Stay Healthy Streets, missing sidewalks, and more @ transportation-advocacy coalition’s forum for Seattle Mayor candidates

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Still deciding who to support for Seattle Mayor? Here’s another chance to compare the candidates – some of them, anyway.

This past Wednesday, five of the 15 candidates participated in a forum focused on transportation, equity, and environmental issues, sponsored by the MASS Coalition (Move All Seattle Sustainably). The five candidates were Lance Randall, Andrew Grant Houston, Bruce Harrell, Lorena González, and Jessyn Farrell; organizers said Casey Sixkiller and Colleen Echohawk also had been invited, but were unable to participate (a surrogate for Echohawk presented an opening statement). The forum was moderated by Erica C. Barnett, editor/publisher of Publicola.

As transportation is a perennially hot topic here – and with an eye ahead to the forum we’re moderating in three weeks – we watched this event. You can see the coalition’s video recording for yourself above. Our notes don’t cover all the questions asked, but you can read the coalition’s transcript here. In addition to opening statements and standard Q&A, the candidates were also asked to give quick yes/no answers to several questions. We’ll start with those:

One question of particular interest here on the peninsula: Would they move to make the no-through-vehicle-traffic Stay Healthy Streets permanent, plus the sections called Keep Moving Streets because of their adjacency to parks, including the stretch around Alki Point? Farrell, González, Harrell, and Houston all said yes; only Randall said no.

Will you commit to requiring SDOT to increase bridge/road maintenance? All five said yes.

What’s each candidate’s primary mode of transportation? Randall: Light rail. Farrell: Walking. González: Bus. Harrell: Electric car. Houston: Light rail and walking (he noted that he does not know how to drive).

Do they support road pricing? No agreement on this. Houston and Randall said no, González and Harrell said yes, Farrell said maybe.

Would they finish the downtown streetcar (which outgoing Mayor Jenny Durkan has put on hold)? All said yes except Randall.

Would they support creating new bus-only lanes, and would they do it via removing parking or removing travel lanes? All five said they support new transit lanes and would consider both options.

Should Metro use smaller “feeder” buses? All said yes.

Should police officers be involved in traffic enforcement? González and Houston said no. Randall said yes. Harrell and Farrell said, in some cases.

Some of the questions veered out of the transportation lane. In the fast-answer round, asked if they’d change zoning to “legalize apartments” in all neighborhoods, all five said yes.

They also were asked if they support ranked-choice voting (which New York is using in its mayoral primary). Houston, González, and Farrell said yes; Harrell and Randall hadn’t decided.

Bridging both the quick-answer section and the longer-answer section was the issue of transit fares. Should nonpayment be decriminalized? González, Farrell, Harrell, and Houston said yes; Randall said no. Same split when the five were asked if transit should be free – Randall said it’s an “interesting idea” but “somebody has to pay the bills” so he would instead support continuing to subsidize those who need help paying. The other four said they would support it, though Harrell had the qualifier that “incremental steps” would be needed “to get there.”

Other long-answer questions included making streets safer. Harrell voiced support for more automated-enforcement cameras and the ongoing Vision Zero program. Houston declared, “We need to make it harder to drive in this city,” and advocated for more Protected Bike Lanes. Randall suggested upgrading the technology for traffic signals an crossings; Farrell said she’s for Vision Zero and 100 miles of Stay Healthy Streets; González also supports those but said they need to be made entirely car-free.

Asked about the Sound Transit realignment discussions and their “priorities” for it, the only one who directly addressed what’s happening in those discussions was González, who noted that it’s a “personal issue” for her as a West Seattle resident and she feels the ST board is making “a mistake” to make decisions “on a 100-year project” when the underlying information – revenue and costs – is continuing to evolve.

Another question was about pedestrian infrastructure and the city’s “missing sidewalks,” with the goals of the Levy to Move Seattle not being met. Randall said the levy’s priorities should be adjusted to focus on neighborhoods that most need the improvements. Farrell said the city needs to “go big” on new sidewalks. González said once the city figures out how to deliver on as much as it can, anything left unfinished should be rolled into the next levy. Harrell said his data initiative could illuminate where the money’s going, but other sources should be considered – he mentioned large employers and philanthropism. Houston wondered if sidewalk construction could be sped up by, for example, synergizing it with utility work.

