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District 6 Endorsement: Dan Strauss

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Seattle City Council Districts map.District 6 should have been an easy call if not for the damn Ballard Missing Link. Dan Strauss says all the right things about biking policy except for the Missing Link. But that’s a big one.

He has his own idea for how the trail could go partially along the rail line as planned and partially on Leary, and he seems determined to push for that despite overwhelming support for the city’s planned, designed and funded route currently tied up in the courts. Almost nobody in Seattle wants to reopen the Missing Link process and argue about it all over again. Over the past two decades, generations of Seattleites have argued about everything there is to argue about, and then some. We just need to build the compromise design we have and move on to other needs.

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I know a lot of you can’t imagine voting for someone who, after decades of arguing over every inch of this trail, won’t support the city’s plans to complete it. I don’t blame you.

Unfortunately, his opponent Heidi Wills doesn’t have a good position on the Missing Link, either. She continues to talk about building an extraordinarily expensive and impractical elevated trail. Sure, at first it sounds fun and all to be up high, but the idea immediately falls apart under any scrutiny. It would cost tens of millions of dollars that A: We don’t have budgeted and B: If we were to find would be better spent on other vital bike network gaps with real life barriers to overcome (like waterways, busy rail lines or freeways). Spending that much money to get over a barrier that is purely political makes no sense. Really, an elevated trail is a distraction that would never happen. It’s an excuse to continue failing to complete this gap and make the area safe for biking and walking.

Wills says she supports dedicated bike lanes generally and talks a big game about walking safety.

But beyond all that, Wills already lost this job once following a corruption scandal. I am surprised she has made it this far, since I don’t see how people are so quick to trust her after that. She had her chance on Council, and I don’t see any particularly convincing evidence that she has gone above and beyond to earn another one.

If you somehow manage to ignore the Missing Link, Strauss is great on transportation. He also has had a scary personal experience that informs his strong support for protected bike lanes, as he writes on his campaign website (PDF):

“I know as well as anyone the importance of a connected network of protected bike lanes – I was once hit by a driver and nearly killed while cycling. Cycling in traffic – and even in bike lanes without protective barriers – is intimidating to all but the most experienced cyclists and is unsafe for everyone, including drivers. Creating separate, protected lanes increases ridership – the Second Ave bike lane saw over 4 times as many riders after it was upgraded to a protected lane – and makes biking for work and recreation a viable option for many more Seattleites.”

I take Strauss at his word on this. Unfortunately, that means I also have to take him on his word about the Missing Link. Given the options, I think Strauss is still the best choice. And at least in theory, the Missing Link shouldn’t need to go to the Council again. And even if Strauss really wants to stop it, he would need to convince a majority of the Council to side with him. Of course that’s not impossible, but it’s a pretty tall order.

Washington Bikes did not endorse either candidate in this race. Seattle Subway (PDF), the Urbanist and the Transit Riders Union endorsed Strauss.

So elect Strauss.

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18 responses to “District 6 Endorsement: Dan Strauss”

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  3. Multimodal

    Don’t kid yourself. The missing link will get scrapped because of these two and their devotion to groups outside this district like MLK Labor. They can careless about residents.

    I’m writing Mike O’Brien.

    1. Southeasterner

      Funny I was about to suggest the same thing. I can’t bring myself to voting for two candidates who are willing to ignore what a large majority of their district want, what voters approved (MOVE Seattle), what SDOT backed, and that has gone through 20+ years of jumping through legal hurdles to finally make it to construction. They are willing to throw out $30 million in studies and work to win a few votes from two businesses on Shilshole who only care about parking.

      Unless one of them grows a spine and stands up to Ballard Sand & Gravel and Ballard Oil I have no confidence in their future ability to stand up to any business or special interest. Wills in particular seems to have had trouble with that in the past.

      For now I’m also writing in Mike O’Brien.

      1. Patrick

        Well, one of these candidates has corporate PACs running ads in their favor with grainy unflattering pictures of Mike O’Brien saying that we need a change (that would be Heidi Wills) and one doesn’t.

