District 6 is Northwest Seattle. Besides the coming light rail station in Ballard, the Burke-Gillman Missing Link looms large over this election. Read Seattle Bike Blog for a deeper discussion of these candidates and the Missing Link.

Excellent

Dan Strauss

Dan Strauss is a cyclist who wants to create a network of bus lanes and protected bike lanes. He is more moderate on opening up more housing options, but better than most of the rest in this NIMBY-leaning field. He has worked in politics for a decade (most recently as an aide to Sally Bagshaw) and therefore understands the system. He prefers to build the Missing Link on Leary Way (see above).

Melissa Hall is another density advocate who defines livability through a walkability and equity lens. She wants to apply that equity lens to how public space is divvied up among transit modes. She cites STB’s David Lawson as an influence on transportation issues, which is a very good sign. She’s worked as both a land use attorney and a planner, which is great preparation for issues facing the council. Hall opposes congestion pricing, but she is one of the few candidates who wants to stop talking and build the missing link.

Good

Jay Fathi is a physician who wants to build Ballard Link faster, invest more in public transit, build more housing so people don’t have to commute as far, and decarbonize our transportation system. He’s in favor of congestion pricing and wants to convert single family zones to “residential zones” to allow more housing types. He’s noncommittal on the Missing Link and is light on political experience.

Ed Pottharst is a bicyclist and long-time City employee who advocates for congestion pricing and offers the idea of free transit passes and income-basing the congestion charges as mitigation. He supports the Shilshole Ave option for the Missing Link, more bike lanes including on 8th Ave NW, and restructuring bus routes to better feed light rail and connect urban villages to each other more frequently. We have concerns about his work on the Phinney Neighborhood Association during its fight to stop more apartments from being built in the neighborhood (see our update here).

Terry Rice is a manager at a small tourism company and a critic of NIMBYism and Seattle’s racist land-use history. He has the right ideas (aside from opposition to congestion pricing), but is short on specifics and experience.

Fair

Heidi Wills is a former councilmember who lost her re-election bid after her involvement in a campaign money-laundering scandal. She helped pass the UW’s U-Pass program while serving as Student Body President. She has good policies on transit (congestion pricing, dedicated bus lanes) but wants to defer to neighborhoods on density (spoiler: they’ll be against it). Willis also wants to build an “elevated” Missing Link, which seems problematic.

Poor

Sergio Garcia is a police officer who complains about pedestrians crossing intersections at the wrong time, causing car traffic to not be able to move. That is the entirety of his transportation platform.

Joey Mazza wants to “expand the water taxi system on Lage[sic] Washington and the Puget Sound”. And secondly, he wants to “stop dysfunctional transportation projects in their tracks.” Hmmm.

Kate Martin calls herself an “old-school urbanist”, and is literate enough on transit to quote Jarrett Walker before twisting his words into a justification for mandatory parking minima (albeit at a lower level than current city law). She doesn’t hide her feelings when she goes on a screed against developers and those who support densification. She opposes both HALA and the current ADU legislation.

Jeremy Cook wants more parking availability, and cheaper parking. Pick one or the other, please.

Jon Lisbin is a former president of the anti-densification group Seattle Fair Growth.

John Peeples is open-minded on the hypothesis of global cooling, and wants to open up all bus and bike lanes to general traffic.

The Seattle Transit Blog Editorial Board currently consists of Martin Duke, Frank Chiachiere, and Brent White.

42 Replies to “Seattle District 6 candidate ratings”

  1. Is it proper to lead a description of a political candidate with his disability? Is Ed Pottharst’s disability the defining component of his campaign (or the defining component that would be of interest to the audience of this blog)?

      1. Are you sure it was the PNA who led a “fight to stop more apartments from being being built in the neighborhood”? Are you thinking of the Greenwood Community Council?

        I would be very surprised and disappointed to find out the PNA was involved in land use politics.

        Thanks for sorting through all of the candidate information for this district, it’s a lot.

      2. The PNA is a nonprofit org based in the Phinney Center focused on building community in the neighborhood. They have educational programs, senior programs, a preschool co op, a tool library, a farmers market, the best beer taste in the city, and many other programs. It’s completely different than the community councils, which are the groups that until recently had quasi government roles and mostly consist of homeowners getting mad about land use.

      3. He talks about it quite a bit, and does not hide from it. He doesn’t tell people to vote for him because he’s deaf, but he clearly presents it as part of his backstory, and how it informs his positions. It’s a mistake to erase it.

        I would strongly push back against that the idea readers of this blog don’t care about his disability. If you are a transit advocate who isn’t interested in disability rights, then you are not a transit advocate. These issues are very closely intertwined.