All five supported expanding use of automated enforcement cameras

Asked about how they will include youth in their decisionmaking, the plans varied. Houston said he already has his own “youth team,” including “paid fellowships.” Harrell said he’s always included youth, and mentioned “team-building, forums, meetings” and other discussion options. Farrell said she talks with her kids. González mentioned existing city programs such as Get Engaged. Randall promised to involve youth in planning.

Again, for everything that was asked, see the video or the transcript above.

WHAT’S NEXT: More forums ahead, including another transportation-themed event at 7 pm Monday (June 21st), presented by Seattle Subway, to be streamed via Seattle Transit Blog. The mayoral forum we’re moderating and co-sponsoring with the West Seattle Junction Association is at noon Saturday, July 10th, streamed as well as having a limited live audience. That’s just four days before King County Elections mails ballots for the August 3rd primary, which will narrow the field of 15 mayoral candidates to two.

37 Replies to "Stay Healthy Streets, missing sidewalks, and more @ transportation-advocacy coalition's forum for Seattle Mayor candidates"

  • Spooled June 20, 2021 (4:06 pm)

    Sounds like Randall is the most level headed based solely on this article.  The rest are too extreme for me.

    • Lola June 21, 2021 (7:52 am)

      Spooled,  my thoughts exactly when I read what they all thought about the topics.  Most want to get rid of cars altogether. Wow. 

  • spooled June 20, 2021 (4:25 pm)

    Lance Randall has my interest.

  • Flo B June 20, 2021 (4:39 pm)

    Expanded use of enforcement cameras get the thumbs up. Sounds like they all like the idea of big brother watching every move. Bet they secretly want facial recognition technology used so they can catch every “law breaker” Well, since they want fewer police officers who would be the investigators they’ll have cameras. Guess when anybody goes to court it’ll be you vs the video, no witnesses needed. 

    • JW June 21, 2021 (8:59 am)

      My lawyer’s declaration of non responsibility printer goes brrrr.

  • Mel June 20, 2021 (7:34 pm)

    Very interested in Randall so far.

  • Mel June 20, 2021 (7:38 pm)

    If police aren’t doing traffic enforcement, what’s the incentive to stop? Regular citizens do not have legal authority to compel identification. These are state laws. Just when I think we can’t make worse decisions as a city…

  • Sunflower June 20, 2021 (8:27 pm)

    Appreciate all the candidates for running and sharing their visions, good work! Look forward to hearing more from all before deciding.

    Would love to vote for a Native American woman, and hope to hear more from Echohawk. Her priority issue is housing for homeless, and that seems right to me.

  • Auntie June 20, 2021 (8:49 pm)

    Candidates for mayor who are advocating “making it harder to drive here” and making streets “car-free” a living in some alternate universe. Until we get a transportation system that actually works, people will continue to drive to their destinations. Example: to take the bus from my home to First Hill takes about an hour and a half and I have to transfer at 3rd & Pine – the scariest place there is downtown. I can drive there in about half an hour and park in a safe, well-lit lot. Fix the transit system and clean up downtown before you try to eliminate cars in Seattle!

    • Ice June 21, 2021 (6:05 am)

      Aren’t you the person who cannot afford to pay 4 dollars for parking at the junction? Please tell me where the free parking on First Hill is.

  • Joe Z June 20, 2021 (10:11 pm)

    There isn’t much differentiating the top candidates on issues so for me it comes down to experience and who is most likely to make progress with their agenda. So someone who has spent time in city politics and is not an outsider like Durkan which didn’t work out very well. González checks all the boxes and represents West Seattle! I’m sure she will be in the top two but it will be interesting to see who gets the second spot… 

    • Barton June 21, 2021 (12:10 pm)

      If you think Gonzalez will advocate for West Seattle you will be sorely disappointed.  Granted, she was not the District 1 rep but at a minimum, as a resident one would have expected her to show her face at events relating to matters crucial to West Seattle during her time as a council member.  Nope.  I would urge you to look long and hard at her record and her conduct before casting your vote.

