City Sims Appoints Conlin to ST Board
posted by January 18 at 15:51 PMon
It’s official: King County Executive Ron Sims has nominated Richard Conlin to the Sound Transit board seat occupied by council member Richard McIver.
Conlin, who just prevailed in his second attempt to become council president, tried once before to win appointment to the board—in 2004, when he took over from McIver as head of the council’s transportation committee. Traditionally, the chair of the transportation committee also sits on the Sound Transit board; but McIver wanted to stay, and Sims decided to keep him. “The arguments at the time were the need for continuity—and McIver had experience—and with issues in the [lower-income, largely minority] Rainier Valley,” where surface-level light rail was controversial, Conlin says. He adds that Sims approached him this time, and not the other way around.
“I think he was surprised to get a call from me, because I had some sharply worded things to say” about Conlin in the past, Sims says—a reference to the protracted battle over the Brightwater sewage treatment plant in south Snohomish County. Conlin was among the plant’s loudest critics; Sims, one of its biggest boosters. “He’s attacked King County vigorously. So obviously, I don’t just appoint people who agree with me. … I don’t know what Richard Conlin’s position is on light rail or [bus rapid transit] or buses or variable tolling. I know he supports public transportation and that’s key to me.”
In fact, Conlin and Sims diverge on one of the key issues coming before the Sound Transit board this year: Whether to take light rail to the ballot this year or in 2010. Sims says he’d prefer to wait until after the first light rail line opens in 2009. “In 2010, it can’t lose,” Sims says. “What you’re seeing is that people want bite-size pieces,” he adds, rather than a huge package that goes to Tacoma and the Eastside as well as Northgate. Conlin, in contrast, says that “if I had my druthers, I’d go with 2008,” but he says he’s open to arguments for waiting.
The council may vote on the nomination as soon as Monday.