[UPDATE: Mike McGinn says we misunderstood his position on neighborhood involvement. We’ve corrected the paragraph by eliminating the reference.]
The STB Editorial Board, as always, evaluates its candidates solely on their ability to deliver its agenda of improved transit service and density. To explain our endorsement of former Rep. Jessyn Farrell, it is probably easiest to use the process of elimination.
Sen. Bob Hasegawa has poor instincts on transportation. In spite of being a former Metro driver, he puts a relatively high priority on cars. Although he eventually clarified that he supports ST3, he is better known for criticizing the agency’s governance, taxes, and impacts on the community in strident terms. Moreover, he views Seattle’s displacement crisis as created by taxes, including both regressive sales taxes and relatively progressive ones like MVET and property tax. This attitude is unlikely to lead to new and renewed funding for transit and housing given the available tools.
Nikkita Oliver shares Sen. Hasegawa’s skepticism of existing transit taxes as a net good. While we applaud her passion for public housing, she is unconcerned that her policies might discourage the private development that is also necessary for a sustainable and inclusive future. Finally, while she is a magnetic and effective organizer, her lack of public-sector political experience increases the risk she will fail to effectively form and implement policy in the departments.
Jenny Durkan has positioned herself as the continuity candidate from Mayor Ed Murray. We believe Mayor Murray has been historically effective in passing significant transit and land use policy changes, and a continuation of his policy machine is attractive. However, Ms. Durkan does not have a long record on transportation and land use, and does not appear to be the vehicle for a fundamental rethink of the centrality of cars in our city’s planning.
That leaves three major candidates with very strong urbanist credentials: former Mayor Mike McGinn, Cary Moon, and Ms. Farrell. They are all for more, broad-based density and de-emphasis on rapid throughput of cars.
Mike McGinn, as mayor, pushed for all the right things. He made many positive incremental improvements, but could not persuade the Council or voters to back his bigger initiatives. He may have learned from his tactical mistakes. But he recently issued a firm promise of no real increase in sales or property taxes. These are the principal levers available to fund necessary projects and programs. While sales tax is regressive, property tax is not. In any case, transportation and housing projects are both worth funding regardless of the source.
While we could further parse the policy statements of Cary Moon and Jessyn Farrell, these differences are small, and likely to disappear in the swirl of events and council politics.
Instead, we should examine who is most likely to deliver their agenda. Like Ms. Oliver, Cary Moon has no government experience and may have the same teething troubles that other novices have. We’d be prepared to take a chance on her, but for the presence of Jessyn Farrell.
Rep. Farrell has a long record fighting for transportation alternatives. Before quickly becoming a leading light in the small Olympia transit caucus, she was an executive at Pierce Transit. Before that, she was the head of the Transportation Choices Coalition, advocating for bike, pedestrian, and transit investments at all levels of government. In each position, she was working within the system rather than in the streets against it, which is exactly the skill set needed by a mayor. We believe Jessyn Farrell will do the best job advancing the best policies. She deserves your support for Mayor of Seattle.
The STB Editorial Board currently consists of Martin H. Duke, Dan Ryan, and Brent White.