District 7 includes downtown, Queen Anne, and Magnolia. Though there’s higher population density in downtown and Belltown, the more suburban enclaves tend to punch above their weight in off-year elections. This may explain why many candidates in this district appear skeptical of density and in favor of an expensive Magnolia Bridge replacement.

Excellent

Michael George

Michael George is a professional transportation and housing planner who has been involved in planning Link, RapidRide, and every ST TOD project. He is the only D7 candidate who supports congestion pricing, red light cameras, and the streetcar. However, like most candidates he supports replacing the Magnolia Bridge and is less than full-throated in supporting duplexes and triplexes in single-family zones.

Good

Naveed Jamali‘s transportation platform reads almost like an STB blog post (except for the opposition to red light cams). He upbraids the City on taking away funding for pedestrian and bike infrastructure improvements. While he has a great platform and an admirable record of military service, we’d like to see a longer record in local politics or policy chops on local issues.

Fair

Jason Williams supports congestion pricing and the Center City Connector, but not traffic enforcement cameras. He has some good ideas, but is relatively inexperienced in the political sphere.

Former Interim Police Chief Jim Pugel is in favor of “strategic” upzones, whatever that means. He is generally in favor of increasing transit and reducing car traffic. He has little to say on bikes ROW and the climate crisis. For a former peace officer concerned about public safety, he has surprisingly little to say about Vision Zero.

Andrew Lewis has done his homework on plans for public affordable housing. His transportation plan champions a western/tunnel approach for Ballard Link, connector bus routes to RapidRide and eventually Link, and an equivalent replacement of the Magnolia Bridge. Like his former employer Nick Licata, Lewis is also an opponent of the Center City Connector. Missing from his platform are acknowledgements of bikes as a mode and the climate crisis.

You have to dig a little, but James Donaldson says good things about the importance of bike and pedestrian amenities when rebuilding bridges (e.g. the Magnolia Bridge). Missing: housing production and climate action plans.

Gene Burrus: “When it comes to housing affordability, you cannot repeal basic laws of supply and demand.” Ah, yes. But then his transportation platform is a screed against taking away traffic lanes in general and the 2nd Ave PBL in particular.

Poor

Isabelle Kerner, Daniela Lipscomb-Eng, and Don Harper are all pro-car, against multifamily housing, or some combination of the two.

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

28 Replies to “Seattle District 7 candidate ratings”

  1. You may want to better distinguish between the different types of traffic enforcement cameras. Photo enforcement of transit lanes would be great, but practical impacts of red light cameras are very questionable.

  2. Replacing the Magnolia bridge with nothing would be a major blow to riders of the 19/24/33. The other two routes off Magnolia would be traffic jams, which would also ruin the 31.

    The cost is too high, but if we are ok with not building that bridge when are we ok spending money on bridges? Ballard is going to need a new or rebuilt bridge soon and it is also a “rich” neighborhood with lots of SOV drivers.

    1. I’m not taking an opinion on the Magnolia bridge – I don’t know enough about it – but it seems very different than the Ballard bridge. Magnolia is a cul-de-sac. Its bridge really is just for Magnolia. The Ballard bridge is a major connector of north and south Seattle and is a major piece of Seattle’s infrastructure. It’s not just for Ballard. Similarly, the 520 bridge isn’t just for Montlake.

    2. This reminds me of the SR 99 tunnel debate. No one is saying we should replace the Magnolia Bridge with nothing. But lots of people are saying that it is crazy to replace it with an identical (very expensive) bridge. The city has proposed a new bridge around Armory Way (see image on this article: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/seattles-magnolia-bridge-is-about-worn-out-but-city-says-it-cant-afford-a-replacement/). This would be much cheaper.

      In general this district has a very weak set of candidates, and the handling of the bridge issue is a great example. You can’t say that you are for more police and more money to address the homeless problems (both laudable goals) while also saying you are willing to spend $400 million on a new bridge. What they should do is add the new bridge over Armory, with two lanes. Then make one of the two lanes on Dravus be bus-only. Send all the buses over that bridge. At first the buses would head downtown and to the U-District, but eventually just to the U-District (when Link gets to Interbay). That kind of vision is lacking from the district, and pie-in-the-sky promises of a brand new Magnolia bridge won’t help matters in the least.

