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Thursday, July 12, 2007

You Know Your City Council Candidates Aren’t Too Impressive When…

posted by on July 12 at 21:11 PM

your college intern (she’s been handed the thankless, enslaved task of coordinating our ed board interviews) sends you a housekeeping e-mail that includes this sentence:

Hope you enjoyed the interview today— I thought it ran smoothly, but was much less impressed by the candidates than by those for the Port.. oh well.

There you have it City Council hopefuls: The intern thought the Port candidates put on a better show.

Indeed, we had a Port race in yesterday and one of the City Council races in today. Don’t want to say too much before our primary endorsement issue comes out in about 4 weeks (to synch up with when you receive your ballots in the mail), but so far, one candidate tried to bribe us with waffle cookies and carrot cake and another told us about Freud and tunnels and wombs.

Totally true.

RSS icon Comments



People will be getting their ballots in three weeks at the most. By the time you put out your endorsements in four weeks, a big chunk of folks will have voted.

I've been wishing for years that you guys would move your endorsement's up - but this isn't quite far enough up to make the difference....

Posted by Willis | July 12, 2007 10:02 PM


OR ... you could think and vote for yourself.

Posted by EdLolington | July 13, 2007 5:10 AM

Did you demand that each candidate bring back the Monorail? Don't give up the fight, Feit!

(You were utterly wrong, but that never stops you!)

Posted by 14th and Spring | July 13, 2007 7:20 AM

If there's anything we need from our city leaders at this very moment in history, it's daring, vision, courage, gall. And yet we're getting just the opposite. If only these people could be forced to take injections of Michael Bloomberg NYC-grade testosterone.

I mean, I'm supporting Tim Burgess' challenge for David Della's City Council seat if only because I consider Della the evil of two lessers. So I make a contribution to Burgess' campaign and get a letter back in the mail signed by him outlining his vision. And I read this:

I will be a strong leader to make sure Seattle continues to be a leader in environmental stewardship and bus and bike-friendly transportation planning. And unlike my opponent, I'll make sure we don't rebuild a double-decker freeway in the sky along our central waterfront.

I mean it's great that he's anti-new-viaduct. But to say you're pro-bus and pro-bikes in Seattle is a bit like saying you're pro-motherhood and apple pie. It's essentially saying you're pro-transit without having to actually put your neck out in any way for transit.

Of course, Burgess and his campaign guru Christian Sinderman are just responding to the marketplace. Chalk it up to the demise of the monorail and the inability of any actual viaduct replacement plan to garner better than a plurality of support. And for this I blame our political leaders, our business leaders, activist organizations, the press, and let me not spare the voters themselves. Yeah, lot of blame to go around.

Posted by cressona | July 13, 2007 7:49 AM

14th and Spring:

Josh, Did you demand that each candidate bring back the Monorail? Don't give up the fight, Feit! (You were utterly wrong, but that never stops you!)

14th and Spring, if you want to get into a historical monorail debate, I am more than happy to oblige you. The reality is that, because none of our leaders had the courage and foresight to follow through on building the monorail, we're stuck with:

A. What will likely be a surface+transit replacement for the viaduct where the transit component is sorely lacking.

B. Everybody talking about "bus rapid transit" when what they really mean is good-old, crappy conventional bus service, just with a pretty "bus rapid transit" label stuck on it. Because y'know, implementing actual bus rapid transit would actually inconvenience someone.

Posted by cressona | July 13, 2007 7:59 AM


Suck it. I could tell you right now who I'm voting for - I've already done the research, etc - what I'm more worried about are The Strangers' younger readers - those folks who usually forget to vote. It's a big block of folks, and if they ever get motivated to vote, they could be quite a force. Oh, and the Stranger's endorsements usually line up pretty closely to what I was already going to do - so the earlier they get those endorsements out, the better chances my candidates fare.

Oh, and one more thing - Suck it! :-)


Posted by Willis | July 13, 2007 8:39 AM

What about affordable housing and taking care of the homeless? Any candidates for those issues? You know people out on the edge.

