2009 Primary Election Endorsements
7/23 update: Election ballots in the mail next week!
After months of interviews and research, the Cascade Bicycle Club is proud to roll out its 2009 candidate endorsements. Being one of the more coveted endorsements in the Seattle area, we're used to being lobbied hard for our support, but what makes this year more interesting -- and difficult -- is the number of people we know and like who are running against each other.
This year’s local elections present a critical opportunity to support candidates who recognize the benefits of bicycling for health and transportation, and who will build bicycling infrastructure in our communities. Here are highlights on our list of pro-bike candidates whom you may see on your ballot. There are many more endorsements on their way this year, so check this page and your email inbox for updates.
King County Executive
A number of candidates are seeking to replace stalwart bicycling advocate Ron Sims following his appointment as Assistant Secretary of HUD. Staff and board members have received questionnaires and interviewed all of the major candidates save TV personality Susan Hutchinson, who did not return calls or emails.
We have worked with the four candidates who pursued our endorsement for several years in varying capacities. Two are members of the legislature, Ross Hunter and Fred Jarrett, and two currently serve on the King County Council, Larry Phillips and Dow Constantine. All are viable candidates who have sought and won elected office in the past. They are all largely pro-bike, but the position of County Executive is too important for us to leave it at that. The responsibility the executive has for setting the tone on regional transportation and land use planning and completing the regional trails system can make or break the future of bicycling in King County.
The issue that drew the clearest distinctions between all of the candidates was the disposition of the BNSF Eastside corridor. Hunter and Phillips would not concede that rail-banked corridors are unequivocally preserved for rail to return and that the federal law is airtight. Both preferred leaving unused tracks on the corridor to constructing an interim trail arguing the tracks would be a psychological reminder. Larry Phillips also sponsored and passed an ordinance last fall that stripped some county employees of their bicycle commuter tax benefit in order to draw distinctions between himself and Sims, who he was preparing to challenge. Another candidate, Senator Jarrett, who has a long history of supporting us in the legislature, made statements about the Critical Areas Ordinance and Countywide Growth Management Policies that left us troubled.
For his part, Council member Dow Constantine’s record at the county is nearly one hundred percent. Further, he’s the only candidate in the race who proposed fast-tracking the purchase of the BNSF eastside right of way and the immediate construction of a multi-use trail on the rail bed. Throughout his interview Dow drew comparisons between the active work of the Cascade Bicycle Club and policies and programs he would pursue as executive. To say we were impressed would be an understatement.
Recommendation: Dow Constantine for King County Executive
Incumbent Mayor Greg Nickels should be running for a comfortable third term. A number of polls however, have the Mayor running behind other candidates in the general election. As such, he has drawn a number of high profile opponents who are making a race of it. A number of the Mayor’s opponents were interviewed. Joe Mallahan, Jan Drago,and Michael McGinn have all sought the organization’s support. Others who are not seeking our support include James Donaldson and Elizabeth Campbell.
We have worked closely with two of the Mayor’s challengers over the course of many years, Drago and McGinn, and have positive impressions of both. Michael McGinn was Cascade Chapter Chair for the Sierra Club during the Bridging the Gap Streets Levy and Compete Streets Ordinance campaign. He founded Seattle Great City, a nonprofit urban sustainability organization and worked with Cascade to help defeat the flawed Roads & Transit measure in 2007. His questionnaire and interview were strong. City Council member Jan Drago returned a supportive questionnaire and had a solid interview. She was most impressive when answering a question regarding regional cooperation, stating that she would strive to create an urban caucus that lobbies Olympia for policies that support vibrant cities. Cascade worked closely with Drago and her staff on the Complete Streets Ordinance and the Bridging the Gap streets levy.
Joe Mallahan is being touted for his managerial experience and his outsider status. While his questionnaire was supportive, his lack of policy development and analysis experience was on display during his interview. Publicly, he has criticized two-way Mercer stating that it was not a transportation project, and continues to harp on green-bike lanes saying they leach toxic runoff. Both statements are demonstrably untrue and made us uneasy.
Mayor Nickels directed the development of the Bicycle Master Plan and sought to fund it through the Bridging the Gap streets levy. He worked with us to craft a strong Complete Streets ordinance and was man enough to admit the City erred when it reversed itself on Stone Way. His questionnaire and interview stressed our joint accomplishments, and they are numerous. In the end, it comes down to this the Cascade Bicycle Club, like many other organizations, first supports officeholders who have a record of supporting us in that office. The fact is that Mayor Nickels has done more for bicycling than any mayor and for that reason he has earned our support for a third term.
