While the rest of you were downtown at the Pride Parade, I was out in Magnolia tagging along with Will Kelley-Kamp, blogger at Horse's Ass and state Rep. Geoff Simpson's former campaign manager, going door to door to pass out fliers for Sound Transit's proposed 2008 ballot measure. The package would increase bus service, allow more than 20 new miles of light rail, add Bus Rapid Transit service to the 520 bridge and triple Seattle-Tacoma commuter rail service.
Will briefed me on the key transit issues before our number 24 bus pulled into the comfortable hilltop dwellings of upper Magnolia.
The two of us were paired up by Rob Johnson, regional policy director at Transportation Choices Coalition, and according to Will, we were one of at least 25 groups doorbelling over the weekend all around the Sound Transit area.
The cool part was that each of the groups were assigned to the neighborhood of an elected official, and Will and I scored the neighborhood of Larry Phillips, a King County Councilmember and Sound Transit Executive Committee member, who also happens to be considering a run for Ron Sims's gig as County Exec. According to Will, Phillips is big into light rail, so he gets props from us Sound Transiters. Sims, according to Will, is a "light-rail hating monster." Sims has had a good run, Will says, but his time has passed.
So Will and I began our journey through the sea of Range Rovers, seeking the opinions of Larry Phillips' neighbors and stopping at the houses of those registered Democrats that bother to vote once in awhile. Most of the people we visited were surprisingly receptive.
One of the first neighbors we visited brought up a common theme—with regard to area-wide rail service, he said, we just need to buckle down and build it, like San Francisco did with the flawed BART system back in '72. We told him we were going to go on to Larry Phillips' house later. "Larry's kinda... yeah," he said.
When we told the neighbors we were trying to get a package on the ballot, some of them expressed confusion at the amount of measures they were being asked to consider for 2008 (ours, of course, is the most important). Others were worried most about the Earthquake-damaged Magnolia Bridge. Claire Creim, poodle at her feet, told us she's gotten frustrated with seeing little progress on any projects in the Magnolia area. "I don't mind paying taxes if I get something for my money," she said. Creim moved to Seattle from Tennessee 20 years ago and insisted that the roads and transit system there is more progressive.
Finally, after hours of working in the blazing hot sun, we arrived at Larry Phillips' house. In case you were wondering, this is what a County Councilmember's house looks like:
When we got there, Phillips and his family had recently returned from the Pride Parade ("It was great!") and were having a barbecue, but they came out for a minute to shoot the breeze. Phillips has already voiced his support for the ballot measure, so we didn't really have too much convincing to do. He's pro-light rail. He's pro-Gay Pride Parades. We approved.
Phillips didn't say much else about the Sound Transit package except that he was still trying to convince a couple of ST board members to go along with the 2008 plan. He told us, while looking at his teenage son, that "effective leadership" is the key to getting things done in the area. We didn't disagree.