2015 City Council endorsements

endorsements2015Before the City Council primary this year, we wrote:

the biggest mission for this primary should be to knock out the NIMBY candidates who fear change and want to put the brakes on our growing city and the multimodal streets we need to keep it moving. Only two people in each race will go on, and the best case would be for each race to have only genuinely good people running against each other to the November vote.

And for the most part, we did that. Good work, Seattle!

In case you still don’t know who to vote for, here are Seattle Bike Blog’s official endorsements for the Council races. Because I did not have the capacity to do full candidate interviews, I’m only endorsing in races where there is a clearly better choice for biking and safe streets. Endorsements are based on coverage in other media, endorsements from safe streets and trusted transportation organizations, and candidate questionnaire responses to Feet First, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and Cascade Bicycle Club. You can read some other well-thought and relevant endorsement from like Seattle Subway, Seattle Transit Blog, Publicola and Seattlish.

Position 9: City-wide

Vote for Lorena González.

While I personally know Bill Bradburd to get around by bike (and he has his own ideas for how Seattle can be more bikeable), he has not been supportive of city efforts to create safer streets and a connected network of bike routes. He is against Move Seattle and told Cascade he does not support Vision Zero: “Obviously eliminating serious injuries or fatalities is a laudable goal (if not a moral one), but I do not believe that at this point in Seattle (or human) history, it is paramount.” UPDATE 10/23: Bill called and was upset that I did not include the rest of his Vision Zero quote: “I believe that we need to be strategic and practical in order to achieve our greater societal ends (fixing transportation systems being one). And in my view, if we were to achieve Vision Zero by 2030 and the automobile continued to be our primary mode of transit, we will have failed.”

Lorena González, on the other hand, is totally on board. She has wrapped up essentially all endorsements from safe streets groups, and she described her stance on Vision Zero to the Urbanist this way:

González said there can be an “appreciable impact on preventing otherwise preventable deaths and serious injuries”. We need to aspire to the goal of Vision Zero. As an attorney, she represented people who were injured by negligent people on the road. But she recognized a limit to our ability to control other’s behavior. What the City can focus on is the design of roadways, bike infrastructure, and pedestrian infrastructure to increase safety.

Position 8: City-wide

No endorsement.

Both incumbent Tim Burgess and challenger Jon Grant express support for funding and building the Bicycle Master Plan and working to reach Vision Zero. And neither candidate has made biking or safe streets a central part of their platforms.

Cascade Bicycle Club endorsed Tim Burgess basically because he doesn’t usually go out of his way to stop bike stuff. But that’s a pretty low bar. Seattle Transit Blog gives him a stronger push, saying Burgess “may be the purest urbanist of the 47 candidates this cycle.”

Jon Grant has a tenants rights background, and his focus is pretty strongly focused on affordable housing. He pushes hard from the renters’ side of the complicated rent stabilization vs free market development debate.

I know who I am going to vote for, but my choice is for reasons that have little to do with bikes. Or at least, I haven’t done the work necessary to connect the issues. My guess is that your mind will be be made up for reasons other than bicycling or safe streets, too. Maybe I’ll dive deeper into the intersections in the debate over rent control and the fight for safe streets in a future post. But for now: No endorsement.

District 7: Downtown, First Hill, Queen Anne, Magnolia

Vote for Sally Bagshaw.

Since joining the Council, Sally has become a leader for safe streets. Plus, her opponent Deborah Zech Artis’ transportation platform seemingly consists of blaming “bike lovers” for the city not building new streets (Where should we put those new streets? She doesn’t specify). This is an easy choice.

District 6: Ballard, Fremont, Green Lake, Phinney

Vote for Mike O’Brien.

In our primary voters’ guide, we wrote simply that “Mike O’Brien is the shit.” Our opinion of the incumbent has not changed.

His opponent Catherine Weatbrook is not Mike O’Brien. That’s pretty much all you really need to know. But if you need more: She’s against 20 mph speed limits on residential streets, and she’s against completing the Ballard Missing Link.

District 5: North end

No endorsement.

Both Debora Juarez and Reverend Sandy Brown support the Move Seattle levy and express interest in building North Seattle’s missing sidewalks. In fact, sidewalks have become something of a major issue in this race, which is awesome.