      1. The Armory Way version would require a left hand turn, creating an instant bottleneck on 15th Ave. The biggest thing by far that people want preserved is the right hand turn to the overpass with the current Bridge. After that you can frankly connect the road to Magnolia however you want.

        For some reason the city doesn’t see to be coordinating with the Port who is considering doing a major redevelopment on the land there which would require improved road access (not to be confused with the former Armory land). Version 3 with the addition of road improvements to 20/21st or a smaller bridge to 23rd (higher up the hill) would be the best design and possibly make the Port pay for a portion of it, making it even cheaper.

      2. “The Armory Way version would require a left hand turn”

        Not necessarily. I’ve seen proposals that would send folks right on Gilman then right again on an overpass.

      3. Any new bridge would have an overpass over 15th, just like every other bridge to Magnolia. Otherwise, cars going to Magnolia would have to wait for a very long light cycle (like the one at Gilman). That would greatly limit the number of cars over the bridge, severely reducing the value of the project.

        I think it is likely that it would be topologically like the existing Magnolia Bridge (unlike the other two bridges). You would have an overpass from northbound 15th to Magnolia. Heading southbound on 15th is easy as well (a simple ramp). From Magnolia southbound is no problem, but Magnolia northbound on 15th would either be banned, or require a long light cycle (like it is for the existing Magnolia Bridge). This last group of riders (from Magnolia to northbound 15th) have it worse than those on Dravus or those on Emerson, but they would simply choose one of the other bridges (since they are heading north). An overpass like that greatly simplifies things, in that you only need one big ramp (northbound 15th to Magnolia) and the cars would not be impeded by other cars.

        Even with ramps and an overpass, it would be hundreds of millions of dollars cheaper than rebuilding the existing Magnolia Bridge. That thing is gigantic, which is why the rebuild cost is so high. Candidates promising to rebuild the thing are just not being realistic. They should level with folks and explain how it would have the same basic throughput, but not the grand sweeping vistas, or the California style connection from the boulevard to 15th. Like the viaduct, those days are over.

  3. As a resident of the district, no way in hell am I voting for someone who has worked on rapidride and link…

      1. It wasn’t perfect in every aspect from the start, wasn’t fast enough, didn’t phase through cars, and wasn’t 500 million under budget.

      2. It’s not rapid and it’s not dependable even with cars banned from third ave.it’s popular which is good I guess. But that just means they are packed.

    1. If you exclude everyone who has worked on RapidRide or Link you’d exclude a lot of good people who may have wanted to do the same things as you but didn’t have the authority to implement them or were overridden.

      1. I do think it requires a followup. It is great to be part of an important team, but when the team has made big mistakes, you have to ask them what their involvement was. For example, maybe you worked for the State Department under Hillary Clinton, and were involved with the actions that lead to deposing Qaddafi. Were you pushing for his removal, or where you saying we should be careful, as it could unearth worse sectarian violence, and give Boko Haram more power? Even if history proved you wrong (and you did support his ouster) can you justify your acts based on the fear that he would have committed genocide, or did you simply ignore those who said that the devil we know is better than a long, drawn out civil war (that continues to this day)? In other words, did you know it was a calculated risk, or did it surprise you that things are worse than when the dictator was in power?

        Obviously the operations of Sound Transit and Metro aren’t nearly as complex (or as horrible), but they have made numerous mistakes. Simply assuming that someone who has been part of that team would be better at handling similar issues is like assuming that the CEO of a failed company is a solid choice to head yours. To put it in sporting terms — you may have been part of the Knicks, but it wasn’t like you were part of the Spurs. If anything, the former might be a reason *not* to hire you.

      2. I don’t think it’s fair to analogize ST or RapidRide to the Knicks. Whether you agree with all their policies or implementations, they actually move a huge number of people in the region, keeping them off the road. The Knicks accomplish nothing.

