Ballots are in the mail and the drop boxes are open. If you don’t receive your ballot or forgot to update your address, go the King County elections website to update your info or request a replacement. If you are new to town, you can register to vote online until October 25. After that, you can register in-person at an election center up until and including election day November 2. If you’re not sure about the status of your registration, you can check online. For more guidance on the election, see our compilation of 2021 general election endorsements from a number of transportation-focused groups.
— Council President M. Lorena González (Seattle) (@CMLGonzalez) September 22, 2021
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The 2015 Move Seattle levy was sold as focusing mostly on walking, biking and transit improvements, and by a landslide 17-point margin voters said, “Hell yes!” Unfortunately, we have yet to have a mayor who has been committed to the voters’ mandate. The city front-loaded the very expensive cars-and-freight-centric Lander Street Bridge in Sodo, then cut the walking, biking and transit promises. The new mayor will have a very difficult task in front of them. They will need to find ways to win back voter trust in the Department of Transportation by delivering on promises in the final years of the Move Seattle Levy, they will need to demonstrate a bold and achievable vision for Seattle’s future, and they will need to package that vision into a measure voters will pass in 2024. That’s a lot of work, so Seattle will need to elect someone who has demonstrated they can get a lot of work done effectively and decisively.
M. Lorena González is the leader for this moment. There is no question about it, which is why Seattle Bike Blog endorsed her in the primary. Her Council office has successfully passed many ambitious pieces of legislation that many considered impossible in Seattle. González does not shy away from an idea just because the “conventional wisdom” in town says it can’t happen here. She asks pointed, often challenging questions to make sure the ideas are sound, then she takes decisive action. This is the leadership style Seattle needs right now.
We have had a half decade of rudderless, indecisive and dysfunctional mayoral leadership, and it has been very damaging to city departments and to the general population’s morale. The 35th Ave NE fight is a very instructive example of a pattern that has played out around many other issues and communities across the city in recent years. It took Mayor Jenny Durkan more than a year to make a decision that could have been made in a day, waiting until the last possible second before ultimately choosing to undermine SDOT staff. So throughout that whole year of indecision, neighbors argued fiercely with each other about it, concocted propaganda, organized roadside pickets and tried to get local businesses to pick a side. There are many community wounds that still haven’t healed and maybe won’t ever heal because of this completely avoidable year of fighting. The 35th Ave NE fight was simply about how to repaint the lines on a street. Her indecisiveness has been much more harmful when it concerned more complex issues that affect even more of the city.
González will make decisions, and Seattle Bike Blog believes she will stand by the many bold plans, policies and goals the people of Seattle and the City Council have approved. This includes the Bicycle, Pedestrian and Transit Master Plans as well as the Climate Action Plan and the Vision Zero Plan. She will also be a visionary leader in the city’s efforts to update these plans as needed early in her term to get them ready before the 2024 transportation measure.
Her opponent Bruce Harrell was also on City Council for a long time, and Seattle Bike Blog did not even mention him in our primary endorsement because he did very little during his time in office for bicycling or safe streets that was worth mentioning. The only real exception was showing up to a 2015 community protest on Rainier Ave S calling for a safety project following some awful and scary collisions there. But it took an enormous amount of community organizing (in his district during an election year) to get him to take on the issue. Nothing about his many years on Council suggests that he would be a proactive leader on addressing our city’s urgent traffic safety needs.
Worse, Harrell scoffed at the idea of prioritizing bike lanes during a recent King 5 televised mayoral debate, saying bluntly, “I don’t lead with bikes.” He also talked about how “cars will get smaller and electrified. So we also don’t ignore the fact that people will continue to drive cars.” I don’t know what fantasy roadway he’s driving on, but it’s not a roadway in America. Cars keep getting bigger and bigger, including electric cars and trucks. Some consumer-level electric trucks now weigh more than 6,000 pounds unloaded, significantly more than their gas-powered equivalents (batteries are big and heavy). Seattle traffic is terrible, and there’s no magic car technology on the way that will change that. It should be concerning to all Seattle voters that Harrell does not have a realistic understanding of how transportation works in a city.
González, on the other hand, offered real, practical solutions that have worked in cities around the world. “I think that it’s really important to make sure we’re investing significantly in our sidewalks and in our bike lanes and safe ways to travel throughout our city that makes cars optional,” she said in the debate. “That doesn’t mean we don’t need to pay attention to bridge maintenance. We absolutely do. I live in West Seattle. I understand what it’s like to have a bridge fail and a major piece of infrastructure fail in our city. But I will not be a mayor that raids transit funding in order to fund those maintenance requirements.”
The choice here is very clear. Vote González!
You can watch González and Harrell discuss transportation issues in this October 14 debate (starts at 44:30):