  • Educate Yourself Before You Vote June 20, 2021 (10:42 pm)

    Definitely know already who will not be getting my vote….Houston! First, he doesn’t know how to drive. Huh?!? Second, he obviously doesn’t live in or travel to West Seattle. It’s hard enough over here and we definitely do not need a mayor who wants to make it even harder for us! Not everyone can take the bus, ride a bike, take the water taxi, walk or lightrail! This city needs someone who is actually a leader, is capable of running a city and understands how that works. The activists need to go back to just that, being an activist!!! Running a government is for all of the people not just some of them!

    • Tracey June 21, 2021 (8:45 am)

      Ditto.  Can’t drive?  That just means he can’t be open-minded about our needs despite his choices.  Red flag for me.  

      • Exhausted June 21, 2021 (3:05 pm)

        Was just about to say something similar to Jort…

        If your car driving entitlement needs, as in you must feel cars are given complete dominance and priority over pedestrians and other car users at all times, is such a high priority and deal breaker for you, encourage you to do some soul searching.

        Communities, neighborhoods, and roads have been so dominated by cars for so long, and the exclusion and danger of others. It would be good to have leaders with a perspective towards improving this for all.

        • Exhausted June 21, 2021 (3:10 pm)

          *road users

          • Educate Yourself Before You Vote June 21, 2021 (9:21 pm)

            Exhausted, you really should re-read my post. Where was it that said I gave cars entitlement and was speaking of only myself in transportation? I think you are the elitist who thinks you are better because you are able to use other modes of transportation than a car. If you had actually read my post instead of reacting to it, you would have read that I was speaking for people who the option of public transportation can not and does not work for them!! For whatever reason that may be! Life is not black & white and the public transit system in Seattle is average at best. So I think you should look in the mirror and see the 4 fingers pointing back at you while you are pointing your finger! And this is a free country and am able to use my vote however I want. It’s not going towards a person who doesn’t know how to drive, is an activist and who wants to appoint a citizen from the community, not from an actual law enforcement background as the chief of police!Also, I am 5th generation to West Seattle and have been thru all of the highs and lows, including the first time we were down to only one lower bridge! When exactly was it that you got here and from what state and what condominium do you live in??!!??

          • Exhausted June 23, 2021 (3:24 pm)

            You’re right, it’s a free country, with the right of free speech. You shared some of your thoughts and opinions and I shared mine. We can disagree.

            More opposite day thinking with viewing people who take public transport or walk or bike as somehow having more privilege for having the option to take the fancy bus.

            From my experience actually having taken these other modes, many if not the majority of folks on public transit do not have the option or it isn’t affordable to own and commute by car.

            So in many cases, it’s actually folks who primarily drive who have more options available them, and they simply choose to drive for the convenience and luxury.

            Of course there are exceptions on both sides, and we shouldn’t have to acknowledge every single one of them. They exist. I’ve already acknowledged some people have valid reasons for having to drive a car.

            You’re also right, it isn’t black and white, so why do you seem to see it that way? Maybe you should take your own mirror advice.

            ‘When exactly was it that you got here and from what state and what condominium do you live in??!!??’

            Wow, now who is the elitist? Well, I’m not a 5th generation West Seattlite, so what do I know about anything!

    • Jort June 21, 2021 (1:39 pm)

      I think it’s safe to say that a symptom of “Car Brain Disease” might be “refusing to vote for a politician because they don’t know how to drive.” That’s a new one, but I must say I am continuously surprised by how important cars are to so many people’s brains.

      • Ivan Weiss June 21, 2021 (2:25 pm)

        I’m not surprised that you’re surprised, Jort. Just about every comment you make here demonstrates, pretty much beyond doubt, that you are either unable, or unwilling, or both, to empathize with others, or to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. That might be fine for you, as you’re not running for public office. But for a candidate for mayor, it’s totally disqualifying. This guy Houston can stick his smug, condescending elitism where the sun doesn’t shine. 

        • Exhausted June 21, 2021 (3:15 pm)

          Since when did people who walk and take transit become seen as elitists? Are you kidding? There is some crazy making lately where everything is opposite day!

          • Ivan Weiss June 21, 2021 (3:37 pm)

            “We walk and take transit” is not elitist. “YOU need to get out of YOUR cars and walk or take transit” is elitist. Most people are capable of making that distinction.

          • Exhausted June 21, 2021 (5:10 pm)

            I think what is being said is MORE people who CAN  need to adopt other modes of transportation, for a bunch of good reasons, including because car traffic is a problem, and for environmental and community health reasons.  Not because it’s a cool elitist thing to do. Hopefully most people can understand this distinction.

