Crowd waiting on southbound Westlake Station platform
The Mayoral candidates line up for a photo-op. Photo by Oran Viriyincy.

As of last Friday evening, it was official: no fewer than twenty-one candidates formally filed for the 2017 City of Seattle mayoral primary.  As usual, most of this unprecedented crop are unlikely, single-issue, or perennial candidates.  But Mayor Ed Murray’s announcement that he won’t run for re-election in the wake of multiple accusations of sexual assault encouraged a bumper crop of serious and credible candidates to throw their hats in too.  In that category (in alphabetical order) we would place former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, state Rep. Jessyn Farrell, state Sen. Bob Hasegawa, former Mayor Mike McGinn, activist Cary Moon, and attorney/organizer Nikkita Oliver.

Our focus on transit is obvious from our name, but we are also deeply passionate about land use and housing issues, as they are key both to creating a successful transit system and to retaining longtime residents while welcoming newcomers.  This post is devoted to presenting the above six mayoral candidates’ positions on those two issues in their own public words, with only a bit of commentary.  The campaign is in its early stages, and we will surely be hearing much more (for better or for worse) and doing interviews of our own.  But even as of today the contrasts are informative.  Hear out the candidates, below the jump.

Jenny Durkan
Former U.S. Attorney (2009-14)

As of yesterday, we have not seen any public statements from Ms. Durkan on transit issues.  If you are aware of any, please comment, and we will add them.

“[W]e have to address the fact that housing in Seattle has just become too expensive. Too many people just cannot afford to live here. Houses are too expensive and rents are sky high.  And those that are lucky enough to own homes see their property taxes increasing to amounts that just are not affordable. Because of Mayor Murray’s leadership on HALA, our building boom will result in more affordable units and millions of dollars targeted for affordable housing options. As Mayor, I will make sure we use that money wisely. I will also explore ways to go to Olympia and reduce the property tax burden for older homeowners, lower income owners and landlords providing affordable housing.” – Campaign Kickoff Speech, quoted at JennyForSeattle.com

Rep. Jessyn Farrell (D-46)
Former Executive Director, Transportation Choices Coalition

“[Rep. Farrell] said she wants light rail from Ballard to West Seattle faster than the currently proposed timeline of 2030 for West Seattle and 2035 for Ballard ‘and I have some ideas about how we’re going to do that.'” – The Stranger, May 12

“[Rep. Farrell] responded to [Brent’s STB post sharply criticizing House Democrats for passing a bill to change the Sound Transit MVET valuation schedule], conceding that legislators missed that the older valuation schedule was prescribed for the MVET in the ST3 enabling law until the ST1 bonds are retired, and that they had not intended to use a schedule that doesn’t reflect car resale value, which the 2006 table does very well. In response to a question on regressiveness, she pointed out that Sound Transit opted not to use the progressive head tax the legislature authorized. In response to what happens next, she was firm, “We say no deal if the Senate changes the bill at all in a negative way.” – STB, April 13. The Senate has not yet acted on the bill involved, and the issue of ST3 MVET valuation remains in limbo.

“[Rep. Farrell] said she supports the mayor’s housing affordability plans, which include some increases in density, but ‘we need to go bigger and bolder and faster.'” – The Stranger, May 12

Rep. Farrell has promised in multiple forums to offer further detail about her positions on both transit and housing in coming weeks.

Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D-11)
Former President, Teamsters Local 174

“I think [the ST3] vote was rigged. I don’t think the ST Board was really honest with the people on what we were voting for. As a legislator they told us Sound Transit 3 was a $15 billion package, and I verified what they were saying, and their news releases, and at the time we balked at the price. But traffic was so bad we had to do something. That was part of the transportation budget bill, which also contained the largest gas tax increase in the history of the state, at over 11 cents per gallon.  I think this was one of those times that elected officials really disregarded the impacts on fixed and low income people who are trying to make ends meet. Once we authorized the $15 billion, the powers that be went behind a curtain, massaged something and when they came back out popped a $54 billion project. They knew they had the votes to pass whatever they wanted to, so they were like kids in a candy store. I’m not saying I would’ve voted against it had they originally stated the true cost, but I would have liked to not have had the wool pulled over my eyes.” – Interview with South Seattle Emerald, May 10. Martin rebutted some assertions in this quote in a previous post.

“A person walking the dog, takes a dump on your front lawn, you expect them to pick it up and clean up after themselves.” – Interview with KIRO 7, January 28, 2015.  The analogy involved the addition of light rail service to South Seattle neighborhoods.