BRT is no more of a real description than the tunnel was a hybrid. Seattle needs a transit service it controls like hmmmm Everett! Yes, Cressona it is curious that the same pols that didn't stand up for real grade separated transit now are touting BRT but really mean more buses (but since Metro controls them the city can't really do anything except give away hours to the South Lake Union Trolley [SLUT]) because we won't be building loading platforms etc. required for BRT as they did in Curitiba.

Posted by whatever | July 13, 2007 9:10 AM

I can hardly think of a better slogan for the cowardice that pervades Seattle politics today than this line from council candidate Venus Velazquez: "Not mass transit. Bus rapid transit."

You could rephrase that, "Not rapid transit. Bus rapid transit."

Or better yet, "Not bus rapid transit. Something we just call 'bus rapid transit.'"

There was a meeting last year before Transit Now went to the ballot where an activist enumerated the common features of bus rapid transit and pointed out that "Rapid Ride" didn't meet those standards. And the one higher-up from Metro responded that what they're proposing is not "high-end bus rapid transit."

Yeah, as lame as bus rapid transit is to begin with, we don't have the political wherewithal in this city even to do that. And it's almost like nobody has enough of a clue to demand better.

Whatever @7: "… give away hours to the South Lake Union Trolley [SLUT])… "

P.S. The South Lake Union Trolley is a great example of how we end up doing things in the crappiest way possible because nobody on the City Council has enough of a brain or a heart to know better. Either you demand that Paul Allen and crowd put up the money to do it right, or you don't do it at all. Instead we get a cute, little trolley that only comes every 15 minutes and is scarcely faster than walking.

I believe the reason the City Council is so clueless and cowardly is that we as Seattleites are ourselves too clueless and cowardly to demand better.

Posted by cressona | July 13, 2007 9:54 AM

C’mon Cressona. So the SLU streetcar happened because “nobody on the City Council has enough of a brain or a heart to know better,” and because they are “clueless and cowardly”?

The streetcar vote was 7-2, not 9-0. Anyone following city politics can figure out who the two are.

Posted by BB | July 13, 2007 10:35 AM

BB, I don't consider just shooting down the streetcar proposal to be all that courageous. It's a lot easier to say no to something than it is to push for something worth saying yes to.

Nick Licata's scoring easy populist points with the lesser Seattle crowd shows about as little courage as other councilmembers' kowtowing to developers. I'd like to see Licata challenge his neighborhoods constituency just as I'd like to see other councilmembers challenge Paul Allen.

By the way, it's the very nature of political courage that the least courageous politicians are the ones who, in the moment, are always lauded as being the most courageous. See G.W. Bush pre-Iraq War.

Posted by cressona | July 13, 2007 10:48 AM
Posted by bah | July 13, 2007 10:49 AM

Bah, you seem to be presuming that Seattle voters are a bunch of knee-jerk idiots. So Burgess writes: "We don't like abortion."

This bit of nuance may be (willfully) lost on you, but not every pro-choice person believes that abortion is a totally cool and benign thing. Burgess goes on: "We recognize that not everyone agrees with us and we know the law isn't a good mechanism to resolve these issues, but moral persuasion is." Sounds pro-choice to me.

Let me also ask you, when does the City Council actually vote on issues like choice or marriage equality?

Posted by cressona | July 13, 2007 11:00 AM

@1 - very very true.

You need to push up your Top Ten Endorsements so we can get your input.

Frequently, I just tell my friends to vote a straight Stranger ticket, or one with one minor exception.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 13, 2007 11:00 AM

and cressona, I still think Venus will be a better council member than the other ones, and she at least was willing to explain why she wants a different ADDED form of transit than the existing one.

More is still better. Especially if the BRT is plug-in bio-diesel hybrid bus service running on 100 percent green power.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 13, 2007 11:04 AM

Will, the real question though for Venus Velazquez and any other councilmember who hops on the BRT bandwagon (poor choice of phrase) is this: What do you mean by bus rapid transit?

Because if it's what King County Metro means by bus rapid transit, then it's not bus rapid transit.

Posted by cressona | July 13, 2007 11:10 AM

@11, actually, maybe you should stop assuming that "person of faith"="right wing nutjob."

Burgess won a sole endorsement from the 34th District Democrats on Wednesday night. The motion was moved by Rep. Joe McDermott.