        I personally started advocating when my disability forced me out of the drivers seat and onto buses, only to find how limiting the bus system where I lived at the time was. The number of people in this state who can’t drive because of a disability is quite large. Transit is a lifeline to a person in a situation like this. If our transit isn’t serving people with disabilities, then it isn’t doing its job.

  2. I am a little mystified why the missing link figures so prominently in the endorsement write-ups — almost appearing as the only campaign issue.. I’d rather see a primary focus on direct transit issues rather than a tangential bicycle one.

    1. It’s important to many voters in district 6. I cannot vote for Dan because he appears to side with Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel, CSR, and etc. on this issue and against many people who he would represent. That’s a huge red flag. These interest believe they should have sole use of Shilshole for their trucks and free parking their cars.

      Leary is for transit.

      The multi-use trail is funded, studied and shovel ready. There should be no more delays. It will improve an area that needs safe infrastructure for everyone.

      1. I think it is relevant in this case. It is possible that people are making too much of it, but Dan’s position is worrisome. Adding bike lanes to Leary means more conflict with buses on both Leary and Market. It is bad enough that the current compromise puts bikes on Market, but they would be west of 24th. If the bike lanes went on Leary, then you would have to have bike lanes as far east as 22nd. This would lead to slower buses, as well as make it more difficult to add bus lanes on Market. Major bus corridors and major bike paths shouldn’t mix.

        In other respects, Mr. Strauss seems like a very good candidate. Taking an unusual (and flawed) approach makes me wonder about his judgement in regards to transit and bike issues.

      2. I agree. I’m still torn on whether to vote Straus (clearly the best of who appear to be the four major candidates) or Hall, the best candidate. Voting Hall is just expressive, and increases the odds of a nightmare Wills v Sergio November choice, so I probably won’t, but I am tempted.

    2. I think it is a pretty good litmus test for the level of commitment to actually building non-car infrastructure. Saying “build it on Leary” is preposterous – that’s code for “don’t build it for a few years, if ever”

      Will they support Ballard Link if the construction requires a similarly important decision that could antagonize a powerful interest group? Or will they say, nah, let’s build it later after we study it again.

      I was riding along Shilshole yesterday – the level of aggression from drivers is ridiculous. Several drivers were passing parking cars in the oncoming lane & forcing other drivers to stop for them. It is a real safety issue, no sense in denying it.

    3. Because the Missing Link decided to rear its ugly head (yet again) just in time for election season and forced the candidates to make it a major talking point.

      Although with a vast majority of Ballardites in support of Just Building the Damn Thing on Shilshole™, I am perplex why so many candidates are wishy-washy or even opposed to the Shilshole route.

      1. While the Ballard Safe Seattle crowd frothed at the mouth at Mike O’Brien’s “failure” to solve homelessness, MOB also ticked off the Shilshole businesses with wanting the Burke Gilman on Shilshole (apparently MOB got shoved/into a shoving match at the Nordic Museum opening with the Shilshole business types). I can understand (if not defend) not wanting to pick a fight with the Shilshole (“Intransigence Forever”) business group, lest you be called a MOB clone. (Although I think Fathi may have been the only person who would have given MOB a race)

      2. I asked Dan this question a few months ago. His answer wasn’t that he opposed Shilshole, but that he didn’t want to spend political capital on it, and would rather have spent it on the downtown basic bike network.

        That’s a defensible, but not ideal, answer, given how much of a political price O’Brien paid for his advocacy for the Shilshole/Market compromise.

    1. If we had instant runoff voting I would gladly place Hall at the top of my rankings, and Strauss second. Unfortunately with the stupid top-two primary that we have, I need to make guesses about who actually has a chance at cracking the top two, and vote for my favorite among that group.

      I have a sense that Hall is not viable enough to make that cut, and I would much rather have Strauss on the final ballot than two people on the “fair/poor” lists above. I am however open to being shown data that Hall actually does have enough support. I plan to wait a week to see if anything changes before I submit my ballot.

      1. There’s been so much “I like Hall but I don’t know if she can get through” that it seems every such person could vote for Hall and she would get through. My perspective on top-two primaries is to vote for who I want in the first round, and then vote against who I don’t want in the second, even if it means needing to deal with a mess like Wills vs Garcia.

      2. I eventually made the choice for Hall over Strauss, but it was a tough choice. I think Hall has the best policy positions, though Strauss has raised a lot more money, and is running a much better campaign (though Hall is clearly learning from her early mistakes).

