Sound Transit 3 proponent Claudia Balducci and opponent Kevin Wallace squared off in Bellevue on Tuesday night on the merits of the November ballot measure.
Sound Transit 3 opponent Kevin Wallace and transit-board member Claudia Balducci agreed in a Tuesday night debate that the mammoth, 25-year, $54 billion ballot measure qualifies as “a moonshot.”
“Our moonshot plan shouldn’t be light rail to Issaquah. The moonshot should be an education for our children who are born today,” said Wallace, a member of the Bellevue City Council, at an event by the League of Women Voters at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church near Bellevue College.
He’s talking about an argument that the property-tax portion of ST3 would be a burden and make it politically tougher for the state to raise property taxes to still meet a Supreme Court order to supply adequate education funding. Legally speaking, one doesn’t preclude the other, though people such as state Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, maintain that a transit property tax “consumes the oxygen in the room” for other public services.
Sound Transit 3 debates
The public is invited to three remaining League-of-Women-Voters events, where supporters and opponents of the $54 billion, 25-year ST3 ballot measure debate and take audience questions:
• Auburn, Saturday, Sept. 17, at All Saints Lutheran Church, 27225 Military Road S. at 10 a.m.
• Lynnwood, Monday, Sept. 19, at Lynnwood Library, 19200 44th Ave. W., at 7 p.m.
• Seattle, Tuesday, Sept. 20, at Seattle First Baptist Church, 1111 Harvard Ave.
Balducci argued transportation is the No. 1 issue and No. 1 headache for the region, where 800,000 more people are estimated to arrive by 2041, when the transit projects are to be finished, led by 62 more miles of light rail.
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The region rejected ideas such as Interstate 605, a bypass corridor far to the semirural east that was once backed by Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman.
“This plan (ST3) is what is necessary if you don’t want to pave over your entire community,” said Balducci, a Metropolitan King County Council member from Bellevue.
“There isn’t another plan that anyone has proposed, and I don’t know what another plan would be.”
Wallace did offer a sort of counterproposal — finish Link corridors to downtown Redmond and to north Federal Way, with bus-rapid transit east and north of Lake Washington, for $5.5 billion by 2030, using Sound Transit taxes already collected.
“I hope there’s an adult conversation,” he said, “for what I would call Sound Transit 2.5, to send light rail to the highest-density areas.”
Balducci noted Wallace’s version would omit Ballard and West Seattle, where population and clamor for Link are growing.
It’s also likely, though neither debater mentioned it, that an ST3 loss would trigger a movement by Seattle-transit advocates to seek taxes for in-city rail.
Wallace doubts rail would ever serve more than 10 percent of commuters in Issaquah or in Everett. “Issaquah will never have the density of a downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill or the University District,” he said.
The ST3 measure would increase property, sales, and car-tab taxes by a total $326 next year for an average household. Your personal amount can be figured by using a Seattle Times ST3 calculator at seattletimes.com.