Council endorses Proposition 1

After considerable debate at several recent meetings, Tacoma City Council passed a resolution Oct. 9 endorsing Proposition 1, the roads and mass transit measure that will appear before voters in the Puget Sound region in November. The measure is a package deal offered by Sound Transit and Regional Transit Improvement District (RTID).

Numerous residents testified on the matter prior to the vote. Most were in favor of the council passing the resolution supporting Proposition 1 (Prop 1).

Charles Kelly Creso asked the council to oppose Prop 1. He said it benefits suburbs such as Lakewood and Puyallup, to the detriment of Tacoma. "This tax proposition is the ultimate transfer of wealth outside the city of Tacoma," he said.

While he didn't mention her by name, Creso was clearly referring to Councilmember Julie Anderson with critical comments toward the city's representative on the Sound Transit board, who is Anderson. He said she has failed to support the best interests of Tacoma.

Mark Martinez, executive secretary of Pierce County Building and Trades Council, urged the council to support Prop 1.

"Thousands and thousands of construction jobs will be created by this measure," Martinez said. It would also create apprenticeship opportunities for young adults, he added.  "It is time to invest in our future."

Bruce Olson, chair of Pierce Conservation Voters, voiced support. He mentioned dissension among environmental groups on the measure, most notably Sierra Club coming out against it. The RTID board made many concessions to environmentalists, Olson said.

"The emphasis here should be on solutions," he remarked. "It is less than perfect, because the RTID list is bizarre and back-room driven."

Van Collins of Association of General Contractors expressed support. "We all gain from reduced congestion," he said. "It is a package forged in practicality and common sense." If voters reject it, Collins said, the elected officials who assembled the package would likely splinter off into factions that would never be able to agree on another transportation measure.

David Graybill, president and CEO of Tacoma/Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, noted the chamber's board endorsed it in July. He said Prop 1 addresses major choke points in Pierce County, including near the Tideflats and the military bases.

"Let's not just worry about ourselves," Graybill said. "Let's pull together so we might improve our regional prosperity."

"This is a plan that serves no one well and everyone poorly," said resident Stan Smith. He suggested Anderson had a conflict of interest in requesting this matter for the council's agenda, because she sits on the Sound Transit board.

Prior to voting, Councilmember Tom Stenger criticized RTID. He said it lacked representation of local cities. "It was a secret, backroom process. The deal was already there."

Stenger said Tacoma residents will pay $400 million in taxes for the measure, for $40 million worth of improvements within the city. Tacoma taxpayers are being asked to subsidize suburban sprawl, he said. "Anyone who supports this from Tacoma should be ashamed."

Anderson noted there is not unanimous support for Prop 1 on the council. "That is the whole idea. I think it is important for elected officials to take a stand, one way or another. Give me another plan to vote on. We don't have one."

The measure passed 6-1, with Stenger casting the dissenting vote. Mayor Bill Baarsma was absent. Councilmember Mike Lonergan abstained from voting, which is common for him in such matters.

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