At high noon today Roosevelt-based safe streets advocate Andres Salomon announced he’s running for mayor, becoming the first credible person to challenge incumbent Mayor Ed Murray.

Salomon’s campaign has identified four main issues: transportation, housing, policing, and technology-particularly municipal broadband. On transportation, his campaign will make road safety and Vision Zero a major issue: “I’m running for Mayor to make safe streets a priority for our city.”

“[Mayor Murray] has been very weak on walking and biking issues,” Salomon said. “We continue to have people dying in the streets, and his staff doesn’t even bother to show up to memorial walks.”

Salomon has been active in the urbanist community. He founded NE Seattle Greenways, has contributed on the Seattle Bike Blog and published a few articles here at The Urbanist. Salomon has been a vocal leader in the #Fix65th campaign to improve the street design on NE 65th St. The City recently announced it would begin the process of planning a safer NE 65th in 2017; although, it’s unclear if the city will implement the four to three lane conversion that Seattle Neighborhood Greenways favors or go the course of more superficial improvements.

The conventional wisdom is that defeating Mayor Murray will be very difficult because of his fundraising advantage. Murray significantly outraised Mike McGinn when he unseated him in 2013. Salomon is starting the race relatively late and will almost certainly lag far behind in campaign cash.

Nonetheless, some openings still exist for Salomon to exploit.

A Multimodal Mayor In The Making?

In Murray’s 2013 campaign, The Stranger asked Is Ed Murray Running To Be The Anti-Bike-Lane Mayor? The headline may have been sensational but Murray has certainly caused consternation in the bicycling community as he has slow-walked many projects and planning efforts, including the Bike Master Plan itself. The biggest bicycle infrastructure achievement during Murray’s tenure–the Westlake Cycletrack–was planned under previous mayor Mike McGinn, who was much more vocally pro-bike, sometimes to his perceived detriment.

The Andres Salomon campaign/family vehicle, loaded with lemonade and tamales. (Photo by author)
Salomon provided this graphic as an illustration of his priorities for Seattle street space. (Andres4Mayor)

To jumpstart safe biking infrastructure, Salomon has pledged to support the Basic Bike Network that Cascade Bicycle Club and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways have suggested as a stopgap for pressing safety needs Downtown. Completing the Basic Bike Network within four years would be very doable, Salomon said, and he also wants to improve the network across the city, not just Downtown. Salomon suggested a re-prioritization of street space is needed. “We need to focus on moving people, and not cars.”

“Just focusing on biking doesn’t work; we have the example of a bike lane being built on Dearborn [Street] where there’s no sidewalk next to it,” Salomon said. “What’s going to happen is that people are just going to walk on the bike lanes. We really need to focus on all modes and realize it’s not just one versus the other but that everybody is trying to get somewhere.”

Welcoming Housing Policies

Salomon said he wants to live in a safe, welcoming city and suggested declaring Seattle a sanctuary city like Mayor Murray has done must be backed up with policies to ensure newcomers can afford to live here. Salomon’s background–he immigrated from Ecuador at age three and his wife came as a refugee from the former Soviet Union when she was five–make him a compelling spokesperson for city seeking to reaffirm its multi-cultural identity in opposition to Trumpism, he argued.

To moderate the cost of housing, Salomon wants to get rid of parking minimums and relax zoning restrictions to stimulate housing production, particularly “missing middle” housing like rowhouses, stacked flats, small apartment buildings, and backyard cottages.

A group of friends and supporters turned out to cheer on Salomon.

Municipal Broadband

Salomon voiced support for implementing municipal internet: “We Seattleites deserve to have Internet access and governance that is on-par with the tech city that we claim to be,” Salomon wrote. “Let’s build municipal internet.”

In contrast, Mayor Murray opposed municipal broadband in favor of that neoliberal unicorn of a private-public partnership. Municipal broadband would be too expensive, Murray argued. “The study that Murray mentioned determined that Seattle could construct a high speed network using a combination of property taxes and user fees for $440 million.” Ansel Herz reported last May. “The mayor—who received big donations from Comcast and CenturyLink during his last campaign—simply lacks the political will to advocate for building such a network at this time.”

Policing The Police

On policing, Salomon has vowed to scrap plans to build the $149 million North Precinct building and to work with King County to shrink the size of its planned youth jail in the Central District. Salomon has promised to implement stronger police accountability measures: “As Mayor, I will expediently implement promising new legislation on the issue of citizen oversight.”

