Endorsements for city council races are starting to trickle in, and we are hard at work on ours as well.

With regards to the City Council, we have many, many candidates who are seeking their first office. This new council will see many important issues over the next few years. Some that are top of mind for us include:

  • Lifting the apartment ban on the majority of Seattle’s residential land
  • Keeping large housing projects from getting bogged down in NIMBY complaints
  • Staying strong on bike and bus priority in the face of parochial (or mayoral) pressure
  • Increasing funding for buses, either through a renewed Seattle TBD or another measure, hopefully in a way that helps get buses out of traffic

Unlike previous cycles, rather than select a single candidate we will rate candidates as “Excellent”, “Good”, “Fair,” or “Poor” based on their estimated policy impact, positive or negative, on transit and land use progress in Seattle. As most candidates in city council races don’t have any legislative or political experience, we’ll rely what’s in their platform and what they’ve said at various debates.

Here’s how we define those terms. This is evolving so we reserve the right to be inconsistent, but we’ll do our best to explain our thinking.

  • Excellent candidates are ones who have a passion for transit-related issues and the desire to spend political capital making our issues their issues. It’s one thing to call for the elimination of single-family zoning in a debate, it’s quite another to craft the policy and push it over the finish line.
  • Good candidates are ones we mostly agree with on issues but we either have some reservations or we don’t think that transit is a particular focus or passion.
  • Fair candidates we may disagree with on one or two major things and are at best a continuation of the status quo on the council.
  • Poor candidates are unqualified or hold many positions we actively disagree with.

The first round will come shortly. For city council, we’ll be offering ratings in Districts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Lisa Herbold in D1 hasn’t drawn any pro-transit/pro-density opposition, so we’ll save our ink.

In the meantime, let us know in the comments if there are any suburban races we should be thinking about.

The editorial board consists of Martin Duke, Brent White, and Frank Chiachiere

32 Replies to “About our 2019 endorsements”

  1. I like your approach. It makes a lot more sense than simply endorsing a candidate. That approach is something that the Municipal League has taken for a long time.

  2. Link will open during their terms. I would ask a question about that if a station is in their district. In particular, I would ask about what they would see as the important aspects of the Link opening in their community.

    I think it’s misguided to talk about bicycle priority but not mention pedestrian priority at all. This is the transit blog; for every trip that relies on a bicycle as a mode of access to transit , there are probably l at least 50 (if not more) that rely on walking as a mode of access. Pedestrian connectivity, including inside Link stations, is much more germane.

    1. I primarily get around by bike, but Al is right. The Mayor and Council have both been hostile to ped safety stuff; removing $3mil in funds that were supposed to go towards sidewalks and safe routes to school in the last budget, continuing to promote adaptive signals at the expense of pedestrians, and whatever the hell happened on 35th Ave NE that was ostensibly a middle finger to people biking but also resulted in drivers speeding 40+mph inches away from the sidewalk (#DurkanSpeedway).

      1. And approving years long projects that block or remove sidewalks without providing any reasonable alternatives. I’ve mentioned it before, but the crosswalk on the south side at Fifth and Union has been gone for over a year, but the signal there still has an extra phase giving cars a free right turn, i.e., the cycle is longer than it needs to be and pedestrians, forced to cross Union, have to wait an unreasonable amount of time because the signal was originally altered because left-turning traffic was held up by pedestrians. Why this wasn’t changed (and the developer charged for the cost) at the time the permit was approved makes no sense.

  3. In Kent, there are a few surprisingly good candidates for transportation issues. Marli Latimer understands induced demand, and wants to build as few roads as possible, and is pretty focused on getting better public transportation. Sara Franklin is a retired kcm bus driver and wants to make transit more accessible and equitable for all.

      1. Honorable mention to Mizan Rahman, who is challenging an incumbent and has good (if not amazing) transportation policies

  4. FYI: Heidi Wills, going for District 6 city council, is now against finishing the Missing Link, and has publicly repudiated her past vote for finishing the Missing Link when she was previously on City Council. She said at the candidate forum at the Nordic Museum that she would actively try to stop the Missing Link on Shilshole if elected. So her past record when she used to be on City Council is not indicative on where she is now — she’s much less biker and transit friendly.

    1. Wow, I just watched the video and.. that’s terrible. She actually talks about the loss of parking spaces, like that matters more than human lives, the environment, etc. Just shameful.

      1. Do you have a link to the video? I can’t find anything on her website to suggest she has now taken such a radical position. I thought she was a reasonable, decent representative that was ousted over total BS (“strippergate”). Everything on her website suggests the same. Not that it matters too much (I’m outside her district and not likely to use my coupons for her or any of her opponents) but I am just curious now.

      2. I did a little online “research”; Heidi Wills being in a minor way associated with the Colacurcio businesses should not be held against her. She lost her seat in a really dirty campaign (hey, it’s politics). She has significant positive experience in the intervening decades and an opponent bringing this up is suspect.

