City Election Night Party Report
posted by March 13 at 22:05 PMon
The crowd at the no-viaduct campaign party in a smallish meeting room at the Edgewater Hotel grew increasingly rowdy (and sweaty) as rebuild opponents anxiously awaited the results of tonight’s election on two up-or-down ballot measures – one on a larger elevated viaduct, one on a scaled-back, four-lane tunnel. Both freeways were defeated—the tunnel by a margin of 70 to 30 percent, the viaduct 55 to 45. The crowd of about 300 included establishment figures like the Downtown Seattle Association’s Kate Joncas, mainstream environmentalists like Aaron Ostrom from FutureWise and Jessyn Farrell and Rob Johnson from the Transportation Choices Coalition, and surface/transit option supporters like city council member Peter Steinbrueck, People’s Waterfront Coalition founder Cary Moon, and Sierra Club leader Mike McGinn.
As Ostrom announced the results and the mayor entered the room followed by his entourage, one staffer began clapping loudly, but the room was slow to comply. Ostrom, who spoke first, waited for an uncomfortable period while a TV reporter finished interviewing Steinbrueck in front of the mayor’s podium—almost literally stealing Nickels’s spotlight. As Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis hugged Moon, he told her quietly, “We’ll be talking more soon.” Nickels, surprisingly for one of the most longstanding supporters of a tunnel freeway on the waterfront, trashed the idea of having a freeway — any freeway— “on our waterfront.”
After his brief remarks, Nickels scurried out Hollywood-style, trailed by a pack of TV reporters who chased him onto the elevator like papparazzi. Ceis, wielding a glass of red wine, was direct about Nickels’s meaning: “No freeway. The voters don’t have to hit us on the head for us to get it.” Then he gestured toward Moon with his glass of red wine. “There’s your story.”
Over at the Spitfire Lounge on Fourth Ave., the surface/transit supporters are still celebrating at 10:00, while the more staid party at the Edgewater was winding down. Moon, who walked into the room to loud applause, said she hoped Nickels would “support the will of the voters and get on board with the surface/transit plan.” Steinbrueck, usually no fan of the mayor, had conciliatory words for the longtime tunnel supporter. “The mayor deserves to be praised for having stood up to the governor” against the rebuild, Steinbrueck said. Steinbrueck, who recently announced he would not be seeking reelection to city council so that he could fight for the surface/transit option full-time, said he would “be happy” to work with the mayor if that’s what Nickels wanted.
Tomorrow morning, the governor and mayor are expected to sit down again and attempt to hash out a solution. The speculation tonight was that they would agree to begin work on the portions of the roadway south of King Street—the portions that are the same under any plan—and, possibly, to begin implementing the surface/transit option as a “stopgap” until a new plan can be devised. Tonight, Steinbrueck said he planned to introduce legislation freezing all city money for the viaduct in this year’s budget (about $8 million) and allocating $500,000 to begin a joint city/county study of the surface/transit option, the council and mayor’s official “backup” plan.