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Endorsement: Cary Moon for Mayor

If you are registered to vote in King County, your ballot is in the mail. New voters have until October 30 to register in-person. Ballots are due November 7. See this story for more election coverage, including the WA Bikes endorsements.

Photo from Cary Moon for Mayor.

Cary Moon has a bold vision for a more affordable Seattle that is easier and safer to get around by walking, biking and taking transit.

And while her transportation platform is among the most ambitious in recent Seattle history, it is also grounded in reality. She’s a professional urban planner, and she has a strong understanding of what other cities around the world have successfully accomplished and what can work in Seattle.

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When Moon believes in an idea, she doesn’t mince words about her support for it. Protected bike lanes downtown (specifically, lanes on 4th Ave, 7th Ave, 8th Ave, Pike St and Pine St as shown in a recent One Center City document)?

“Yes,” Moon said in response to a Seattle Bike Blog questionnaire. “I was on the One Center City advisory committee, and am committed to bold solutions that increase mobility by making walking, biking, and transit more convenient, fast, and safe downtown. More safe routes downtown, connected into a full network of protected bike lanes, is an essential part of this short term and long term solution.”

Her opponent, Jenny Durkan, has also voiced general support for downtown bike lanes (SBB asked her campaign specifically about the streets above, but they missed our deadline to respond. UPDATE 10/23: The Durkan campaign responded. See her answers at the bottom of this post.). And I think that’s important to note because, for supporters of safe streets, that’s a victory in itself. Neither mayoral candidate is campaigning against bike lanes downtown or on Rainier Ave. It is politically unviable to run an openly anti-bike mayoral campaign in Seattle, and that’s awesome.

So when figuring out which candidate will be best for transportation, you can’t just create a checklist of issues. You have to determine who will be most likely to get the work done and provide political leadership for projects in the face of pushback.

Seattle Bike Blog believes Cary Moon not only has a strong grasp of transportation issues, but she has also shown the most decisiveness in backing up her stances. That’s why Seattle Bike Blog is endorsing her.

Durkan’s answers to specific transportation questions often include a hedge the other way. Perhaps it should not be surprising for the former U.S. Attorney to “lawyer” her answers, but it also does not inspire confidence that when the time comes to make a tough political decision that she will stand up for safe streets and a connected bike network.

For example, Durkan will not commit to supporting the city’s compromise design for the Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail. After two decades of debate, studies and legal action, SDOT has finally made progress on a route compromise and has been working with stakeholders — trail supporters and businesses alike, including the businesses still taking legal action to stop it — to go inch-by-inch to make sure the trail works for everyone as best it possibly can. If legal matters wrap up on time, the trail is scheduled to break ground in May. So the next mayor will be vital in finally finishing this trail.

“I know this issue is complicated,” Durkan said in response to questions we asked in July ahead of the primary election. “We need to get this missing piece in place and I will work to do so, as quickly as possible if elected mayor.”

This answer is notably not a clear “Yes” to the city’s current effort, it just sounds sort of like “Yes.” I have tried several times to get a clarification on this answer, but her campaign has not responded. I will report back once/if I get an answer.

Moon doesn’t mince words on her support for completing the trail. Do you support the city’s preferred alternative? “Yes.” Will you work to keep the project moving forward on schedule? “Yes.”

Summary of 4,400 comments received during the city’s environmental mega study.

Seattle has too many other needs to address to keep delaying, studying and debating this one short section of trail. Essentially everyone supports finishing the trail, and almost everyone who commented during the environmental mega study supported the city’s approach.

Seattle needs a mayor who will be decisive. Create the best project or initiative you can, then do it. Our needs are growing too quickly to keep delaying and studying the same issues over and over. The Missing Link is an egregious example, but there are similar delays on a lot of different issues (housing, for example). So when you see Moon look at the evidence and make a decisive choice while Durkan is wishy-washy, that says a lot about how they will lead once elected.

During the primary, Seattle Bike Blog kinda almost endorsed Nikkita Oliver because she was the only candidate who inspired a huge, engaging grassroots movement. Moon typically had better answers to our questions, but Oliver had inspired action. Ultimately, it’s people power that gets things done in this town (well, that or tons of money). Just being “right” isn’t always enough.

Moon is going to need to build and maintain a lot of public support for her bolder ideas once in office, and that’s not as easy as it sounds. But she can do it, especially if she makes strong staff and department hires, empowers the good leaders we have who have been stymied by a lack of political backup, and develops trust with community organizations calling for bold action.

Seattle is an amazing city with enormous potential to lead the nation on innovative solutions to transportation, reducing motor vehicle pollution, and eliminating serious traffic injuries and deaths. Cary Moon is the best candidate to lead our city there.