          • Canton June 21, 2021 (7:15 pm)

            So who determines who CAN adapt? You, jort, or another anonymous blog poster? People will choose a mode that best fits their daily needs. Also, why does the anti car crowd feel the need to control the lives of others?

          • Exhausted June 21, 2021 (8:46 pm)

            ‘Who determines who CAN adapt?’

            People, themselves.

            Many people who currently drive COULD and WILL reevaluate their mode of transportation and make a change. The right leadership, education, accessibility, improved infrastructure will help facilitate these transitions.

            Maybe some of you can’t or won’t, but that doesn’t mean many other folks won’t make a change.

            And it’s fine if you choose not to. No one is going to take your car from you. I have ‘t heard anyone say people will be forced to make a change. It’s a vision for shifting away from cars being such a predominate focus. Again, because of traffic, environmental, and community health reasons. Roads for cars will still exist for many years. And hopefully transit will expand quickly enough to help free up some car traffic for car folks.

            Not anti car, but concerned about ‘car brain disease.’

          • Canton June 21, 2021 (10:49 pm)

            The people, themselves, have chosen. And that is what you see today. May some change?, sure, but it won’t be the masses that you expect. People’s time is at a premium, and just like water, will find the most productive way to flow. Don’t  think it’s a disease, just a balance of the functioning of life. Again, asking why do people like yourself feel they know, and should dictate, what others do?

          • Exhausted June 22, 2021 (7:47 am)

            People often make new choices. Just because someone has always chosen to drive a car, doesn’t mean they will in the future. People also change their diets, change jobs, quit smoking, relocate, etc.

            Yes, people need improved transportation. That is why people like me see the need for new and  improved transit and accessibility and infrastructure for other modes. You might think biking r transit is impossible or inefficient for you, but it actually works well for many people. 

            ‘Why do people like you feel you know and should dictate to others’

            People like me are likely concerned of the issues and are listening to the experts and leaders on the issues. We also may have some personal experience of switching from driving to other modes and know what that’s like. And not dictating here, rather encouraging and sharing info, out of concern for the issues.

            Why do people like you resist positive changes?  Why not allow others to consider options and make changes, it doesn’t mean you have to? I respect you and others out there may have to continue driving for your own personal reasons which are completely valid. Again, haven’t heard anyone say cars should be taken away. Not even Jort.

            Do you not agree there are traffic, environmental, and community health issues related to cars? Can you not see the logic, and why people would be advocating for progress?

          • Jort June 23, 2021 (12:29 pm)

            Canton: framing the fact that most people choose “driving” as their transportation option isn’t due to a democratic process of people voting on driving. It’s because politicians and planners have spent decades subsidizing automobile infrastructure and choosing to prioritize it over other methods. The majority of people in the Netherlands didn’t all just “choose” to start biking, they were nudged into it by politicians who de-prioritized cars by cutting funding for car infrastructure and increasing funding for biking infrastructure. The majority of commuters in Tokyo didn’t “choose” to build an enormous subway system, they were nudged into it because the government strongly prioritized building a subway system over building an unsustainable car system. Seattle can do the same thing, and eventually they will, one way or the other, because no city on planet earth has ever, not even once, been able to successfully thrive while accommodating private vehicles as its primary method of transportation. Seattle will not be the first city in human history to make this work.

  • Pessoa June 21, 2021 (5:13 pm)

    For some reason, Seattleites seem to think they have the best public transportation in the country.  Even transplants, such as Mr. Houston, have bought into this perennial myth.  As of 2014, the three top cities in terms of commuter access to public transportation were:   New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, in that order.    

  • Ivan Weiss June 22, 2021 (8:50 am)

    @ Exhausted:’

    You talk about “progress” and “positive changes,” and yet you conveniently ignore that this thread started in reaction to a candidate for Mayor, Houston, who has said he “visualizes a city without cars,” and “wants to make it harder for people to drive in Seattle.” I and others called it “elitism” and an “absence of empathy.”