    2. Wills is not the worst major candidate in D6, but I’m extremely concerned that a lot of otherwise progressive people will vote for her out of fear of getting one of the really bad candidates (Garcia, Lisbin, Martin). She seems to give different answers to different groups, and can be baited into giving absolutely awful answers to law-and-order groups (check out her answers to the Downtown Seattle Association questionnaire).

      I’m stuck on what to do here, as a D6 voter. I think Melissa Hall is the best candidate, but I’m extremely concerned about her fundraising. Ed Pottharst is also pretty good, but his fundraising is even worse. It’s a big drop off after that to get to Dan Strauss, who is probably the best of the candidates in the fundraising lead, but he’s also not a Missing Link supporter (though the rest of his roll/walk/bike/transit positions aren’t bad).

      1. Supporting a lesser evil like Wills in the general because the alternative is even worse may be a sensible thing to do in the general, but no reason in the primary. The hard choice is between Hall, (best candidate on the merits), and Strauss, (maybe the best candidate with a decent shot of making the next round). There will be time to hold one’s nose and vote for Wills if necessary in the fall.

  5. Find as many examples as you can of decisions a candidate has made, and practical problems they’ve solved. Imagine them personally tasked with the outcome of Train 501’s first passenger run.

    Then, consider a write-in list your civic duty. Including a check as generous as you can afford by way of encouragement. And also some personal effort to persuade them to run. Because it’s History’s most solid political constant that the more the office demands an individual’s services, the more desperately they’ll struggle to avoid it.

    The story of Jonah ends with History’s most magnificent description of Mankind’s average electorate. More or less an entire voter-ship that doesn’t know its right hand from its left, not to mention all their pets and livestock.

    Fall 2013, fellow regional transit passenger in Gothenburg told me her nationality was Assyrian, and her name was Nineveh. Which is now called Mosul. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assyrian_people. Wouldn’t hurt for your candidate to reference.

    Mark Dublin

  6. I’m curious about who cares enough to show up at public meetings about transit issues. It’s easy to have an advisor help a candidate articulate a transit issue from afar; it’s another to show up at a public meeting and study the nuances of an issue. The West Seattle —Ballard study currently going on is one example of a topic where how the issues are addressed by candidates indicate how well they care about the trade-offs involved.

  7. I like the idea of rating on a transit/land use basis. While those are the issues this blog is devoted to, a choice of who to vote for has a lot more components to it and those might not be the top issues many people.. While the crop of candidates may not have political experience (except of course the incumbent) I think it’s legitimate to address how likely the candidate is to be effective. You can look at the persons job history and civic involvement outside of holding office. Have they run a business, held any type of supervisory role or volunteered in the community. I think you should also look at how “serious” they are on the issues. Number one, do they actually have a plan or is it free ponies for everybody.

  8. Kristina Walker who runs Tacoma’s transportation choices group Downtown On The Go is running for city council at large.

  9. Anyone know anything about the candidates for Kirkland city council? I just moved there and don’t know much the local politics.

    I’m looking for someone who is supportive of the continued development of the Cross Kirkland Corridor as a trail, including the bridge over 124th St. and connection to the Sammamish River trail, plus the eventual goal of having a paved bike trail and dirt walking trail side by side. (While I do ride the bus, I prefer buses to run on the street; I am not interested in a busway on the CKC).

    1. I don’t think you have a worry about the council with regard to supporting the CRC. Kirkland has made that a priority for years and owns their portion of the trail. The City has a very detailed and actively updated web page. The design is in place for the 124th crossing, a really cool spiral design to make grade and fit in the foot print created by the oblique crossing. I think the next big push is for elevators at S. Kirkland P&R. That seems like it might be a precursor to putting buses on the trail. Since you’re opposed to that I think focusing on that issue would be what to key in on.

      This Wednesday there is a CoB Neighborhood Walk starting at S. Kirkland P&R and going as far south as the new interim trail allows (the OMF-E facility ).
      Eastside Rail Corridor (North portion) Trail Walk

    1. I can’t get behind the multiple votes and weighting idea; although I do believe it address a legitimate problem. What we’ve been taught in school for at least 50 years is that what we have is a two party system. We do have a two party system (nationally) and although it’s messy I think European democracies have shown there is and should be a way to “vote the bums out of office” vs voting for the bum in the other party. Novoselic from Nirvana supports the idea of a weighted voting and articulates the rational for it very well. I don’t have a better plan but fear, in Washington, rules would be written such that it creates a one party system… as the top two run off has.

      1. The top-two system gives voters their first or second choice. The parties don’t like it because it prevents them from undemocratically getting second place on the ballot even if they’re only third or fourth in votes. The parties claim their “freedom of association” is being violated, but why should they be able to restrict whom people can vote for? Washington was one of a wave of states that came in on a populist tide, and people don’t trust the parties very much. There’s been continuous support for a blanket primary or top-two primary or something similar so that people can vote their choice rather than the parties inserting themselves into the middle to give them a choice of candidates.