        I think the most likely final two is two of the three: Wills, Strauss, and Fathi, but it’s such a wide field that I won’t be surprised by a different result. I think Hall has enough support that she could squeak through, which is why I’m voting for her. In terms of the non-Wills nightmare scenarios, Garcia is still a possibility, but I think Wills has basically crowded him out among the tough on crime crowd. Lisbin’s campaign is surprisingly weak – I think he’s in a weird spot where he’s appealing to NIMBYs but not the tough on crime folks, and I don’t think there are that many people who hold that combination of beliefs. Martin, Peeples, Cook, and Massa are not serious candidates, and should not be treated as such.

      3. I see a lot of the Ballard bars and restaurants with Garcia signs– I asked a bar owner why and she said he showed up asking for their vote. I just hope Strauss or Hall makes the final round, and if neither of them make it, Fathi would not be horrific. Hope the Hall v. Strauss debate does not result in the Moon/Farrell/Oliver cluster—- that resulted in Mayor Durkan.

    2. The good top-two primary. Otherwise one of the slots may be taken by somebody who has little public support but is guaranteed a space by being one of the two major parties. Democracy is for people to chose their leaders, not for parties to limit their choices.

      1. With instant runoff voting there would be no need for a primary at all. You could have all twelve candidates on the ballot in November and you’d be guaranteed to have a winner who most of the voters like pretty well.

        As it is now, you could easily have two candidates come through with about 15% of the relatively tiny off-year primary electorate supporting each of them, and that’s all we get to choose from in November.

      2. The top two primary is nothing new to Seattle municipal elections, which have been nonpartisan as long as I’ve been here.

      3. Apologies, I missed the instant runoff part. I agree instant runoff would be better. The top-two primaries solved a serious problem we had with the traditional system. Washington state was founded in a populist wave and people have ever since resisted the parties’ attempts to grab power and limit who people can vote for. We used to have a blanket primary and that was popular, but the parties got it struck down and for several years we tried different systems as the people vied for the right to vote for whom they want and the parties vied for their “freedom of association”, then finally we got the top-two primary which selects people by the most votes rather than party slots.

      4. Morgan, I read that page about “Range Voting” and it seems much more complicated than IRV. Do I think that “X” is a six or a seven? What about “Y”?
        It’s hard to say — maybe 5? — but I know that I prefer “X” to “Y”. And if I have NO OPINION about someone that person clearly isn’t going to be on my rank list.

  3. I plan on supporting Melissa Hall over Dan Strauss in the primary. Melissa can change her mind on congestion pricing. We can’t go back after making the mistake of building the Missing Link on Leary.

  4. Can you please clear up (ASAP) what you mean in this snippet about Ed Pottharst:

    “We have concerns about his work on the Phinney Neighborhood Association during its fight to stop more apartments from being built in the neighborhood.”

    Specifically,
    1. What exactly was the Phinney Neighborhood Association doing (as noted in the comments, there’s concern here that you conflated it with a different neighborhood org)?
    2. What was Ed’s involvement in the actions described in #1?
    3. When did this involvement take place?

    It’s frustrating that in your writeup you described an excellent-tier platform full of specifics, but then dropped him two levels based on some hand-wavy and exceedingly vague guilt-by-association knock that may actually be demonstrably incorrect (again, per comments).

    I haven’t decided who I’m voting for yet (and Ed is certainly in the mix), but this writeup is making me seriously uneasy about your recommendations. I understand that there are an absurd number of candidates in the district and that it takes time and energy to be thorough, but if you present yourself as an authority, you need to maintain a higher bar on this…

    1. I would like to know also. I volunteered for Phinney Neighborhoid Association for 8 years as a dishwasher. In my younger years, of course. PNA spent a lot of money around 2002-2006 to help 2 churches upgrade their kitchens so they could serve more free meals. Three meals a week between 2 locations. They obviously care about people. I have donated to PNA in the past also. I have not been involved since 2010, but I know their presence is positive.

  5. Decent score on Heidi Wills, but I think there are some places where density can go with minimal opposition. .5 miles of a transit hub seems doable in this political climate. Wills is a very good moderate on all but one of my pet issues – namely public comment trolling.

    With Sergio’s platform, I do not want Sergio Garcia if at all possible. Thanks.

  6. Why the heck is Wills such a nightmare to you people?

    For the love of G*d, UofW Pass cleared the way to recruiting transit fans!

    Heidi Wills = City Councilwoman Jessyn Farrell, period. Quite possibly the next Sound Transit Boardmember also, and don’t you want someone from Ballard on the Sound Transit Board and not someone who is weak sauce?