    We are only now just beginning to recover from a worldwide lethal pandemic that has killed millions and disrupted life, work, and the social fabric for all of us, and the virus has not ceased to mutate. West Seattle has been without the high bridge since March 2020. People are being stretched to the limit, and patience and mental stability are fraying. Many people are being forced to report to their workplaces, where protection from the virus is uncertain. People who have worked from home successfully are pressured to return to their offices, which puts more cars on the streets and puts commute time at a premium.

    People see what you call “positive change” as coming at their expense, yet you insist that people see all that from your point of view, when you make no effort whatever to see it from theirs.

    • Exhausted June 22, 2021 (10:08 am)

      When Houston says he visualizes a city without cars, it’s an ideal on principal, with concern to the issues, not a reality, that will happen any day soon. Guarantee there will still be roads and cars through your lifetime. You can relax.

      Perhaps you should take your own advice, and try to see beyond your personal car centric view. Some of us have a different perspective and needs and concerns for our environment and other people’s health, maybe you can show a little more respect for the minority.

      One thing is very clear, the idea of change and gradual progress by individual choice seems to be really threatening for those who have no interest in personally making any changes or adaptations.

    • Exhausted June 22, 2021 (1:17 pm)

      @Ivan, want to add, and apologize too, because I also disagree with the statement that we should make it harder for people to drive. I cringed a bit when Houston said that actually, so I’m sorry for not acknowledging this earlier. You have a point to be upset by that.

      I do however think we should be making it easier for people to have access and utilize other transportation options.

      Might be wrong but I don’t think Houston said he ‘wants’ to make it harder for people to drive but that ‘ we need to,’ and while I don’t agree exactly with how he said this, interpret this to mean that the easier it is for people to not drive the harder it will be for them to keep choosing to drive.

      The point is that cars should be less prioritized and other progress prioritized. That doesn’t mean actually obstructing cars from driving or suddenly not maintaining existing roads, etc. 

      Could be wrong, and maybe these distinctions don’t matter to some of you, and this still feels an attack on your freedom to drive, but the distinction makes a difference to me.

      • Jort June 23, 2021 (12:31 pm)

        The only way people have been pushed from their cars to buses, trains and bikes is when they are the better option than cars. Unfortunately for cars, improvements to transit and biking require actual trade-offs with car infrastructure in terms of funding and road space. So, yes, driving will get worse, because there’s nothing you can do to make it better. No city in human history ever has, Seattle won’t be the first.

  • Exhausted June 22, 2021 (10:34 am)

    @Ivan, btw, those of us who care about saving the environment for EVERYONE and improving transit options and access are not selfish and unempathetic. Again, nice try with the opposite day nonsense.

    • Ivan Weiss June 22, 2021 (2:38 pm)


      I have supported every single mass transit option that has ever been proposed, and am glad to have done so. As the population of the state grows, so must mass transit, to keep pace.

      However, I part company with transit advocates who insist that this come at the expense of cars, trucks, and highways, which appears to be most transit advocates, and some elected officials or former elected officials, or wannabe elected officials, like, off the top of my head, Mike McGinn, Mike O’Brien, Rob Johnson, Jessyn Farrell, and now this Andrew Grant Houston.

      No new highways, they all said, and more road diets and less parking, even though the population continues to increase. “Congestion tolling!” they call for, and “vehicle miles per gallon taxes,” as if it’s any government agency’s damn business how many miles I drive.

      I’m retired, and stay pretty much at home. But most people I know are not blessed with that choice, and if they feel more put upon by all this, I can’t say that I blame them.

      And nice try to you also, with your “save the environment” argument. Come and see me with that one when we have shut down all the big industrial polluters.

      • Jort June 23, 2021 (12:32 pm)

        Perhaps that’s why you supported Bob “I Will Literally Kill Light Rail to West Seattle” Hasegawa for mayor, when he proposed eliminated the MVET because he doesn’t like funding public transportation.

        • Ivan Weiss June 24, 2021 (5:44 am)

          @ Jort:

          I supported Bob Hasegawa DESPITE his statement about eliminating the MVET, which I did not agree with. Unlike you, I’m not a single-issue crusader. As for Bob, saying he didn’t like funding public transportation is just a lie, that you continue to repeat because it suits your tiresome narrative.

          Bob was calling attention to his position that light rail was underserving minority communities, which it does. I didn’t care for the way he expressed it, but that’s on him, and I have many other reasons to remain his strong supporter.

Sorry, comment time is over.