Burgess is also endorsed by Tina Podlodowski, formerly of Lifelong Aids Alliance and the City Council.

Posted by Mickymse | July 13, 2007 11:20 AM

Well, I had a reasonably lengthy discussion with her one day, on this issue, about why she frequently rode the bus, but found it hard to get with her kids from her house to Seattle Center, due to all the transfers.

I think a good interviewer would ask her more questions. I just expect she will put the fire in the City Council's belly they've been lacking. I don't have to agree with her on everything.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 13, 2007 1:43 PM

I never said or implied that Tim Burgess was a "right-wing nutjob". I suggested that the Stranger ask him about his views on marriage equality and choice and then linked to his own words on the subject.

Plus, anyone who has met Burgess, and I have many times, knows he's not a "nut job". However, I was unclear from his writing how he feels aboutt these two issues, each of which are important to me.

These issues don't just point to policy, they point to values. Of course the city decides on issues of fairness and equality every day and those issues point to those values.

Plus, let's think big picture here: many governmental entities decide on issues like access to birth control or proper sex ed or whether an employee or landlord or government can discriminate against someone based on their sexuality. I'd like to know how Burgess feels about these issues before I would vote for him, and thus, furthering his political career, which could lead him to a position in which he could make a decision on these things.

Tim strikes me as thoughtful, but I'm not sure if he and I share the same core values.

Posted by bah | July 13, 2007 4:40 PM

bah: "However, I was unclear from his writing how he feels aboutt these two issues, each of which are important to me."

Here's what Burgess wrote:

Admittedly, we struggle with a lot of pressing issues. We don't like abortion. We value the sacredness of marriage between a woman and man. We recognize that not everyone agrees with us and we know the law isn't a good mechanism to resolve these issues, but moral persuasion is.

It doesn't take a whole lot of interpretation here to see that Burgess is pro-choice and, if not pro-gay marriage, at least pro-civil unions.

Cultural conservatives have gotten suckered into using these issues as a litmus test by right-wing politicians who want to advance their own agendas. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised if cultural liberals now get suckered into using these same issues as a litmus test by left-wing politicians who want to advance their own agendas. Hey, that could be David Della's salvation. He may be awful at his job and awful on the issues that actually come before the City Council, but hey, at least he shares your values.

God forbid (oh, maybe I shouldn't invoke God) that Tim Burgess is a real human being whose views can't be shoehorned into what's considered electable in the city of Seattle! And we wonder why good people don't run for elected office here.

Posted by cressona | July 13, 2007 6:37 PM

Despite your pull-quoting his article, it is not obvious to me where he stands on these issues.

Of course, it's important not to be knee-jerk, but equality is a key one for me and that's what these two issues point to, thus I think it's fair to ask Mr. Burgess about them.

I agree that Burgess should be given a fair shake here. He's qualified for the job and is a serious candidate. After reading this and a few of his other articles, I'm just not sure if he's the person I'd want to vote for.

Posted by bah | July 14, 2007 7:50 AM


If Venus is traveling between West Seattle and the Seattle Center with two children, a car is a reasonable modal choice, but she should be prepared for paid parking. If they took transit, it would involve no more than one transfer. Routes 21, 22, and 56 in West Seattle are through routed with route 15 and 18 that serve Uptown. Routes 54 and 55 are through routed with Route 5. One could transfer on 3rd Avenue farside Virginia Street to many routes serving the Center (e.g., routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 13, and 16); almost no wait would be involved. She probably just took the car as it was convenient and assumed the bus was more difficult than it actually is.

Posted by eddiew | July 14, 2007 4:00 PM

Cressona at 8,

The council candidates are not transit mavens.

BRT and LRT can both be provided along continuums of capacity and reliability depending upon the degree of grade separation and service freqency they are provided. Those are both costly, so the quality is budget dependent.

BRT and LRT systems with less than complete grade separations can still be quite benefitial. Consider the routes 98B and 99B in Vancouver or the LA systems before the Orange line. They each had almost no grade seperation but still attracted significant increases in ridership. Link LRT along MLK Jr. Way South will not have complete grade separation, but will still provide good service.

Glad to read your criticism of the SLU streetcar; it is half-baked.

Posted by eddiew | July 14, 2007 4:10 PM

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