You can take immediate action to support Moon (and Ahmed Abdi for Port Commissioner) by attending a fundraiser at Greenwood’s G&O Family Cyclery 6 p.m. Sunday.

Below is Moon’s response to a couple follow-up questions from Seattle Bike Blog. The Durkan campaign received the same questions (plus the Missing Link question, once again), but her campaign did not respond by our deadline despite SBB delaying this post to accommodate their request for more time. We will post Durkan’s responses once the campaign answers them. UPDATE 10/23: Durkan’s responses are now included below Moon’s.

Seattle Bike Blog: During the primary endorsement, free-floating bike share companies had not yet begun service. Now there are thousands of bikes operating in the city, and initial results showed that people made 120,000 trips in the first two months. As mayor, will you continue SDOT’s current pilot bike share effort and work to develop a permanent bike share permit? What role do you think the city should play to help bike share succeed in Seattle (if any)?

Moon: Yes, I would! I am intrigued and inspired by the success of free-floating bike share companies, and would work toward a permanent bike share permit. Once I look at the performance and safety, I will work with SDOT to decide if the public is better served by one, two or three competitors. To help them succeed, as mayor I will work with SDOT, King County, and bike advocacy groups to resolve the helmet issue, addressing how far Vision Zero implementation and a full network of protected bike lanes might reduce the need for the helmet law. And second, install more bike racks throughout the city to make it easier to keep sidewalks clear with a protected open pathway for visually impaired people and people who use wheelchairs etc. Third, do more training in schools to help kids who did not learn to bike at an early age develop safe skills and abilities to bike. Fourth, I will focus on making biking safer in the south end with more bike lanes, traffic calming and implementation of Vision Zero strategies so we can provide more safe routes to this growing population of riders.

SBB: As mayor, will you support the recently-announced One Center City plans for protected bike lanes on 4th Ave, 7th Ave, 8th Ave, Pike St and Pine St?

Moon: Yes. I was on the One Center City advisory committee, and am committed to bold solutions that increase mobility by making walking, biking, and transit more convenient, fast, and safe downtown. More safe routes downtown, connected into a full network of protected bike lanes, is an essential part of this short term and long term solution.

SBB: Do you bike regularly? Why or why not?

Moon: Yes. While I have not biked much during this campaign due to time constraints, I was a regular biker and will be again once my schedule is more predictable. I live downtown, and have been mostly car-free since 1994. My family and I walk, take transit, bike and use zipcars — and more recently, I can borrow my husband’s work car when needed. I would bike more if it were safer; I am not comfortable biking on some downtown streets, and only bike when I’m certain I can get where I am going on safe streets. I look forward to the completion of the waterfront bike route and other new bike lanes downtown and to Capitol Hill to expand the places I can safely bike.

UPDATE: The Durkan campaign got Seattle Bike Blog their answers to our questions, though in fairness it should be noted that they had an opportunity to read this post (and Moon’s answers) before responding.

SBB: During the primary endorsement, free-floating bike share companies had not yet begun service. Now there are thousands of bikes operating in the city, and initial results showed that people made 120,000 trips in the first two months. As mayor, will you continue SDOT’s current pilot bike share effort and work to develop a permanent bike share permit? What role do you think the city should play to help bike share succeed in Seattle (if any)?

Durkan: I am pleased with how I’ve seen the current pilot bike share efforts work in our community. I will continue to monitor the programs as we scale them. We can see an increase of young people and people of color taking advantage of these programs especially in the South End. One critical goal of the pilot phase, in my opinion, was to determine how the bike parking system functions outside of fixed stations and ensuring that private operators are adhering to bike rack rules. We must continue to monitor this as the pilot programs are expanded.

Bike share programs can be a key way to accomplish increase bike ridership in our city, if they are properly executed. Benefits include reducing traffic congestion and emissions, and our carbon footprint. They also promote and provide better fitness. Bike sharing is a practical transit option that should become an integrated part of our transportation system for commuters, other residents, and tourists. The city should encourage exploration of these programs, but should always be conscious of potential unintended consequences.

SBB: As mayor, will you support the recently-announced One Center City plans for protected bike lanes on 4th Ave, 7th Ave, 8th Ave, Pike St and Pine St?

Durkan: I support a basic bike network. A safe and connected network is essential. I will work with city departments, key partners, and stakeholders to explore how to best implement the Bicycle Master Plan and the Center City Bicycle Network to accomplish this. I am supportive of a basic bike system to make cycling safe, accessible, and low-stress, especially for beginner or casual bicyclists as quickly and meaningfully as possible.

SBB: As mayor, will you support the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link compromise route SDOT is currently designing through a stakeholder process? The latest timeline shows ground-breaking in May 2018. Will you work to keep the project on schedule?

