This guest post is by Mike McGinn, mayor of Seattle, in response to state senator Ed Murray's guest post yesterday that was ostensibly about sub-area equity funding of Sound Transit but focused largely on the mayor's race — Eds
If Senator Ed Murray wants to meet the person responsible for Seattle not having more transit, he can simply look in the mirror. And while he tries to attack me, proposing to end sub-area equity is the equivalent of starting a political bar-fight among local elected officials. He's jeopardizing Seattle's transit future just as we've made more progress than ever before.
Sound Transit has made great progress toward building a rail network in Seattle and the Puget Sound region. For 30 years we had tried and failed to make progress. Forward Thrust was voted down and we struggled to break the political deadlock around transit.
But we got there. We broke the deadlock by uniting voters and politicians from Seattle and the suburbs through the policy known as sub-area equity. That policy has generated political support and votes for building more rail in Seattle as well as around the region.
The results are clear. We’ve got one rail line open in Seattle, with two more under construction to connect the U-District and Northgate. We are getting close to groundbreaking for the East Link, and have funded routes that take us toward Lynnwood and Federal Way.
Through regional cooperation we’re also making big strides in planning even more rail in Seattle. I won approval from the Sound Transit board to advance the planning for the following routes so they can be ready to be funded, potentially in Sound Transit 3 in 2016:
• Ballard to downtown (jointly with City of Seattle) • Downtown to West Seattle • Ballard to the Eastside via 520
In fact, at the urging of myself and others, the Sound Transit board accelerated all of their planning around the region so we are prepared to go to the ballot in 2016 if the legislature gives Sound Transit revenue authority to support expansion.
All of that work falls apart if a Seattle mayor suddenly decided they wanted to change the deal. By attacking sub-area equity Ed Murray threatens to blow up Sound Transit. Sound Transit's board was willing to advance these rail planning studies in Seattle in part because I pledged Seattle's support to help complete the regional system. Communities outside of Seattle have been banking on future rail while the central portion has been built in Seattle. Proposing to end sub-area equity and take the money for Seattle is guaranteed to destroy the regional political coalition for rail and doom the chances of putting Sound Transit 3 on the ballot in 2016.
Further, sub-area equity protects Seattle. The recession significantly reduced Sound Transit's revenues too, and they are working hard to meet their commitments elsewhere in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties. We need to ensure revenue raised in Seattle stays in Seattle to support our projects - which is why Seattle needs to defend sub-area equity, not attack it.
If Murray wanted to do something productive to help Seattle build more transit, he would have supported giving Seattle the ability to tax ourselves to build transit here faster. But he refused do that. Under his leadership the legislature has done a great job investing in suburban highway expansion while starving cities of the revenue we need to repair our roads and expand our transit.
By working together with regional leaders I’ve helped get Seattle closer than ever to building out a rail network that connects our neighborhoods. Murray wants to jeopardize that to serve his political ambitions. I think the choice for Seattle’s transit future is pretty clear.