        Protest votes might make you feel good, but sometimes holding your nose and voting for the imperfect but less bad choice prevents the most real world harm.

  4. Ballard Biker

    Ignoring his comments on the Missing Link, Strauss is by far the better candidate, especially on bikes. I would like to think that his comments on the Missing Link are either misguided or just political talk. Even if he is serious about putting the Missing Link on Leary, I think he’ll find that the current momentum is already too much to stop (yeah, I know the Seattle Process™ can stop just about anything).

    Regardless, as misguided as his views on the Missing Link are, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

    As Tom noted, Willis is a documented, corrupt politician. She’s also currently receiving a large inflow of out-of-city PAC funding, including support by the shady “Moms for Seattle” PAC.. She is also kowtowing to the Safe Seattle and Next Door pearl-clutching crowd, who literally shout down every solution to the homeless, mental and drug issues we are facing.

    I don’t think Heidi is a bad person, I just think she’s a politician that wants back in and she’s filling whatever role is needed to run for Seattle Council District 6.

    1. kDavid

      | “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”

      Came here to say this. And: Wills has money from out of state and PACs at a rate of 10:1 over Strauss*. How do you suppose Wills will vote when that bill comes due? Right. Vote Strauss.
      (*source: Washington Public Disclosure Commission – https://www.pdc.wa.gov/browse/campaign-explorer )

  5. Haley

    Josh Brower, the lawyer fighting against the missing link, contributed the maximum contribution to Dan Strauss’s campaign. To me that clearly states which candidate he feels will do their best at blocking it. Heidi has my vote.

    1. Ballard Biker

      Do you have a source for that?

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        You can find campaign contributions here: http://web6.seattle.gov/ethics/elections/lists.aspx?cycle=2019 Tracking PAC money is a bit more complicated.

        From a quick glance, looks like Brower contributed $250 but then it was refunded maybe? I’m not sure. I saw Missing Link opponents on both lists, FWIW. That pretty much sums up this frustrating race. I haven’t added them up to see who has more (that would be pretty hard to do since I don’t know every Missing Link opponent).

      2. kDavid

        PAC money can be found here, looking under “Independent Expenditures”

      3. Ballard Biker

        Those are both great links, thanks Tom and kDavid.

        I was aware of the PAC disclosure site, but not the individual contribution site.

  6. AW

    I too believe that Strauss is the better candidate but just can’t bring myself to filling in the bubble for him. Someone dropped off a flyer supporting Wills and it listed the top campaign contributors – they were Amazon, real estate professionals, – all big business. I did have an actual conversation with Strauss who came to my door and although he knew that bicycling was my top issue, he did not volunteer his position on the missing link. However I felt we aligned on just about everything else. It’s tough.

  7. Rich

    I went to a district 6 candidate forum recently. I was impressed with how respectful, even friendly, Heidi and Dan were with each other. Heidi said an interesting thing. District 6 council is not the most important issue on the ballot. That would be I-976. So vote no on I-976, and make your best choice on district 6.

  8. Adam

    Sigh. Passed Heidi Wills supporters holding signs next to the Fremont bridge this morning, yelling at cyclists on the sidewalk to get in the bike lane :/

    1. I’m a volunteer with Heidi’s campaign. I was waving signs at the Fremont Bridge, Adam on that day from beginning to end. I can tell you that did not happen. (Tom, I’m from st. louis, too. What high school did you go to ; )?

  9. Jim Walseth

    Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread. I am as deeply dissatisfied as anyone about Strauss’ position on the missing link. Perhaps he can be educated. I am a little surprised Wills doesn’t announce her support for the current route and scoop up voters like me.

  10. Alex

    I grew up in Fremont and rode my bike to Ballard weekly to Sunset Bowl to play video games LONG before there was any safe route for bicyclists, let alone kid bicyclists. However, the missing Ballard Burke Gilman Trail link as planned is flat out wrong. Sorry, Ballard industry was there first and is what makes Ballard Ballard. the link needs to be moved and the small minded arrogant nouveau riche bicyclists can just deal with it and stop acting so selfish.

    Alex from Fremont

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