find the least cost source of energy, so I732 will either keep cost flat or raise them. The pricing is more relevant at the consumer level.

    4. As much as I like the idea of a carbon tax, I am also skeptical of the ability of initiative writers to get the details right and avoid unintended consequences (will the effect on state revenue or local revenue really, be neutral) especially for something as complicated as I-732. The fine print also indicated that the carbon tax would apply to transit agencies (albeit at a slower phase-in rate), which could translate into slightly less bus service. Overall, the complexity of the initiative reminds me of the state income tax initiative a few years ago, which failed by a large margin.

      1. I also have been getting more leery of initiatives the past few years, both because of the problem of amateur or unbalanced law-writing, and because it may give undue advantages to the initiatives’ organizers that aren’t readily apparent. The monorail initiative was pretty sloppy, and the marijuana initiative had some sortcomings. But some things have to be done by initiative either because the legislature disagrees or they’re afraid of their party’s base. Gun control (can’t cross the NRA), marijuana legalization (can’t be seen as supporting drugs), breaking the liquor-distribution monopoly, income tax (can’t raise taxes), climate action (Inslee tried and the Republicans blocked most of it).

        I wish I-732 didn’t set a fixed sales-tax reduction but let it float with the amount of revenue received by the carbon tax: that’s what I thought a refundable tax was. But something that’s approximately good is a good step. And the legislature can modify it in two years if it needs adjustments. As for the shortfall in the budget it supposedly creates, that’s such a non-problem because the legislature could easily raise another tax to fill it — it just hasn’t been willing to.

  4. 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,

    Roundabouts slow traffic, but has anyone figured out how to get through them as a pedestrian without getting killed?

    I guess I’ve always looked at them as a traffic throughput increase device since they tend to replace 4 way stops with yield signs. There are definitely places I feel they are an impediment to transit access and other STB goals.

    1. Agreed. It seems like the most common (safest?) design for a pedestrian crossing at a roundabout is to paint the crosswalk on the road a short distance after the roundabout, but that makes people walk around the corner and back again just to go straight, which isn’t great.

    2. Much of the problems you see with pedestrian access at roundabouts is due to the geometric choices when they’re designed.

      Most roundabouts in the US are designed to allow drivers to enter and exit at shallow angles so they can continue at a fast speed. The roundabout you posted is a great example, in that if you wanted to turn right you can enter and exit the roundabout in one smooth angle, meaning that you can go through at speed.

      On the other hand, the legs on Dutch roundabouts connect with the circle at a slightly more perpendicular angle, which makes it so drivers have to slow down when they enter the circles. Instead of being able to turn right in one smooth turn you’re forced to make two smaller turns, making them vastly safer for people walking and biking.

      The different designs are small geometric tweaks that have a very large difference in safety. Of course this being the US–where the idea of designing road infrastructure that discourages killing those not driving is generally a foreign concept–we’d likely get the more dangerous design exemplified in the Portland example you linked.

    3. None of these roundabouts will be replacing 4 way stops. They are either replacing traffic lights or intersections where drivers on Newport Wy previously did not need to stop.

      Cars are supposed to yield to the pedestrian at a painted crosswalk. So pedestrians will either have the same right of way they had already at these specific intersections, or a new crosswalk exists where one does not already.

      The roundabouts should be much smaller than the one you linked to, so traffic will circulate much slower. The intersections all have good sight-lines, so as someone who runs on this stretch of road already, I think it will be pretty easy for pedestrians to cross.

    4. I love roundabouts when I’m biking, but I agree they are neither safe nor comfortable as a pedestrian

  5. 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.

    I once went to Kingston from Edmonds specifically to get the SoundRunner ferry as it was faster than dealing with the CT 113 + I-5 bus slog. I missed the connection by 2 minutes and the afternoon trip was only once a day so I never got to actually ride it.

    1. If Kingson has its own ferry to downtown (eliminating the need to connect to Sounder north), and Link goes from downtown Seattle to Everett in the same amount of time as Sounder north, then can Sounder north finally be killed?

      1. State Ferry + Sounder North would still have been faster but it wasn’t running southbound as it was afternoon.

        Edmonds to King Street is only about 30 minutes on Sounder. The current bus options in the afternoon range from 1.5 to 1.8 hours, if traffic is doing whatever the schedule writers expect it to do. I find it’s best to just budget at least two hours.

        So, it depends on how well they plan the interconnecting tangle of bus routes.

  6. There’s actually a fair amount of residential development in Kingston within walking distance of the ferry dock. Not much of it is high (or even medium) density, of course, but that can change over time. In other words there’s people who could walk to that ferry RIGHT NOW if it were in service. They won’t ALL have to drive (though odds are many will).

    The mention of commuter rail as an analogue to the ferries was spot-on. Many commuter rail stations in suburban Chicago and Boston serve mostly low-density areas. Some customers walk from their homes, some use the park-and-ride lot, some use connector buses. On the subject of the latter, Kitsap Transit already does a good job of timing its buses to meet state ferries. No reason they couldn’t adjust the schedules a bit so they dovetail nicely with the new fast ferries.

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