“The problem is [the City of Seattle] are charging $60 per permit to park in your own neighborhood to mitigate an impact that was created by Sound Transit’s construction there.” – January 2015 debate on a bill perennially sponsored by Sen. Hasegawa to require Sound Transit to pay for residential parking permits near light rail stations, previously covered by STB.

“Equitable development is in the eye of the beholder. What’s equitable for the developer is not necessarily equitable for the person who can’t afford to live in an area any more. I think the city has identified growth areas, and I’m not necessarily opposed to things like transit-oriented development. Regardless of how that development is implemented, affordability is also a relative term. I think what’s been missing out of the conversation is talking about public housing. I don’t know that the city has been doing any public housing developments – Yesler Terrace, I guess.  I’m not sure of the minute details of the deal the city did with Vulcan to develop that area but it didn’t seem like it was generally good for the public. I think it was scheduled to create 5000 new units, of which 1700 would be considered affordable. In the process they’re building fewer units than those that existed [This is wildly incorrect – STB]. That doesn’t deal with either the housing crisis or affordability when you start trading away your rights to developers. The city is looking to do what they can because they don’t have the financing mechanisms available to be able to build public housing, so one of the things I want to do is to create a municipal bank that would be owned by the people of Seattle.” – Interview with South Seattle Emerald, May 10.

“I’d like to push decision making down more to the neighborhood level.  [I would be in favor of bringing back the neighborhood councils], and give them some authority and budget to work with to develop their neighborhoods. If you have a problem that needs to be solved it’s probably best to talk to those impacted by the problem.” – Interview with South Seattle Emerald, May 10.

Mike McGinn
Former Mayor of Seattle (2010-13)

“Streets aren’t just for moving cars. Or even for moving buses, bikes, and people on foot. They are places that support the social and economic activity of a community and should be designed that way.” – Column in CrosscutMay 25, 2016

“What if in 2001, right after the Nisqually earthquake, we had decided to build transit? Instead of a ribbon cutting in 2019 for a new highway tunnel, the politicians could have celebrated new rail lines to Ballard and West Seattle then. The recently approved Sound Transit 3 program will eventually open those lines — in 2038, after an extra 20 years of terrible traffic.” – Column in Crosscut, April 5

“I’m in favor of the policies that I’ve always been for. I’ve been a supporter, as you know, of missing middle housing. In my term, we tried to make it easier to build small apartment buildings, microapartments, backyard cottages, and the like. We were for those things. The critique I’ve had—and this is, I think, where some of the confusion arises—was of the HALA process. It was good-hearted in the sense that a bunch of people came together to promote their best ideas, but coming from my own experience as mayor and my own experience in the green community, I could sense what was going to happen, and it did happen, which is that there were a lot of people who were left out of that process and there was an immediate backlash against the proposals, which led to some of the more promising proposals just being dropped [specifically, upzones of all single-family areas to allow duplex/triplex construction – STB] entirely right off the bat.” – Interview with The C Is For Crank, April 24

I think [the HALA] process is going to obviously run its course through the council. There’s a number of things happening and we can quibble over specific policy details, but I do think it’s not going to produce the types of changes in housing policy that we ultimate need. It’s just not the scale that we need. So we’re still going to have to revisit the issue of, how do we make it so that people can live here. – Interview with The C Is For Crank, April 24

Cary Moon
Former Director, People’s Waterfront Coalition

“Traffic congestion is one of the biggest growing pains in our city. We need to address housing costs and transit access together. Working people are being pushed out of Seattle to chase affordable housing in places that are not served by transit, which leaves them isolated from their communities and services. Lack of transit options forces workers to drive, compounding congestion on our streets. In addition to improving transit options, we need to focus on safe streets, walkable neighborhoods, a basic bike network and a strong freight and delivery network. We need to be efficient with our limited street space and make alternatives to driving more viable for commuters.” – CaryMoonForMayor.com

“Add more bus transit and protected bus lanes because when transit is fast, convenient and reliable, people use it.” – CaryMoonForMayor.com

