Is there a correlation between mail-in ballots and bike-friendly cities? To the south, Multnomah County (home to Portland) is just finishing up counting its mail-in votes, and King County still has thousands more.
After over a week of ballot counting, election watchers in Washington are still clicking refresh to see returns in several tight races around the state. 86% of Cascade’s bike-friendly candidates are ahead in their respective races, with Rep. Roger Goodman and Sen. Rodney Tom reversing their fortunes after election night and coming from behind. Reps. Tami Green and Hans Dunshee (who bikebelled his district) looked to be squeaking by at first but wound up with comfortable margins. One contest is still too close to call – Senator Randy Gordon trails challenger Steve Litzow by only .6% after Litzow held what might have been an insurmountable lead in the first returns. Randy may be within striking distance after today’s results are released by King County.
Overall, we will see mostly familiar faces in 2011, but strong new pro-bike candidates will be joining them from around the state. These include Kris Lytton, an Anacortes School Board Director, Nick Harper, an environmentalist from Everett, Andy Billig, who partly owns the Spokane Indians and got them using clean energy, Joe Fitzgibbon, who chaired the Burien Planning Commission, Seattle attorney David Frockt, and Chris Reykdal of Olympia, who believes in fundamental reform of the state DOT. Unfortunately, strong advocates for transportation choices like Rep. Geoff Simpson and Sen. Chris Marr did not survive the election. Two consolations for Jake Fey’s loss in Tacoma are that his opponent, Laurie Jinkins, will also make an excellent bicycle-friendly legislator, and Jake will remain a strong advocate for bicycling on the Tacoma City Council.
The full makeup of next year’s legislature won’t be decided until Sen. Gordon’s and other tight races are decided – then we’ll start to know more about committee assignments and further shape Cascade’s legislative agenda for 2011. Meantime, cross your fingers!
We had the ambitious goal of reaching out far beyond Puget Sound this year with our 50 candidate endorsements, and the result is that about 30% of the whole state legislature will be pro-bike. What this will yield in the legislative session remains to be seen, however. The slow economy means more big challenges for the state budget. The passage of initiatives 1107 and 1053 will further deepen cuts that jeopardize programs like Safe Routes to School, grants for making roads safer in communities around Washington, and trail projects. As in 2009 and 2010, Cascade’s third year in Olympia will focus more on policies such as the Vulnerable User Bill that enforce traffic laws and protect pedestrians and bicyclists, and those like Complete Streets that require transportation projects for all road users rather than piecemeal projects. While we are experiencing lean years, the abundance of enthusiastic new legislators means that Washington is likely to become a more bicycle-friendly state.