    Furthermore, the Seattle City Council has enough candidates for tough guy award: Councilwoman Lorena Gonzalez (next Seattle City Council President), Ari Hoffman (who is 90% likely to win for the 90% of working people & small business) and Ann Davison Sattler (who Saul Spady has predicted a win!). We need more than Sergio “Ari Hoffman, Ballard Edition” Garcia folks…

    Heidi Wills is a great environmentalist, a great cyclist, a good conversationalist and deserves a second chance. I’m sad so many of you haven’t learnt the lesson of 2017 Seattle Mayor: Do NOT go for the far left, go for pro-transit electability against the car candidate with a big, juicy Tim Eyman kiss on the cheek.

    1. As an actual D6 voter, there are several non-transit reasons why I will not vote for Wills unless she ends up in a runoff with Garcia, but since this is “Seattle TRANSIT Blog,” I’ll focus on these two:

      1) She gives different answers to different groups. Watch the 36th District Democrats endorsement interview, and she gives a thoughtful answer about ADUs, and how to build support for them. Read her Facebook account after the actual ADU ordinance passed, and she expresses concerns about them, and talks about how many people she’s talked with are concerned. Where does she really stand? We don’t know!
      2) The “Ballard High Line” that she’s been pushing is a classic bad faith troll that’s meant to kill the Missing Link and replace it with nothing. It’s even worse than promoting Leary. She knows that the thing will never get built, but it might peel enough support from the shovel ready Shilshole design to kill it. What will she do if one of the elevated Link designs that the businesses oppose gets chosen? This is a preview.

      I don’t want a “cyclist” for City Council. A lot of the red sign people who killed 35th were allegedly “cyclists.” I’d rather have a non-cyclist who has principles and doesn’t compromise on safety than a cyclist who doesn’t think we need bike infrastructure. I don’t know if the latter is Wills, but she clearly has the eat of those types.

      1. She’d be representing the 6th District and the major issue at this time is the missing link. She is clearly behind SBS&G and others that want to kill it. It’s shovel ready and needs to be completed now. An elevated solution is laughable and clearly doesn’t meet the project goals. That’s a huge red flag for future projects.

        Also, she has a history of taking money and support from questionable people. (strippergate).

        I’m going with Hall.

      2. I should have disambiguated that last comment about an “elevated Link design” — I was referring to Link Light Rail, not the Missing Link.

    2. The goal should not be to cynically corral voters by moving to the center, it should be building a campaign and movement that working people can believe in, one that includes high quality public transit and facilities for all modes. Saying that Cary Moon or Nikkita Oliver led to Jenny Durkan by their sheer presence is ridiculous on face.

      1. STB endorsed Farrell, who had been a legislator. The Stranger endorsed Moon, a winner of the Stranger Genius award, but no legislative experience. Oliver, who just missed the runoff, also had no legislative experience . Farrell arguably was the best bet to take on Durkan (who also had no legislative experience).

  7. Hi Jeremy, thank you for offering your thinking about candidates in the D6 race. You have a lot of great candidate choices. I want to weigh in with my opinion on ADUs. I favor them for a lot of good reasons (as I discussed in my endorsement interview with the 36th District Democrats, as you noted.) My FB posts along the campaign trail are meant to showcase the residents of D6 and their opinions. The wide variety of opinions that I am hearing and relaying on my FB posts do not necessarily reflect my views. My opinions are enumerated on my issues page on my campaign’s website. Thanks for being so active and engaged on these issues.

  8. Hello Seattle Transit Blog,

    I just read your post about the D6 candidates.

    About me, it says that “We have concerns about his work on the Phinney Neighborhood Association during its fight to stop more apartments from being built in the neighborhood.”

    I am completely baffled by this statement. I did serve on the board of the Phinney Neighborhood Association some years ago. However, to my knowledge, neither the board nor the PNA was ever involved in an effort to stop apartment buildings from being built in the neighborhood. Had I known of such an effort, I certainly would not have supported it.

    Can you please explain what the basis for the STB comment is?

    Thank you,

    Ed Pottharst

  9. Hello Seattle Transit Blog,

    From looking at the other comments on the D6 rating, it appears that you may have gotten the Phinney Neighborhood Association mixed up with the Phinney Ridge Community Council. They are completely separate groups. I was involved only with the PNA.

    I strongly urge you immediately to correct your statement about me and to revise your rating of me. I believe that I would merit among the highest ratings of D6 candidates.

    This correction would provide your readers with accurate information about my candidacy and positions on issues ahead of tomorrow’s primary election.

    I am extremely disappointed that care was not taken to check facts in your earlier post.

    Best regards,

    Ed Pottharst
    Candidate for D6

  10. Sergio Garcia is getting about 15%. Pedestrians beware in Ballard! One out of seven of the drivers of cars there want to run you down.

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