      2. Mike,
        I’d love it if local elections – just local elections – had preferential voting. Be so nice to rank the candidates to either block a rogue one or find a second choice everybody can stand behind or both. As in I mean there are some people running for Seattle City Council I may not be endorsing because I like an opponent on non-transit issues, but I’d definitely want them on a transit board or advisory council over the candidate. I feel the same way about Skagit elections – I would like to keep a certain rogue/Trumper candidate or candidates out of office but don’t want to vote for the establishment candidate to do so at the same time.

  10. Please endorse Anthony Oddo for the at-large seat on the Bainbridge Island City Council (https://www.anthonyoddo.org/). Our ferry access to downtown Seattle means improving Bainbridge Island’s walkable, bicycle-friendly downtown core is an incredibly powerful way to reduce the number of cards on the road. Anthony is an urbanist and affordable housing advocate running against an anti-growth opponent. He is an advocate for safe streets, public transit, and multi-modal transportation. In his day job, Anthony is policy and programs coordinator at Housing Resources Bainbridge. When it comes to land use, housing, and transit, he gets it.

    1. Cars, not cards. Although we shouldn’t be littering cards on the road either…

    2. Our ferry access to downtown Seattle means improving Bainbridge Island’s walkable, bicycle-friendly downtown core

      I’d like to think this is a parody but I fear not.

      1. Dense is a relative term – I’m talking about Bainbridge Island, not Seattle. The Winslow neighborhood does have a walkable core of multifamily condominiums, rental units, and townhomes. Hundreds of people who live in that neighborhood walk onto the ferry during their daily commutes to downtown Seattle. For that reason, Bainbridge is far more supportive of public transit than many other communities of a comparable size.

        Our city’s comprehensive plan calls (required by the Growth Management Act) wisely calls for concentrating future growth in the Winslow core, rather than building sprawl throughout the island. Anthony Oddo supports the land use policy we need to increase the amount of affordable and car-free housing on Bainbridge.

      1. There is really no need (or credible proposal) to widen 305. The last time WSDOT studied the issue, if I recall correctly, 40-50% of people crossing the Agate Pass bridge every day were driving to jobs in Winslow – not to the ferry. Whether you want to reduce traffic or carbon emissions (hopefully both), we would combat both problems by building affordable housing in the Winslow core, so that people who live in Poulsbo or Silverdale but work on Bainbridge could afford to live close to their jobs. Improving our land use policy isn’t just important for places like Seattle – smart land use makes every town, no matter how big or small, a better place to live.

  11. 1) Ann Davison Sattler in D5 is a GOOD on your chart. I met with her, she’s for more buses and more density around light rail stations. Also cares deeply for the environment and for civility. Promised me she’ll help stand up to Alex Tsimerman, as Ari Hoffman has.

    For the record, I perceive excellent on your chart is Rob Johnson & Lorena Gonzalez. There you go.

    2) Ari Hoffman in D2 is a FAIR, barely. He’s pro parking at light rail and pro faregates and anti public comment abuse. When Ari learns that the Rainier Valley light rail must be elevated to get faregates, Ari might support that.

    3) Heidi Wills in D6 is an EXCELLENT. Proved herself getting the UPass for University of Washington. A consensus-builder, she’ll be a necessary transit ally on the new era council. I am also a big believer in second chances and hope you guys will too.

    I doubt seriously most STB commentators want Garcia. After all, get him get a Ballard Edition of Ari Hoffman. There is only one Ari fan who comments here often – me ;-).

    4) Snohomish County Council – I am real wary of endorsing Jennifer Gregerson for this position, but the door is by no means closed yet. See Jennifer Gregerson no “I’m gonna go get better transit” and stick to the cause. This is someone who delivered the tax increase in CT Prop 1 but where’s the new service for her own community of Mukilteo? Where was her public fumigation about being demoted on the Community Transit Board in the dark of night, the lack of which to me shows a lack of caring? There’s more non-transit smoke out there about her but it’s non transit and in local mainstream media so I will stop there.

    I also have to add one of her opponents won’t get my support by a simple cute statement she/he believes transit is part of the solution. OK, that’s great. The door is open. Now close the sale to my reluctant endorsement – tell me what you’re going to do to get Community Transit & possibly Sound Transit responsive to riders. Get all-day & all-evening service from Seaway Transit Center to the Mukilteo Multimodal Terminal.

    5) Here’s my problem: I want a fighter with fire in the belly in each of these local government positions. Someone with courage to stand with this STB commentariat (aka regular STB commentators & bloggers) on the issues that matter to us: Transit service, climate change/climate impact, transit agency accountability, density, etcetera.

    Courage being someone who will challenge Community Transit to do better and not accept staff excuses & delays. It’s no secret I have some residual anger over the fact it’s 2019 and we still don’t have an all-day transit connection from Seaway Transit Center to the Future of Flight to the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal.

    Not asking for Ari-sizing problems or boisterous outbursts here; sometimes I have found when yours truly resorts to that such behavior is counterproductive. But I want some principled leadership and some thunder. No more going through the motions. We are dealing with an era of great power transit competition to do more to make transit rock and TransLink to our north is collectively kicking our butts. We are also dealing with climate change and a homelessness epidemic poisoning our souls and our Earth. The time for going through the motions is over! OK?

    Thanks for hearing me out.

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