“I think we missed some opportunities with HALA. There’s some good things in it. I like the mandatory affordability proposal. I like the proposals about what to do in single-family zoning to add townhouses and duplexes and accessory dwelling units—building the missing middle. But I think we’re missing some good opportunities. We’re not really understanding everything that’s driving up demand. So yes, let’s build houses for everyone who wants to live here, but there are other causes that are escalating housing prices that the city is not considering. We need to figure out what to do with those. If you look at what’s happening in other world-class cities, you see this phenomenon of outside investors piling on and taking advantage of everyone wanting to move here. It’s just like Wall Street—when Wall Street sees a stock go up two days in a row, all of Wall Street piles on to that stock. That same phenomenon is going on in our housing market. Housing used to be local. It used to be local players, building housing for local people. Now they’re acting more and more like Wall Street, where outside predators are piling on just left and right.” – Interview with The C Is For Crank, April 26

“How much of our condition of escalating prices in Seattle is driven by these other factors—these hedge fund speculators jacking up rents, Wall Street landlords taking starter homes off the market, and global hot money parkers? We can only guess, because the city or county doesn’t track who is buying what. We do know that 38% of purchases in Seattle real estate are done with cash, which is a red flag suggesting something is out of whack. We don’t know how many homes are used as primary residences or are sitting empty, or how many are used solely for AirBnB short-term rentals, or how many are owned by shell companies, how many are owned by Wall Street hedge fund spin-offs purely to extract maximum rents. It is probably some mix of all of the above. Clearly, these other forces beyond the local demand of job growth are driving up both rental prices and home prices—but we can only build a vague picture instead of crisp detail needed to fully understand the dynamic.” – Article in The Stranger co-authored with Charles Mudede, April 20

Nikkita Oliver
Organizer and attorney

“Nikkita and the Peoples Party are anti-displacement and pro-strategic equitable density development. Effective urban planning requires we also consider the implications for public transportation and the sort of infrastructure necessary to ensure 1) people without cars can safely, effectively, and efficiently get to and from work; 2) people with cars may choose to forego the use of their automobiles because public transportation is so effective; and 3) lessen the impact upon the City and environment of more cars on the roads. Lastly, the geographic constraints of the City cannot be overlooked, but they must be clearly articulated to the public and opportunity for questions, solution building and shared understanding of the implications must be created.” – SeattlePeoplesParty.com

“There is no compelling reason that Seattle should not require a larger amount of investment from developers that is at least comparable with the demands made by other large cities such as New York City and San Francisco. Nikkita and the Peoples Party will align with Jon Grant’s recommendation and require that 25% of all new up-zoned developments be affordable.” – SeattlePeoplesParty.com

“I think we need to get into communities and dig into, what does Seattle as a whole really want? And this is the whole platform that we’re running on. This is participatory government. And I don’t think we’re going to get to the answer easy because there are people who want hella density. Some of y’all are in this room. If we get more density but not better transportation, then we’re screwed. If we get more density and it still pushes black and brown folks out, we’re screwed. So, I think we have to put a pause and really think strategically. And there’s nothing wrong with thinking strategically. I don’t know why people are afraid of that. Evidence. It works.” – Live at Shadow Council, March 29

“What HALA and MHA does is, one, it doesn’t ask for enough in investment from developers in the city. It makes us very reliant on the private market to develop enough housing to meet the needs of the people who are already here and the people who are coming, and we just know from basic supply and demand that that’s going to increase the cost of housing. So yeah, we do talk a lot about displacement, because Seattleites of all colors and ethnicities and backgrounds have actually been displaced from the neighborhoods. So when we think about displacement, there’s making sure we don’t continue to push people out, and there’s finding ways to build enough housing fast enough that people could in theory actually come back. And I think it’s a multifaceted strategy. It’s not just MHA and HALA. It’s also thinking about market intervention strategies, like looking at who’s buying what, what places are left unused, addressing the conversation about speculative capital and how that’s impacting our overall economy.” – Interview with The C Is For Crank, May 15

“Q: Did you support the housing levy?
A: Which levy?
Q: The one that passed last year, that will bring in $290 million to build affordable housing.
A: Honestly I don’t remember.
Q: It was a property tax levy that doubled the amount the city is spending to build affordable housing.
A: That’s where we’re at, right? Using property taxes to pay for things. If we’re not asking developers to invest at a higher level, we’re going to have to continue to leverage the dollars of people that have already taken on the burden of what development is doing in our city instead of asking the developers to take their fair share of that burden.” – Interview with The C Is For Crank, May 15

59 Replies to “The Mayoral Candidates on Transit and Housing”

  1. So it sounds like they’re all generally pro transit and growth except for Bob Hasegawa and maybe Nikkita Oliver. I like Cary Moon’s quote on bus lanes and Jessyn Farrell’s quote on density, although her justification for that anti-ST3 car tab vote seems weak.