Brown has taken a specific stance on how to fund the sidewalks: Creating a local improvement district. That’s a creative idea, but it’s hardly a sure thing. Juarez opposes Brown’s sidewalk-funding idea, telling Seattle Met she would rather fund sidewalks through the city budget and Move Seattle. Brown also wants city funding to help pay the sidewalk bill.

Juarez pleaded guilty to DUI in 2012 after crashing her car into a guardrail. She told the Times that she is sorry and has learned  from the experience: “I carry this wisdom with me every day.” People make mistakes, of course. And I believe in the importance of forgiveness. But DUI is a serious crime that can devastate communities. I can’t tell you how this information should sway your vote. I guess that’s a very personal choice you have to make yourself.

Publicola endorsed Brown. Seattle Transit Blog and Seattle Subway endorsed Juarez. Cascade Bicycle Club has not endorsed in this race (their candidate Halei Watkins got knocked out in the primary, their only candidate not to make it through).

District 4: NE Seattle, Wallingford

Vote for Rob Johnson (even though we also heart Michael Maddux).

The District 4 primary worked out as well as it could have. Jean Godden finally got kicked off the Council after being mostly unimpressive on transportation issues, and noted bike lane hater Tony Provine lost by a lot (take note: Hating on bike safety is a terrible election strategy). I wrote in our primary voters guide: “I’d love to see a Maddux/Johnson race going into November.”

Well, that’s what we’ve got. Johnson, who comes from the Transportation Choices Coalition, is totally on board with bike transportation and knows the issues really well. He has been endorsed by both Cascade Bicycle Club and Seattle Transit Blog.

But Michael Maddux is also all about biking and transit, and he’s got a ton of energy. It’s really hard to not endorse this guy. But Johnson’s got so much steam and has already built so many relationships around the exact issues we write about, we just simply have to endorse him.

District 3: Capitol Hill, Central District, Montlake, Madison Park

Vote for Kshama Sawant.

Kshama Sawant has changed everything. Well, to be more accurate, she would probably say that the people she represents have changed everything. Sawant has proven that with enough community-powered excitement and persistence, we can make changes that most people will tell you are politically impossible.

This is the kind of optimistic and powerful mindshift we need to make tough decisions on efficient, affordable and just transportation. And though Sawant does not put safe streets at the front of her platform, she has supported the cause every time it has come to a vote (though she fought and failed to shift much of the Move Seattle bill away from property taxes, she still voted to send the full-sized Move Seattle levy to voters).

Her opponent Pamela Banks has been very weak on safe streets and transit issues. This is a really poor stance to hold in any district, but it’s especially baffling in one of the walkiest, bikiest and transitiest parts of town.

“People aren’t going to catch transit to go to the theater and dinner—they just aren’t!” she told Erica C. Barnett. What?!?!?

She also told Barnett she doesn’t support a road diet on 23rd Ave in the Central District:

They didn’t ask us. They said, “it’s going to slow traffic, no one wants to get hit by a car,” and people in the neighborhood are like, “no one can get to us.”

This is not the kind of transportation thinking we need on the Council. Seattle Transit Blog switched their endorsement to Sawant ahead of the general election. Cascade Bicycle Club also switched their stance from “no endorsement” to Sawant.

District 2: SE Seattle, Sodo

No endorsement.

Incumbent Bruce Harrell has collected most of the endorsements in this race, including from Cascade Bicycle Club, Seattle Transit Blog and Seattle Subway. And he has become a strong voice in support of a safer Rainier Ave, including the city’s recent safety redesign. When he gets behind a cause, he can make a lot happen.

But his record on safe streets and bike lanes has been shaky (he has pushed back on school zone speed cameras and on the cost of protected bike lanes). People can evolve, of course. Maybe he just changed his mind. Or maybe it’s an election year and he’s saying what we want to hear. I honestly can’t say.

His opponent Tammy Morales got the Stranger’s endorsement after the paper endorsed Harrell in the primary. She has voiced support for a safer Rainier Ave and Vision Zero, as well. And she told Cascade she thinks it was a mistake not to launch Pronto Cycle Share in Rainier Valley. She had this to say to Cascade about the state of transportation discourse in Seattle:

Public discourse in Seattle often pits drivers against cyclists and advocates picking one side or the other. Investments in bike infrastructure benefit both cyclists and drivers; they make cyclists safer while riding, and they help drivers acknowledge that a variety of vehicle types are sharing the road.