Durkan: I am committed to finishing up the missing link on the Burke Gilman – this is an essential transportation corridor. I also recognize that this conversation has been going for more than 15 years and there has been compromises made by many stakeholders and significant progress on finding an acceptable route. I want a route that is safe, supports local retail and industrial business and cycling. The hearing examiner is currently reviewing an appeal on the EIS and I await that decision.

I am committed to getting this piece of the trail built while I am mayor.  I will have staff pay close attention the DAC process to ensure that this trail is safe, affordable and designed to function well. I want that process to work so we spend time and resources building this last link instead of in court. I am committed to working with biking advocates and stakeholders to finalize and implement the best design.

SBB: Do you bike regularly? Why or why not?

Durkan: Not as much as I’d like to. I am a recreational biker, and I enjoy biking with my family. It was hard to bike to work when my office (as US Attorney) was all of Western Washington from Canada to Oregon. But one of the things I love about Seattle is the natural beauty here woven throughout our city, and biking is a wonderful way to unlock the beauty of our city.

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18 responses to “Endorsement: Cary Moon for Mayor”

  1. Central Districtite

    Moon is the easy choice. She has experience, vision, and she clearly deeply cares. Some accuse her of being too much an idealist, but the practicalities of the office will suffice to keep her grounded.

    Durkan seems to try and tell everyone they can have their cake and eat it too. In the end, you can look at who is bankrolling her massive PAC to see who she’s going to side with when the going gets tough.

  2. Chamois Davis Jr.

    Is she a ‘professional urban planner’? As far as I have seen, her resume never listed a position in urban planning, only involvement in producing a Neighborhood Plan for Pioneer Square while working as a landscape architect.
    Most of her work has been as a community activist and a very skilled and effective one, giving communities and concerned residents a voice in the system by leading the waterfront coalition against the tunnel and serving on committees for many urban and transportation focused projects.
    I voted for her once and will do so again but this characterization of her as a professional urban planner can give her opponents ammunition to challenge her qualifications as a potential leader for the city and I for one would like to see her succeed.

  3. Ballard Resident

    I want to give Moon my democracy vouchers but just noticed they can only be used for city council or city attorney.

  4. Wells

    A question for Cary and Jenny:
    Skeptics of self-driving car tech are fed up. Please explain why totally robotic self-driving robocars isn’t idiotic. Also comment on similarly stupid robotic devices. Seriously, could self-driving car tech be more of a ruse or distraction, than a solution?
    Isn’t it at least like putting the cart before the horse? (EV first)

    1. Wells

      Tuesday 10/24 Planetizen article skeptical of self-driving tech by Todd Litman.
      Seattlers still counting on self-driving cars, it’s just another sign of how wrong transportation planners there have been for many decades.

  5. Erik J Busse

    Hard to accept and endorsement from a single issue blog. Sorry bike lanes, safety, pedestrian issues, etc. are important but there are many more important issues in the city. Only bicycle fanatics would vote with such a high emphasis on this issue. Are we to be surprised the Seattle Bike Blog endorsed the biggest bike loving candidate out there?

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      If you’re accusing Seattle Bike Blog of being focused on biking, then guilty as charged. I assume everyone here understands that’s our angle.

    2. Wells

      Moon might hire fellow obstructionist luddites questioning many or most city governance policy. Good. Don’t shortchange bicycle potential. Effective travel, transport, transit systems, sidewalk too, are less likely to function up to their potential without specific bicycle infrastructure. A major shakeup at Sdot is entirely warranted. No candidate can safely run on that fact.
      This message from (The Seattle Circulator Plan) author ADL
      (still blacklisted in Seattle)

    3. eli

      You seriously don’t think that the readership of the blog is capable of triangulating multiple data points (including Tom’s) and reaching their own conclusion?

      And you think that people shouldn’t have the priorities they do, because you don’t want them to?

      That strikes me as pretty condescending and narrow-minded.

    4. AW

      I have and will always vote for the candidate based on their support for bike infrastructure. This is the area that affects me the most and affects me directly. My life may depend on it. There is nothing wrong with making decisions based on a single issue if it is important enough.

      Thank you Tom for pulling this together.

  6. Tim Goggin

    I am an avid biker, runner, contributor, and business owner in Seattle. I’ve been commuting to work in the most dense parts of Seattle (Pioneer Square and now SLU) for over a decade. Right now we need to focus on more critical issues than bicycling. I appreciate your commentary and have been a follower of yours for years. I cannot accept your endorsement of Moon and am committed will strive harder to help the bicycling community understand that we’ve got bigger fish to fry than bike lanes.