    1. Moon likes buses, but on her campaign site, she says nothing about link. Does she support light rail, or is she a closet anti-rail reactionary who believes buses will work just fine? You would think that a candidate with an engineering degree could see the need for ROW transit in a region w/ minimal room for more surface transit.

      McGinn seems to be the strongest candidate on the issues overall, particularly on support for light rail and a new SODO arena:).

      1. Why do we need a ra ra pro light rail candidate at this point? ST3 has passed and we have a pretty good idea of what we are getting from light rail in the next couple decades. At the city level we need to start working on how people will get to light rail and how to make amazing complimentary bus/bike/ped networks.

        Working well with ST on new alignments and station planning is important (Bob Hasegawa has dqed himself on that front), but I am way more concerned about everything other than light rail at this point and agree that so far Cary Moon has demonstrated the best understanding of what issues the city should grapple with.

  2. Any general thoughts on Greg Hamilton as an outside candidate?

    Noticed the following (very vague but promising) position on his website:

    “We are going to fix our horrendous traffic issues, improve our roads and bicycle lanes, update our public transportation, and create a world-class transportation system.”

    http://vote-greg-hamilton.org/

    1. Greg did a video of his campaign meeting-turned-into-kickoff. He railed against bike lanes on arterials, FWIW. Most of the also-stands aren’t really single-issue, to be fair, and Greg certainly isn’t. I suggest viewing his whole video if you are interested. I’d put him in the next tier of candidates behind the Big Six.

      Who knows. If the two legislators get stuck unable to raise funds due to McCleary-lock, Greg or one of the other more-fiscally-conservative candidates could break into the top six. There are no fiscal conservatives in the big six, leaving a big chunk of the electorate who could be looking elsewhere. And they have lots of candidates from whom to choose, if they make the effort to look.

      1. It’s a term that indicates that you should probably ignore the person using it, for your own mental health.

    2. Anyone who’s only statement is they’re going to “fix” traffic doesn’t really understand the issue and shouldn’t be trusted much. Unless they mention congestion pricing in the same sentence.

  3. “anti-displacement and pro-strategic equitable density development.” That’s politician speak for, “I support development only if my favored interests groups benefit. All other development is bad.”

    1. Many of those interest groups will clearly benefit from more dense development, especially those seeking to curb “economic displacement”, curb skyrocketing rent, or deal with homelessness in a serious way.

      It is great to see all the subsidized apartment buildings going up next to rail stations, but those thinking that will take care of the affordable housing crisis haven’t run the math.

      At least we’re moving beyond the age of defining “affordability” as simply limiting the income of who can move into, and stay in, some tax-breaked units. But we’re moving into an age where people are moving next to light rail because that is the only housing available. The whole process with who wins the lottery and where they are forced to move to is its own aggravating topic.

    2. I’m all for affordable units provided by the market & by public subsidy, and we need more of both. I’m not interested in setting aside affording housing for favored community groups, which is what Nikkita is advocating for.

      If she wants to raise the in-lieu fees, then sure that a reasonable position to take. But if you want to argue that development is bad because it changes the racial makeup of a neighborhood, I’m not interested

      1. I’ve never met Nikkita, or heard her speak, or read her material. So I’m not sure what’s meant by “racial makeup” in this connection. Since genetically, usual concept of race is garbage, we could mean a group’s long multi-generational experience.

        Like risking jail to marry a US citizen exactly like oneself except with a different skin color. Or more to the point here, being, by specific language in Federal housing programs, deprived by your skin color of the long-term benefits granted to others in your income bracket.

        So I’d want to know whether Ms. Oliver’s working definition of the racial makeup of a neighborhood means replacing people with seven digit incomes and prospects with people with same finances, but a different skin color. That, I’ll join you in opposing.

        But intelligent discussion here requires knowing the answer to one question: Alone among the hundreds of geographic origins and skin-colors…which group stood alone in diligently advancing itself by all our culture’s rules.

        To have the just rewards of its efforts taken away violence as ugly as it was legally protected? Google “Post-Civil-War Reconstruction”. Anybody in this country who finds that category of information boring has too little historic curiosity to vote.