If Bruce Harrell’s current energy in support of safe streets stays as strong as it has been this campaign, we would love to have him on the Council. But we can’t say for certain it will, so we can’t endorse in this race.

District 1: West Seattle

Vote for Shannon Braddock.

Both Shannon Braddock and Lisa Herbold are quality candidates. As in other races, candidates who argued against safe bike routes got knocked out in the primary. Hating on bike safety is not a good political strategy even in West Seattle, where biking for transportation faces some serious geographic and connectivity challenges.

We waffled between endorsing Braddock or just not endorsing in this race, but we were ultimately swayed by strong endorsements and consensus from transportation news sites and organizations we trust. Seattle Subway, Seattle Transit Blog and Cascade Bicycle Club all endorsed Braddock as the candidate with the strongest handle on transportation policy. Then there was this solid wish list for bike-related improvements Braddock wants to see in and affecting District 1, as told to Cascade Bicycle Club:

I would like to see Pronto Cycle Share available in District 1. Other infrastructure projects I’d like to see completed are: 5 way intersection at Chelan, protected bike lane for Fauntleroy SW project, completion of  trail connection between Delridge and West Seattle Bridge. Downtown Protected Bike Lanes, Parking corral in White Center. Protected Bike Lanes on Rainier Avenue. Northgate Ped/Bike Bridge.

If Braddock can make all that happen, she’d be one of the best members of the whole Council. Let’s see if she can.

And that’s it for our Seattle City Council endorsements. If you have anything to add or if you think we got a race wrong, let us know in the comments below.

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13 Responses to 2015 City Council endorsements

  1. Hutch says:

    Thanks for this. I am also on the fence between Burgess and Grant. I don’t particularly like either candidate. I think Grant has a myopic view of housing affordability and the role of the market in long-term housing stock. But Burgess is genuinely hard to trust, given how he’s flopped conveniently with the political winds in the last year. Maybe I’ll write in Roderick.

  2. Hannah johnson says:

    Michael Maddux and Rob talk a similar talk about bikes, but I’ve seen Maddux around district 4 riding a bike and never see Johnson do it.

    That’s what tipped the scales for me because I agree whole heartedly that they are both very good on the policy, but Michael lives that bike commute everyday.

  3. Breadbaker says:

    Much like Hannah Johnson, I come out of the embarrassment of riches of our choices in District 4 on the side of Michael Maddux. I simply see him as someone more able to build coalitions and help enact ordinances that will accomplish goals that are identical to those Rob Johnson also supports. I see Johnson as a nice guy who understands policy but less of a legislator. And that’s the actual job description.

  4. John S says:

    I do not live in D4, but if I did I would vote Maddux. I believe he gets these issues very well, as he does live them every day, and I agree with Breadbaker’s comment as well.

  5. Phil Jones says:

    Tom, thanks so much for your work. I love the way you’ve presented your observations, your opinions, and attributable facts in this article. You’re a good citizen, involved and articulate about our city and our environment (and much much more). This article is a great example of the work of a citizen statesman; I wish I could live up to the example you are setting!

    You are the man! :-)

  6. Richard says:

    I’m in District 4, and will also be voting Maddux. While Rob talks a good game, his championing of RTID, and bragging about this year’s aweful transportation package in Olympia (taking credit for helping negotiate it) show that his words and ability to get action that is good for bikes do not line up. Great guy, good vote, but I need someone who will be a fierce advocate, and I believe that is Maddux.

  7. ChefJoe says:

    In the CBC questionairre, is there really much difference between what Braddock wrote in essay format (while not answering the yes/nos) vs what Herbold answered the yes/no on ? Should we be concerned that Braddock wrote nothing about the Burke Gilman missing link, Westlake/Montlake bike lanes, or did not commit to building 250 miles of protected bike lanes/greenways in the next decade ?

    http://cbc-drupal-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/2015%20Endorsement%20Questionnaire%20-%20Seattle%20D1%20-%20Lisa%20Herbold.pdf
    http://cbc-drupal-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/2015%20Endorsement%20Questionnaire%20-%20Seattle%20D1%20-%20Shannon%20Braddock.pdf

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  9. Pingback: #BikeTheVote: A cycling procrastinator’s guide to Tuesday’s election | Seattle Bike Blog

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