Recommendation: Greg Nickels for Mayor of Seattle
Seattle City Council, Pos. 4
Sally has commendable experience and a good vision for the new waterfront. She is also a CBC member and former Burke-Gilman bike commuter while serving as a councilmember in Lake Forest Park and more recently as a prosecutor for King County. David Bloom is also a strong contender with a long history of community organizing and involvement. He gave thoughtful responses in our interview, but unfortunately we had to agree to disagree on our approach to growth management and transportation projects. Brian Carver and Dorsol Plants, also great advocates for bicycle-friendly policies, impressed us with their passion, but Sally’s experience makes her the best equipped for city hall.
Recommendation: Sally Bagshaw for Seattle City Council, Position 6
Seattle City Council, Pos. 6
Challengers Marty Kaplan and Jessie Israel are taking on incumbent Councilman Nick Licata. While Licata’s lone advocacy on some issues has gained him a base of support, he has been on the other side of numerous projects important to Cascade, the two-way Mercer project being just one example. Jessie Israel impressed us with the thoroughness of her questionnaire and the vision she expressed in our interview. We felt that, while she could use a few years under her belt, she has considerable experience in her work at King County Parks and otherwise, and is running a strong campaign. Kaplan is also a strong contender, as an architect with years of service on the Seattle Planning Commission. He is well-versed in the land use and transportation issues that come before that body, and has a long track record of siding with Cascade on some controversial issues.
Both Israel and Kaplan answered the questions on their questionnaires and in their interviews thoroughly and interestingly. The two have different strengths, but Jessie demonstrated a stronger vision for the City, expressed new ideas to take a forward-thinking approach to density and other hot-button issues, and an unwavering commitment to cycling as part of that future.
Recommendation: Jessie Israel for Seattle City Council, Position 6
Seattle City Council, Pos. 8
Mike O'Brien has been an ally as leader of the Sierra Club, Cascade chapter, as well as a bicyclist who knows how to make a difference. He’s stood by Cascade on tough fights that did not appear to be politically possible. His business savvy, too, is a great asset. As the CFO of a law firm, he managed to cut costs by promoting healthy transportation choices. He makes a point of bike commuting in business attire whenever possible, promoting cycling. As Mike faces a tough primary with six candidates- he needs the support of Cascade members to reach the top two!
Jordan Royer, formerly a city employee and now a lobbyist, knows city hall inside and out. Though Jordan is not a regular bicyclist, and also deals with many of our opponents through his work in the shipping industry, he shares our position on many critical issues as well. If not running against one of the Club’s greatest allies, he would make a good addition to the council.
Four other candidates also sought our endorsement. Bobby Forch works for the Department of Transportation, but is not well-versed in how to improve bicycling conditions. David Miller, a CBC member, is an advocate for the Maple Leaf Community Council. Unfortunately, we hold different views on how the City should grow and provide transportation choices. Robert Rosencrantz is an avid bicyclist and a past contender, but shares views that align him with our opponents in the Missing Link lawsuit. Rusty Williams has a vision for the City and a desire to improve conditions for bicycling, but could use more experience working with the city to learn the process. If we saw this level of interest in bicycling throughout our region, we would have many more bicycle facilities and many more difficult endorsement decisions.
Recommendation: Mike O'Brien for Seattle City Council, Position 8
Seattle City Council, Pos. 2
Recommendation: Council member Richard Conlin
Incumbent. Commendable voting record and a solid ally. Regular rider. Outstanding questionnaire and interview.
Recommendation: Mayor Ava Frisinger
Incumbent. Unopposed. Partner with Cascade Land Conservancy on Cascade Agenda Cities. Helped us pass Issaquah Complete Streets ordinance. Good questionnaire.
Kirkland City Council, Pos. 1
Recommendation: Joan McBride
Incumbent. Outstanding voting record. Chief ally in first in the state Complete Streets ordinance. Bicycle Alliance of Washington board member. Good questionnaire.
Snohomish County Council, Pos 1
Recommendation: Ellen Hiatt Watson
Ellen is determined to make Snohomish County better for bicycling. She recognizes the health benefits of walking and bicycling, and will work to implement “Complete Streets” policies once elected. The incumbent in this position, John Koster, holds alarming positions on transportation, land use and many other issues. He has not sought the endorsement of Cascade.
Snohomish County Council, Pos. 5
Recommendation: Dave Somers
Dave is an incumbent with a great record on bike-related issues. He is also well-respected as a champion in the environmental community. He also favors more “Complete Streets” policies, and is pushing for them to be adopted nationwide. Offering him Cascade’s endorsement is a no-brainer.
Take action for bike-friendly leaders
Columnist (and noted bike skeptic) Joel Connelly recently wrote that: “Cascade Bicycle Club has emerged as a powerful force in local politics.” This is only true because of thousands of bicyclists like you, voting with your pedals. Join the Pro-Bike Campaign Team and help Cascade support these and other pro-bike candidates. We’ll keep you in the loop about opportunities to meet the candidates or volunteer. Activities can include rides and rallies, phone banking, researching candidates’ positions on bike issues, and biking to deliver information about the campaign. You can sign up on our advocacy page or contact Chris Rule.