        Mark Dublin

      2. If you take a look at Nikkita’s platform, nowhere does she suggest racial tests for affordable housing.

        “AGGRESSIVELY COUNTERACT DISPLACEMENT OF MARGINALIZED IDENTITIES…

        We must specifically counteract displacement of these historic communities. We can do this by: 1) substantially reducing or freezing property taxes to protect long-time residents; 2) protecting senior homeowners; 3) dramatically increase funding for existing senior home repair programs; and 4) create a stabilization voucher for long-time residents of low-income communities.”

        https://seattlepeoplesparty.com/housing-and-affordability

        The reason why these programs would disproportionately benefit marginalized identities is because those populations are disproportionately poor.

      3. Lack of development is worse. It changes the racial make-up of a neighborhood even faster. I sense she kinda sorta got that.

  4. Hard to form much of an early opinion on Durkan. Given Farrell’s actions & excuses related to ST3 taxes, for me personally those actions likely eliminate her from further consideration, regardless of any other positions she may hold that I agree with. Hasegawa is the worst and an automatic no. I would align pretty closely with McGinn, and his prior stint as mayor gives him a lot of experience to build upon, though whether he can effectively work with the council is perhaps questionable. I’d group Cary Moon in with McGinn as someone whose views I tend to support, but again whether she is capable of working effectively with the city council is uncertain. Nikkita Oliver seems too fringe.

    1. Not a single House Dem believes the absolutist “don’t touch the MVET” position is defensible.

      Excluding Farrell “from further consideration” is an impossible purity standard then, isn’t it? Every pro-transit legislator believes the MVET schedule needs to be fixed.

      1. I think your last sentence indicates you believe in an impossible purity standard.

        If the R’s succeed in gutting ST3 funding without a public vote, and after the voters specifically approved it, then I suspect there will be a court fight. But we will see.

        The ST3 package is heavily weighted towards regionalism. Any reconstituting of it is bound to favor urban interests over suburban/rural interests, if for no other reason than that is where the money is.

      2. I then look forward to the legislators explaining to the people in Tacoma and Everett that they’re the reason their projects are delayed.

      3. ST3 is already prioritized wit the highest-priority projects first as ST judges them. (Ballard is an exception because it depends on DSTT2.) Subarea equity ensures that there’s no urban/suburban favoritism: every subarea gets what it raises in taxes. An MVET revaluation would affect all subareas equally. There are minor differences — Seattle has more carless households, the suburbs have more P&Rs and low-density track — but it’s complicated to tell whether one subarea’s cutbacks are less harmful than another’s. Or even whether the percent of carless households is a valid comparison to consider. On the one hand they’re not paying MVET; on the other hand they’re not causing congestion.

        We don’t know how ST would handle a budget reduction, but I suspect it would mostly cause the deferral of the later projects. You can’t simply cut 30% from all the projects and still have viable projects. If a Link extension is short, it can’t reach the transfer point or connect to the next segment. You can defer the smallest stations, but deferring larger stations or P&Rs would lead significantly less access and ridership, more parking demand at the remaining stations, and continuing strain on the bus and road network that was supposed to be eliminated. So I suspect it would mostly come out of the late 2030s projects. That means Issaquah should be concerned, and Tacoma 19th Avenue. And after that Everett. Tacoma is sitting pretty since it has already saved up a lot of the money for its extension. But fans of 130th Station and Graham Station should be concerned.

    1. Bruce, any chance language could be changed to simply requiring that every car with a touch screen be fitted with a mechanism to turn the touch feature off soon as the car starts? Better yet to replace or refit these control-boards with actual buttons. Making it unnecessary to shift eyes and attention.

      The miles I’ve carried standing “artic” loads of passengers with a microphone in my hand make me skeptical of dangers of holding a phone. Button-dialing it- ticket that. But really get the sense that the whole commercially touch-screened new world takes Second Amendment Fundamentalist view of political influence. Use Citizens United or we’ll lose it.

      Mark

      1. Your post reminds me of a guy I used to know who went by the name of “Stew.” Poor Stew attended a party called The Final Lab at the end of the school year. Unfortunately this function was held on top of 5-Mile hill that year – basically a tabletop flat mesa with sharp drop offs on all sides.

        One of the roads was straight as an arrow, except of course for the 90-degree turn when it hit the sharp drop off at the edge of 5-Mile Hill.

        Poor Stew took that moment to change the radio station on his dial radio. Not seeing the turn, he blew right past all the love birds parked in their cars and launched himself out into space. Several hundred feet downslope he came to a rest.

        Stew lived, partly thanks to another bad decision he made. But the bottom line? You don’t need a touch screen to be distracted while driving.