    1. P Williams

      I find it interesting that you eschew the Bike Blog endorsement for being too focused and monochromatic and then sum up what you believe the “bicycling community” cares about with one issue, bike lanes. The cycling community is actually just the community at large narrowed down to those who also cycle and care about mobility, freedom and safety. “Bike lanes” is a catch all that some people use when they want to dismiss those concerns. I’m a cyclist and actual bike lanes are very low on my list of priorities. Actual infrastructure that allows people to move about safely and efficiently without a car dwarfs “bike lanes” I appreciate the time Tom took to put together the endorsement and appreciate even more that he keeps it focused on the issue the blog specializes in.

      1. Eli

        Bingo. For me, it’s about the ability to feel safe getting around my city on a day-to-day basis – and to have equitable access to a good quality of life, as someone doesn’t own a car.

        I can’t think of *anything* that could be more important to me than that to me, nor do I feel a twinge of guilt about that.

        Certainly, it was important enough to vote with my feet and ditch Seattle this summer. So I could certainly see why other people would consider it a major factor in who they vote for.

    2. Gordon

      Dear commenters: Y’all understand this the Seattle BIKE Blog right? Of course the angle of the endorsement is who is going to be the best for biking in Seattle. And for many people, whether or not the next mayor is going to make real progress on keeping people safe on our streets is a top issue (did you know as many Seattle people die in crashes as homicides?).

  7. Dave

    I live in southern Washington, in Clark County, so obviously I can’t vote for Ms. Moon.
    But, I wish her a landslide victory for being willing to tackle a housing inflation head-on without apology in espousing a property speculation tax. If we are to have a decent future as a state, we need a Cary Moon or a Kshama Sawant not just as a Seattle metro politician, but as governor of Washington.

    1. RossB

      If the problem really is too much outside investor money, then we are in the middle of a bubble, which should soon correct itself. If the fundamentals aren’t strong, then they will fall very quickly. On the other hand, if prices are high because we have very limited supply along with very high demand, then it doesn’t matter who owns the place. Why build that expensive apartment, if you think that people won’t pay two grand a month to live in it? Either there is a bubble, or these investors are simply taking advantage of strong economic fundamentals.

      It think it is the latter. Supply hasn’t kept up with demand, because we limit the supply. We don’t allow cheap construction (apartment conversions, backyard cottages, etc.) but only expensive construction (demolish an expensive house before building an expensive apartment). Neither candidate wants to address this issue, even though it is obvious if you walk around town. I’ve seen million dollar houses being built, where you could easily see three times as many townhouses. It doesn’t take much math to figure out that building the latter would be both more attractive to the builder, and result in more affordable housing. But the latter doesn’t happen, because it is illegal in most of the city.

  8. eddiew

    the one city center plans should be altered by mayor Durkan-Moon. they have to work for multiple modes simultaneously.

  9. RossB

    >> Ultimately, it’s people power that gets things done in this town (well, that or tons of money).

    Hmmm, have to disagree with you there. I can’t think of much in the last thirty years that has been accomplished through “people power”. I can think of plenty of things that happened via typical, old school, backroom dealings (even if the rooms weren’t smoke filled). ST3 including West Seattle rail, instead of the Central Area, for example. Or the streetcar (which no one seems to like, but is being built anyway). The Missing Link is finally going to be built, but not because the avid, biking mayor really wanted them, but because the next mayor — the one who resigned — just kept doing what any mayor would do, which is work out a compromise that will meet legal scrutiny. “The people” wanted that years ago, but that doesn’t mean that it got built any faster.

    About the only thing that “people power” does is *stop* projects. Way back when, we stopped the destruction of Pike Place Market. Now the youth jail is on hold (likely until they reduce the number of beds). The new north end police precinct is also on hold, and who knows if that will be built.

    Oh, and “the people” really want more affordable housing, and a fundamental change to the zoning to accomplish that, but when that was proposed (after months of negotiation and compromise) the mayor (not the people) killed it. There was no public vote, no marches — just a mayor killing the recommendation of his own committee. Now you have two candidates who seem to ignore this very issue, or feel that something else (like outside investors) are to blame, instead of our clearly outdated, oppressive regulations.

    If I sound cynical, it is because I am. Most cities would love to have our problems, but we can’t deal with them, and bury our heads in the sand instead. I really have no idea which mayoral candidate will actually address the biggest problem in this city (which is the very high cost of housing). I doubt either will. They will nibble around the edges, with a few million for the very poor who have the patience to wait years before getting a place,
    while everyone else who didn’t buy a home ten years ago suffers.

    Oh, and both will be about the same on bike infrastructure. Of course they will. The only difference is who can actually get things done. I have no idea, but since neither wants to address the fact that the streetcars are fundamentally stupid and dangerous, I don’t hold out a lot of hope.

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