Tuesday night featured two Sound Transit-related events, and the contrast between the two shows how supporters of a massive, expensive light rail expansion think they need to appeal to voters in Seattle vs. the Eastside. One was a debate in a church, the other at a bar where attendees were told that light rail is great for nights of heavy drinking.
Over in Bellevue, Kevin Wallace of the Bellevue City Council debated with his former colleague, current King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci, who is a longtime ally of King County Executive Dow Constantine. Both debaters called Sound Transit’s $54 billion ST3 a “moonshot,” though the Seattle Times noted that they meant it in two very different ways.
It’s certainly a moonshot in one way: There’s no way Sound Transit could complete the package on time and under budget.
Wallace focused on the size of ST3 and how it will hurt schools funding, a view shared by state Sen. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle). Under the state constitution, education is the state’s “paramount duty,” but ST3 will suck up so much property tax capacity that it will make meeting the McCleary decision much more difficult.
“Our moonshot plan shouldn’t be light rail to Issaquah [in 2041]. The moonshot should be an education for our children who are born today,” Wallace said. While Wallace believes K-12 schools are our No. 1 priority, Balducci disagreed, saying transportation is the region’s No. 1 issue.
It was a clear contrast: One side arguing that public schools are our most important investment, the other saying train tracks that mostly serve Seattle are.
Speaking of clear contrasts, rather than a sober-minded debate, over in Seattle Tuesday night ST3 supporters had a campaign kickoff at Neumo’s, with speakers arguing that light rail is about linking the races together and tackling social justice.
In fact, ST3 supporters will find any way they can to appeal to “progressive” Seattle voters. One organizer told “even you drunk people upstairs” that they should volunteer light rail is great for “people who like to go out drinking at clubs.”
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