There are elections where you vote for someone you believe in, and there are elections where you vote against someone you think would be harmful. Both are true in this race.
Shaun Scott does not shy away from big ideas. He is not afraid of making bold changes. His ideas for Seattle’s Green New Deal are appropriately and necessarily big. He’s not going to spit B.S. at you and pretend that adding some electric car chargers is going to solve climate change. He’s going to talk about how to build a ton of affordable housing near improved transit service. He’s going to talk about completing the Bicycle Master Plan even when it gets politically difficult. And he’s going to talk about not just how our city’s carbon emissions are bad for the climate, but how the pollution from burning those fossil fuels disproportionately impacts the health of working people and communities of color.
But it’s not just his ideas that are exciting. Scott has also inspired a movement. He maxed out on the city’s democracy voucher system in record time, almost making a joke of the program’s limits. He encouraged his campaign staff to unionize, which is extremely rare even in union-friendly Seattle. And his staff and a ton of volunteers have been putting in huge amount of time tabling, knocking on doors and in many ways innovating what a political ground game looks like in Seattle’s still-new Council district system.
His campaign is rewriting Seattle’s election rules and creating a new path to power. It would be a good thing for the city if they are successful because their model of organizing is truly grassroots and based on optimistic energy that, frankly, most other Council campaigns are lacking. Scott makes me feel like our city really can do what it takes to become the affordable, equitable and sustainable city I believe it can be.
His opponent, Alex Pedersen, fought against light rail. That’s right, he opposed the 2016 levy to fund a major expansion of Sound Transit light rail. Worse, he still stands by his opposition to the levy. And now he wants to represent this district while two of its three light rail stations begin service? No way. We need big changes to accompany these new stations with strong priority for walking, bike and bus access and more nearby affordable housing. And Pedersen has shown that he’s not the person to do that job.
His transportation and climate plan includes subsidizing Uber rides and requiring car parking both on public streets and in new buildings (which dramatically increases the cost of those buildings and makes the new units more expensive). Our top greenhouse gas emission source is from transportation, traffic is terrible because there are already too many people driving and people cannot afford homes in our city, yes his solution to these problems is more cars. This is irresponsible.
Pedersen also fought against the 2015 Move Seattle Levy to fund vital street maintenance, street safety and transit efficiency work across our city, including work to improve light rail station access. He thinks the new dangerous 35th Ave NE design was a good outcome despite that neighbors on bikes now feel terrified of their main commercial street. He is the biggest threat to bike safety in any of the Council races.
(CORRECTION: Pedersen called to clarify that he did not oppose the $15 minimum wage effort as previously noted here. I have checked my notes and can’t find where I read that, so I may have confused myself. I regret the error and strive to do better).
Basically, if it was bold, Pedersen opposed it and will continue doing so if elected. Sure, he has a B.S. excuse for all his unpopular stances of the past, but his stances tell you the real story, not his excuses.
A single City Council seat can only do so much to craft new laws. You need a solid block of councilmembers to get big ideas through. Scott will be part of that progressive block, and Pedersen won’t. But while it is difficult for a single councilmember to create a new law, they can be very effective at muddying, delaying or even killing other people’s bold ideas. That’s why Pedersen would be so dangerous on Council.
Seattle’s status quo is drowning working people, polluting the planet, killing people in traffic and displacing communities of color. Scott wants to change the status quo. Pedersen doesn’t. So vote Scott.
(Full disclosure: My house, a backyard cottage like the ones Pedersen has opposed (UPDATE: Pedersen said he favors more backyard cottages, but wanted to retain the owner occupancy requirement that the Council removed because it limits backyard cottage production), recently hosted a fundraiser for Scott, something we’ve never done before. I wasn’t actually there because I had to go back to St. Louis for a funeral, but I supported my spouse Kelli in her effort.)