      2. @Lazarus: Sure, it’s possible to be distracted by anything, especially when you’re on the way home from a big party (drunk? tired?). I generally don’t think rules against specific distracted-driving behaviors do much good — I’d rather see drivers be held responsible when they fail to look out for things they ought to see, in general… such as bends in the road.

        But the touch screens really do make it harder because they require your attention for longer — you have to look at the screen to find the button, then keep looking at it through touching it (because you can’t feel around for it like a real button) and after (to confirm the touch was registered correctly, because there’s no haptic feedback). Most in-dash systems do prevent you from fiddling with them while the vehicle is moving, but of course there’s no such limitation on many phone apps, including ones designed to be used while driving. Stew might have messed it up, but in most vehicles today you can use in-vehicle radio controls without ever taking your eyes off the road. Not so much with a phone’s touchscreen.

  5. It is a primary field like this that makes me wish that Seattle would implement ranked-choice voting, like San Francisco. The many pro-transit candidates will dilute pro-transit votes to the extent that none may make the runoff.

    1. I was thinking the same thing. There are too many candidates, and the result will likely be a mess. Polling might help the situation, but there is no reason why we can’t do better, especially if other cities do (as you mentioned).

    2. A video explaining the San Francisco ranked choice voting process is here: http://sfgov.org/elections/ranked-choice-voting

      One thing I like about it is that it makes it harder to run a negative campaign “against” someone. A person may not vote for someone who receives negative attacks, but the same person also may not rank the person who does the attacking because they also can look like a bad choice. As a result, I think ranked choice voting promotes civility.

      1. Great run down — I appreciate it.

        As far as candidates go, I like Farrel, and look forward to her policies being more fleshed out. I live in her district, and I’ve found her to be very responsive and thoughtful when it comes to emails. I don’t blame her at all for some of the sausage that comes out of Olympia. Everyone I’ve talked to — including former pages, who had the inside scoop — has said the legislature is dysfunctional. Comparisons were made to middle school.

        I like what Moon said, except I don’t like her emphasis on outside money and its influence on housing. There is no evidence to support that theory. We aren’t Vancouver BC (yet). Besides, the best way to suddenly shake up that outside money is to actually build the missing middle. A hedge fund manager thought they bought an apartment building that was a gold mine, only to find real competition in the form of thousands of new basement apartments. I really have no objection to looking into the issue, though. What scares me is the emphasis on it. It would be really easy to focus on that issue, pass some sort of foreign ownership tax, and call it a day. That will do little to reduce the cost of living in this town, yet be popular amongst the so called progressives (who want to blame the rich for every problem) and the folks who don’t want to see single family housing areas change.

        I like what McGinn said and was OK with him as mayor. He stumbled a bit at first, but found his stride after a while. I could never vote for Oliver or Hasegawa. Durkan is a complete mystery at this point.

        It would be nice if someone addressed the streetcar line. I’m afraid that all of them will say the same thing (just build it) even though I think it is waste of money.

    3. That’s a good idea. I’m hesitant to change the national voting system because of unintended consequences, even if it works well in foreign countries. But if some cities switch to ranked-choice voting it would give us a chance to see how well it works in an American context. Then some states could follow suit in congressional races. Our top-two primary system is a variation of the Louisiana primary so that gave us a reference point. And now Seattle is doing something else with its democracy vouchers, which may evolve into something bigger (although I’m ho-hum about it so far).

      1. In addition, mudslinging would lose its sway, up to a point.

        Candidates who engage in painting outside the box of issue debate would only be killing their own campaign. There would still be indie efforts to stop certain candidates. For example, RCV probably wouldn’t have helped Mayor Murray out of his mess.

        But speaking of mud, beware of the Condorcet and approval voting insincerists. They appear out of nowhere to muddy the waters when RCV is a proposal on the ballot, or at least to harass RCV supporters online. Then if RCV loses, they don’t make the effort to get Condorcet or approval voting onto the ballot. They are the electoral reform equivalent of BRT proponents who only promote BRT when light rail is on the ballot. But I seriously doubt the Eastside Transportation Association could figure out how Condorcet or approval voting works. RCV, at least, is as easy as 1-2-3.

      2. Hey, don’t tar us sincere approval voting supporters with the insincere ones. :p ;)

        Seriously, I like approval voting better and I think it’s simpler, but IRV is something I can still get behind. If it’s on the ballot, I’ll support it and vote for it.

