Its that wonderful time of year when Cascadians get to voice their typically-so-polite opinions by choosing the candidates and propositions that matter most. Here is a quick look at some of the most important issues this time around.
In the time of carbon footprints and LEED design, transportation and its environmental impacts is ALWAYS a controversial topic. Pierce, Snohomish, and King Counties in Washington are voting on an $18 billion dollar transportation packet that couples new road construction with extended light rail. The proposition has been criticized for trying to reconcile car users with transportation riders and many groups, including the Stranger newspaper, and the Sierra Club, as well as King County executive, Ron Sims, have denounced the measure. Governor Gregoire and the Seattle PI both endorsed the plan but it seems it did not satisfy enough voters.
In the Bay Area a similar battle rages as two Propositions, A and H, will decide the fate of sustainable transportation in the San Francisco area. Proposition A looks to pump $26 million more dollars a year into the bay area's MUNI system which has been plagued with problems and slow downs in the past few years. Proposition H, an indirect rebuttal to A, wants to increase off-street parking spaces within the city limits. The majority of publications, as well as the current mayor, Gavin Newsom, have endorsed Proposition A and not H, but the influential and popular San Francisco Examiner has taken the other stance as well as the Small Business Owner's Association, a group with substantial funds. A populist campaign has been sparked to deter more money for public transport.
In Oregon a special election has been called for two measures that typify the free spirit of the Oregonians. Measure 49, which is almost certain to be approved, would restore property rights to rural and suburban land owners. It adds a number of restrictions to commercial farm and forest lands, but also gives private property owners many rights taken away in 2004, including the ability to build up to 10 homes on one piece of land. Measure 50 would implement an 84 cent tax on cigarette packs which would go to into a fund to help low income children receive better health care as well as tobacco prevention programs. The issue has been incredibly divisive and won the record for most campaign money on any single measure with $12 million dollars being spent by supporters and opponents together. As righteous as this measure is, it seems that Oregon voters are not ready for more taxes.
There are also a number of mayoral elections taking place throughout Cascadia.
- In Bellingham, WA Dan Pike won the mayoral election with an emphasis on saving Lake Whatcom and quickly but responsibly developing the old GP waterfront.
- In Spokane, WA it looks like Mary Verner will be the new mayor. Verner studied the environment and resource management and has focused on sustainable, healthy growth for the eastern city.
- In Boise, Idaho incumbent David Bieter is facing a close race against retired police chief Jim Tibbs.
- And finally, in San Francisco a show of a mayoral race is taking place with 12 candidates battling against incumbent Gavin Newsom. The candidates come from all walks of life including a nudist activist, a homeless taxi cab driver, the infamous Josh Wolf, and an artist named "Chicken John" Rinaldi (pictured). While Newsom enjoys incredibly high approval ratings and is almost certain to win, the Bay Area's Guardian endorsed Quintin Mecke, a young social worker involved in homeless shelters and violence prevention.
For more information about Cascadian Elections, see these informative articles:
[The Guardian] Endorsments and info about San Fran Elections
[The Stranger] Endorsments and info about Washington Elections
[NWCN] Election Coverage in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho
Click here for a wonderful FOX interview with "Chicken John" and the nudist.