Democratic candidate Noel Frame, who wants to be the next state legislator from Seattle's 36th District, is charging that her opponent, Democratic Port Commissioner Gael Tarleton, is soft on coal trains. (And this on a day when Mayor Mike McGinn is saying "I hope that every one of our legislators will join the city" in opposing more coal trains through Seattle.)
For her part, Frame says:
Today, I’m reiterating my opposition to expanding coal shipments through the 36th Legislative District. Allowing coal trains to pass literally through our back yards flies in the face of our state’s longstanding values around clean energy and conservation. This issue is personal for me because these coal trains would pass near Discovery Park, the Ballard Locks, Carkeek Park, and other treasures of our district. Like so many parents, I enjoy taking my family to Golden Gardens and can’t stand the thought of dirty trains covering our beach and filling the air with coal dust.
We must not sell out our kids’ future to protect the profits of a handful of rich and powerful corporations.
Those are unambiguous, categorical statements of opposition.
Her spokeswoman, Sue Evans, says that "Gael agrees with Climate Solutions that we need a regional environmental review on the industry, not just the individual projects."
That's not exactly categorical opposition to more coal trains. And, although Tarleton wants coal trains covered up in the short-term "to protect public health," and although Tarleton is "fundamentally opposed to using any public money towards fossil fuels," which "includes public ports which are being proposed that are increasing the coal train traffic"—although Tarleton says all of those things, opponents point out they don't hear in any of that: "Today, I'm reiterating my opposition to expanding coal shipments."
Opponents are also scouring Tarleton's campaign contributors for ties to coal interests. One that pops up immediately: The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company, which would carry the new coal trains from Montana to Washington State, has donated $500 to Tarleton this campaign cycle (and more in previous cycles).
UPDATE: Tarleton, who says she had some serious cell phone troubles today, just called to offer her categorical opposition to more coal trains.
“I don’t want coal trains running through Washington State," Tarleton said. "But we don’t control what gets to ride on th rails. That’s the whole point. It’s great to be opposed to something, but what are we going to do about it?"
What's Tarleton going to do about it? See above.
Meanwhile, she calls Noel Frame's attacks on her coal-train stance "really interesting, because if you go back and look at her responses in the candidate forums in the primary, she acknowledged two times, in those forums, and on video, that she didn’t know much about the problem. And so it’s interesting that she’s suddenly done her homework and suddenly become more knowledgeable about my opinions. I have no idea how she formed hers... I know that she doesn’t know nearly as much as I know about this situation.”