  6. Wish I could say Seattle’s choice of mayors is no skin off my wallet. But since Seattle is midway up the transit system I’m still trying to build, and most important entity….lane length between first headlight and last tail-light in both directions between Portland ad Vancouver BC delineate my real political district.

    So for whatever it’s worth in the Free Market, starting with Pike Place, I’m pathetically grateful that it’s early enough to find six other candidates. Because the one thing present list have all got in common is that it’s only the ruin of Ed Murray’s personal life that put them in the race at all.

    Thankfully, I know somebody I think will make as good an interview subject as he will a mayor. I first met Ben Franz Knight, the executive director of the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority (PDA), about three years ago.

    The two of us walked from Jackson and Occidental to the north end of the Waterfront. Excellent transit and land-use recommendation for him is his announced decision to leave fights like Waterfront streetcar return to people like me. And concentrate on the car-line stopping close to his office.

    But here are his two main qualifications. One, he’s chief administrator of a civic organization worth some neglected attention, re: both land use and transit. And two, given US political history, most important, he doesn’t want the job.

    http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/the-head-of-the-pike-place-market-renovation-wants-to-keep-it-weird/

    Please get an interview with him. Your civic duty will also be one of your all-time best postings.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Just to clarify the record: Nikkita Oliver entered the race before the rape allegation went public. Mike McGinn and Cary Moon at least entered the race before Murray withdrew.

    1. So is New York City or Washington, DC the New England Patriots of public transportation?

      1. For those of us who don’t follow sports, what does it mean to be the Patriots of transit?

      2. Patriots = means you are an evil, ruthless organization that cheats to win.

        Sincerely,
        Fan of a team that loses to the Patriots every year.

        (But seriously… Patriots = best run & winningest team in the league)

      3. I consider transit politics to be like the NFL. It’s like political football – 11 adults vs. 11 adults fighting like hell for 60 regulation minutes to advance transit forward.

        I mean this is football and fun and we should enjoy it! For people like me who can’t stand the baseball or the NBA, it’s like projecting the NFL 12 months long.

        Clear?

    2. Tsimerman isn’t running for mayor as far as I can tell. He is running to be the City’s [inappropriate language] [ethnic slur] [Hitler reference].

      1. How about the City’s Troll-in-Chief, that work? Tsimerman’s now got his own group of trolls down there at the ST comment period.

        Thank G*d for Transportation Choices sent somebody and a few other like-minded folks braved the storm. I’ll leave it at that.

  7. I support Oliver. While her focus is clearly not on density, she is not ideologically opposed to it. Rather, she wants a just transition to density that minimizes displacement and takes care of those who are displaced, which everybody here supports in theory even if we disagree on the particular policies. Her comments on transit are also encouraging, which makes sense because high quality transit will play a critical role in the transition. While McGinn talks about engaging communities before pushing change, Oliver has been doing that for years, and I trust her to continue that as mayor.

    Much fear has been stoked about the 25% MHA proposal, but it is the least important prong of her housing platform. Far more important is her promise to tax big businesses for a massive public housing effort. Building out our social housing, akin to cities like Vienna, is the just approach for building our way out of the affordability crisis. This does not exclude developer-oriented approaches like upzones and incentives, rather it dovetails with them. Furthermore, her call for temporary emergency rent control will help keep communities in place as building occurs around them, aligning community interests with those of developers.

    These demands align nicely with my favorite article on the politics and economics of displacement. It contains a great insight:

    “The two sides in this fight see different economic mechanisms behind displacement. One group says prices are rising and people are being displaced because we aren’t building enough housing, while the other group sees new housing development as one cause of gentrification and displacement. If we look more closely, they are not really two different mechanisms as much as the same mechanism working at different geographic scales. New development may lower prices regionally even while it raises prices in a specific neighborhood.”

    http://www.shelterforce.org/article/4408/why_we_must_build/

    1. I’m predisposed to like Oliver, but that last answer is pretty troubling, unless I’m misreading. Mayoral candidates need to know whether they supported last year’s housing levy (or really any $300 million levy). Especially one making housing a central theme of her campaign.

      1. That was pretty bad, but she did read up on it and articulate a position later:

        “The city has already begun investing public dollars in affordable housing through the housing levy, which doubled property taxes for affordable housing last year. In a recent interview with Erica C. Barnett, Oliver did not know what that levy was. Oliver told The Stranger today she is familiar with the levy and supported it, but believes it was not sufficient to meet the city’s housing needs.”

        http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/05/17/25148870/kshama-sawant-will-endorse-nikkita-oliver-for-mayor-jon-grant-for-city-council

        This was Oliver’s flub, but she deserves another chance with the transit and density crowd.

