Though transportation is always an important issue in local elections, Seattle has passed a lot of major funding initiatives on the city, regional and statewide levels in recent years. With such major votes finally in the rearview mirror, other issues are likely to get more attention this time around.
But while it’s unlikely the next Seattle mayor and City Council member will be tasked with drafting and passing a major transportation investment bill in the near future, it will be their jobs to make sure the city delivers what the voters were promised.
The top mayoral and City Council Position 8 candidates will debate transportation and housing Thursday during the Growing Seattle Forum on Transportation and Housing organized by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and a long list of supporting organizations (including Seattle Bike Blog, though I have not done much more than attend an organizing meeting). The forum starts at 5 p.m. at the Impact HUB in Pioneer Square. Erica C. Barnett of The C Is for Crank will moderate. It’s free, but you have to RSVP online to reserve a spot since it will likely fill up.
Passing good transportation funding measures is hard, but delivering on those promises is even harder. That means providing the political leadership needed to put the city’s Bicycle Master Plan on track, including difficult missing sections downtown. It means working with Sound Transit to make sure biking and walking access to stations is a major priority (like on Rainer Ave at Mt Baker and Judkins Park Stations). And it means supporting needed protected bike lanes and dedicated transit lanes even when there is pushback.
But perhaps more urgently, the next mayor and councilmember must be ready to take effective action to address our city’s housing shortage and prevent displacement of low-income residents who may not be able to afford another place to live in our city. Because while the city improves street safety and grows its network of affordable transportation options, we can’t also be pushing out people who could benefit most. Transportation is among the biggest hidden housing costs, and a strong city leader must have a clear vision about how these issues intersect.
More details from the event page:
Seattle is the fastest growing city in the nation, presenting both opportunities and challenges. How will Seattle’s next mayor and the city councilmember from district 8 lead Seattle through this time of growth and change? How will they solve our transportation and housing challenges as we experience this rapid growth? How do they see transportation, land use, and housing as being connected? How will our new leaders ensure all Seattleites have the ability to walk, bike, and take transit to where they need to go? What strategies will they implement to make living in Seattle’s beloved neighborhoods affordable to all? What does equity mean in the context of transportation and land-use decisionmaking?
These are the types of themes that will be explored at our Growing Seattle Forum for the 2017 Seattle Mayoral race and City Council District 8 race!