Here are STB’s endorsements for the November 2nd general election. As always, these picks are meant to reflect solely the performance and positions on issues covered by this blog, not by their broader political philosophy, progressive or otherwise.
While many state legislative races are happening this year, there are typically only a few candidates that make a real, positive difference on transit and land use.
STB’s editorial board consists of Martin H. Duke, Adam Parast, Sherwin Lee, and John Jensen, with valued input from the rest of the staff.
Patty Murray (U.S. Senate), who as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is well-positioned to deliver competitive federal transit dollars to Washington, a capability she has frequently demonstrated. She is one of the few central figures in getting Link built, and deserves to continue to help make our local tax dollars go farther.
Initiative 1053: NO. This year’s Eyman entry would require a two-thirds majority in the legislature to raise any tax. While our layman’s reading is that this wouldn’t actually affect delegation of taxing authority to transit agencies and such, the State does directly fund HOV and intercity rail projects that we support. Any reduction in sales tax exemptions puts money in the pockets of transit agencies. Moreover, we strongly support increased gas taxes, and especially elimination of the sales tax exemption for gasoline. While these are politically out of reach for the moment, with Initiative 1053 they become forever impossible.
Initiative 1107: NO. Sales tax exemptions affect not only state revenue, but all governments and agencies that use sales tax. Repealing the tax on candy and bottled water would cost, by our rough estimate, Metro $3m a year each in 2012 and 2013, and Sound Transit somewhat more than that. That amounts to roughly 24,000 service hours a year.
Charlie Wiggins (Supreme Court Position 6). His opponent, Richard Sanders, sided with the “Sane Transit” people in an early attempt to kill Sound Transit and wrote a dissent that would have hurt ST’s bond rating with I-776. In both cases, he was skewered by the majority, perhaps showing poor legal reasoning. Sanders has also been on the wrong side of Sound Transit in an eminent domain case.
More below the jump…
Bellingham Proposition 1: YES. In the wake of Whatcom Transit Authority’s ballot failure earlier this year, the City of Bellingham approved a Transportation Benefit District and put a 0.2% sales tax increase on November’s ballot. The measure will raise about $4m for street paving, restored Sunday bus service, and bike/ped improvements. More transit and non-motorized funding reduces car dependence, and WTA has innovative projects that deserve public support. Vote yes.
Marko Liias (21st District, Edmonds) was the champion of the transit funding bill that died in the Senate in 2010. Together with Simpson, he is one of the two best pro-transit legislators in Olympia at the moment.
Chris Reykdal (22nd District, Olympia) is unusual in not only supporting more transit investment, but also understanding that more highways work directly against the objectives of that investment. His relevant positions include “uphold the core values of the Growth Management Act – focus on urban density to avoid rural sprawl”, “adopt constitutional and statutory changes that permit gasoline taxes to be used more flexibly,” and “move our focus away from increasing highway capacity and towards more sustainable public transportation options.” That’s a slam dunk.
Jake Fey (27th District, Tacoma) is a Tacoma City Councilmember and serves on the Sound Transit board. Over 6 years of service in Tacoma, he has advocated for mixed-use transit-oriented centers, Complete Streets, and the Bike/Ped Plan. Olympia needs more representatives that understand urban land use and transportation issues, as well as the issues facing Sound Transit. If that weren’t enough, he’s been endorsed by 27th District resident and Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl.
Joe Fitzgibbon (34th District, West Seattle/Burien). His primary governmental experience is as legislative aide to outgoing Representative and Senatorial candidate Sharon Nelson, one of the few legislators to understand transit and land use issues. Fitzgibbon has won her endorsement. On his website he has the most explicitly pro-transit, pro-rail platform in any race: he is for extending Sound Transit’s taxing authority to accelerate an ST3 vote, the right position on the single most important issue in the legislature for rail activists. He also wants to extend taxing authority for other transit agencies.
Geoff Simpson (47th District, Covington) has for years been the most reliably good legislator. The correctness of his positions is all the more astounding given his rural/exurban district.