      2. There’s a kind of political flub that can be effectively neutralized and forgotten by a proper apology–say, an inadvertent oversight or offensive remark. Her response to Erica about the housing levy was not one of those. It was troubling not because it was offensive or insensitive but because it was revealing of a staggering ignorance and/or indifference about the politics of affordable housing in the city. It demonstrates she really hasn’t given these issues much thought.

        This isn’t surprising; she entered the race as a protest candidate for a series of important issues back when everyone assumed Murray would win easily. This made a lot of sense–the lack of serious contenders gave her a clear shot to make it through the primary, and she’d have a great megaphone to push for her issues (very important ones, on which she’s generally 100% right, IMO), and if she cleared 40% everyone would be impressed.

        Then, suddenly, it was a wide-open race. But she wasn’t well-positioned to make the transition to a candidate trying to actually win, because there are lots of important issue areas about which she just doesn’t know much of anything or has developed any real ideas or plans.

    2. Furthermore, her call for temporary emergency rent control will help keep communities in place as building occurs around them, aligning community interests with those of developers.

      There’s simply no empirical or theoretical reason to think that would be the effect of political behavior on rent control. What we see in other cities is that rent control makes rent controlled tenants a natural ally of homeowners who wish to restrict the housing supply (an, as a result, an enemy of poorer renters who didn’t win the good timing lottery). If she’s got an argument for why that dynamic wouldn’t occur here, she should make it.

      But more generally, in the context of Seattle politics in 2017, when I hear a politician start talking about rent control, it’s difficult to take them seriously. I’m a rent control skeptic for a variety of reasons, but that has nothing to do with this reaction–even if I thought rent control were a fantastic policy I’d have the same reaction. Anyone with a clue about Washington politics knows rent control is not going to be legalized by the legislature in the short or medium term. Happily, the city does have a wide variety of other (better, IMO) policy options for addressing housing affordability. Many of these options require some kind of sacrifice, either through taxes paid or unwanted nearby development tolerated. But with rent control, no sacrifice is necessary–greedy landlords will have their greed curtailed, and the rest of us must do nothing. There’s an analogy to what she’s doing here to Republicans who pretend we can address any shortfall in tax revenue by reducing unspecified “waste and fraud in government”–it’s a pretend, not workable, but seemingly cost-free solution to a problem they have no interest in solving.

      As a general rule, I treat politicians who respond to a crisis by continually returning to and calling for policies that (whether good ideas in the abstract or not) a) aren’t legally possible and b) appear to be cost-free to most voters aren’t actually particularly interested in addressing the crisis, but rather using it bolster their image. This is a sound rule, and it’s unclear why I should make an exception for Oliver (or Sawant or Grant).

  8. The more I learn about all the candidates for mayor of Seattle the happier I feel about living in the South End. All the candidates are pro huge tax increases, they hate cops, think people outside Seattle are subhuman and think murder victims like Josh Wilkerson deserved to be killed.l

    1. think people outside Seattle are subhuman

      Yes, that would explain why so many of them are in favor of aggressively adding housing, to make room for more of those “subhumans” to move here (eyeroll)

      1. Exactly, they only see us as people when we live in the city. We want to stay in the south end well then we are too stupid to see that we need to be under their care.

      2. Can you please provide one specific example of a statement by one of the mayoral candidates that indicates a belief that a preference for living in South King County is evidence of subhuman-ness?

      3. The cities’ governments all recognize that they have the same problems and need to work together on solutions. “Seattle problems” like homelessness, drugs, gangs, poverty, multiple languages in elementary schools, unaffordable housing, congestion, etc, all spilled out into the suburbs decades ago. (Although unaffordable housing and mega-congestion was more recent — in both Seattle and the suburbs.) When Olympia was deciding ST3, the King County cities sent a united letter supporting it, and they do the same in other areas.

        The biggest difference is between the larger cities and smaller cities. Larger cities like Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Kent, Tukwila are expected to bear the largest burden of growth and social services. Tiny cities like Medina and Pacific are allowed to remain as-is and let their larger neighbors carry the burden. Des Moines is in between, since it’s smaller than Kent or Tukwila but larger than Pacific, so it may be in a borderline status where expectations are less clearly defined.

        “they only see us as people when we live in the city.”

        They only have responsibility for you when you live in the city. That’s different from seeing you as a person or respecting you.

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