  4. I really wish the endorsement explained transit issues. Other transportation issues are important, but the lack of much discussion appears to suggest that transit is not very important to the panel.

    In particular, I see the generic endorsement of right-turn-on-red as very problematic. If a car is turning right while in a BAT lane, don’t you want buses to move faster by getting it out of the way? Implementing a law like this would surely slow buses; I don’t want that!

    To ask candidates to endorse blanket laws to apply everywhere is being unfair to them and doesn’t represent the rational concept of professional study. I prefer rational study over dogmatic laws.

    I must admit that the lack of transit-focused justifications in many of these endorsements make them mostly worthless in my eyes. There are so many issues that should be primary to transit supporters — from transit stop lighting to bus stop and walking path maintenance to advancing station area plans at future Link stations.

    1. Since the 7th is primarily single family houses the best you can really expect is to get someone who isn’t virulently against mass transit. I would never expect any candidate from that district to be very forward looking. Better to look for someone who just won’t get in the way.

      Maybe once ST3 is up and actually running they’ll be a vested interest in seeing that light rail connects to more places. More so if they build that residential district on the former Armory land.

      1. I did a rough review of populations in District 7. It appears that about half of the population is south of Mercer/John Street. The area may look like single-family, but the population isn’t.

  5. I wouldn’t describe Belltown as a single family neighborhood. Mass transit is very much on residents’ minds but over the last twenty years it’s been loss after loss. No more 99, buses gone from 1st to 3rd, no Western on-ramp to Highway 99. But public safety this time ranks first in our priorities and we have voted for Jim Pugel.

    1. Well said. Belltown has been slowly getting screwed by metro for the 18 years I have been here . Meanwhile… St keeps mailing me propaganda that link is coming. They clearly have too much money.

      1. You appear to have a deep seeded hatred of transit agencies, so thought it would be a good idea to visit a transit blog to air your unrealistic and irrational outlooks on these transit agencies. Smart!

  6. As someone who lives downtown, I don’t understand why that’s in the same district as Magnolia. Is there some historical reason for this? It seems like people living in downtown + Belltown would have very different priorities than residents in Magnolia when it comes to local government issues.

    1. It was pretty much arbitrary. Not too long ago, every voter voted for every candidate. This was better, in my opinion, in that several good candidates from one district could hold office. In any event, when the folks drew the map, they were drawn geographically — but each district has the same number of people. Magnolia and Queen Anne were included with downtown. It is reasonable when you look at a map.

      They could have shifted it around a bit, certainly. Magnolia could be part of District 6, which would basically cause a counter clockwise shift. District 5 would eat into 6, 4 would eat into 5, and so on. That might be better, but I’m not so sure. The basic problem is that no one is actually trying to represent Lower Queen and Belltown, despite the fact it represents a good part of the district. I think in this case it simply goes back to what I said in the first place. By chopping up the city into districts, you limit the number of available candidates, which means that some districts have lots of good candidates, and others don’t.

      1. I wouldn’t say it’s arbitrary; West Seattle and even SE Seattle are rather separated from other parts of the city and each has about 1/7 of the population so splitting them differently seems inappropriate. The Ship Canal is another natural barrier. If the two districts mainly below the Ship Canal (District 3 and District 7) were split with one for Downtown and Capitol Hill and one for the rest, it would appear odd to have the outer district from Magnolia to Leschi, so the current District 7 seems the most appropriate. Otherwise, we would have multiple districts straddling the Ship Canal.

    2. The people who spearheaded switching to a district-based system were trying to slow growth and density, so they drew the districts to minimize the percent of multifamily voters in each district. The funny thing is, even those districts were more pro-urban than expected the first term, showing that many single-family homeowners are sympathetic to the need for smart growth. This election will show whether that was a fluke or a longer-term trend.

      1. Mike, I’m completely inclined to believe the above — that some folks in power basically gerrymandered the multifamily vote — can you post a link? Thanks

Comments are closed.