Ironically, as Salomon announced his campaign with police reform as a pillar, most of the City Hall press corps was not at his announcement but at Mayor Murray’s simultaneous press conference Downtown regarding a police accountability bill, which the Mayor said would restore trust in the police, apparently.

To learn more, check out Salomon’s campaign website.

Let Us Build Backyard Cottages

 

11 COMMENTS

  1. Overall I’m a fan of mayor Murray… though I agree he has dropped the ball the bicycle network. It also feels like a lot of his initiatives have gotten bogged down in Seattle process and haven’t materialized. Rezones still haven’t passed…

    I think we need improvements to the city’s bicycle infrastructure, but Andres needs to realize bicycling isn’t the #1 priority of most Seattleites. Putting bicycling ahead of transit especially is a big mistake.

    Also, the biggest weakness of this new guy’s campaign… he’s running for mayor of a major city before he’s run for any other kind of public office. That’s kind of like applying to be CEO of Microsoft as your first job out of college.

    Maybe his goal is to debate Murray and ask him pointed questions about why bicycling initiatives have fallen by the wayside.

    • Thanks for the input. The reason bicycles come before transit is because bike infrastructure is cheaper, and the needs are greater. If you create a road that is optimized for transit but sub-optimal for bikes, people die. If you create a road that is optimized for bikes but sub-optimal for transit, people are delayed a little bit. Safety needs on our roadways are non-negotiable.

      That being said, there’s typically no need to pit bikes vs transit. Usually when we’re arguing about bikes vs transit, it’s because we decided that on-street parking was too important to remove, so bikes and transit are left fighting for scraps. We need to flip that assumption.

      • I do like your idea for more “missing middle” housing. Town homes and duplexes are clearly in high demand, so we should zone more space for them. I’ve lived in a duplex before and liked that setup.

        I think housing is probably most people’s top priority. Most people in the city are paying out the nose for rent, so if you can have a credible plan to lower the average rent, that would be huge. Murray has pushed “affordable housing.” The problem with that is most voters aren’t eligible for it. Opening up the single family zones could potentially flood the market and reduce rents across the board.

      • I would argue that we are assigning far too much importance to having multiple general purpose lanes. On street parking is vital for creating a comfortable and safe space for pedestrians. If you were to get rid of on street parking in favor of having a second general purpose lane along with a bike lane, then you have very little in the way protection for pedestrians (and cyclists) if a vehicle loses control and veers towards the sidewalk.

        That said, when and where can I donate?

        • Certainly! I was trying to provide a short answer, but there’s a lot of underlying complexity that I didn’t get into. How are you protecting that bike lane? Is it flex posts, concrete planters, or jersey barriers (which will do a good job of stopping cars)? Why did we keep two general purpose travel lanes on Roosevelt Way while removing a lane of parking (which angered quite a few businesses) instead of keeping both parking lanes and removing a travel lane?

          Please see this page for donation information: https://andres4mayor.com/donate-2/

          • My preferred alignment is the design where you have the parking lane abut the GP lane with the bike lane sandwiched between the parking lane and sidewalk, though I understand that is only applicable in certain situations. I’d like to see better education regarding respecting cyclists (like mandating the teaching of opening the driver’s side door with your right hand) as well as adjusting signal timing to allow for both pedestrians and cyclists to establish themselves in intersections before vehicle travel lanes are given the green light (or you know ban right turn on red). My only explanation for Roosevelt was that the designers listened to traffic engineers following an outdated method of evaluating road efficiency instead of listening to city planners.

  2. Same old, same old selection of buzz phrases and focus areas. They may have a few different things on their plates but this gentleman and Mayor Murray are ordering off the same menu.

    Is it humanly possible for anyone to be for expanded transit, effective housing affordability policy, compassion for immigrants/refugees AND acknowledge that police are not automatically the enemy when they are well-trained (which we MUST ensure happens)?

    We are down 300 officers in this city, the North Precinct needs more office space (totally agree that the proposed mega-building was/is ridiculous), residents are having packages and personal property picked off at nation-leading rates and quality of life crimes are happening with ever-greater frequency (I might as well put a bathroom and a sharps container in my garden given all I find there). It’s damn hard to cheer for bike lanes when one’s bike keeps getting stolen.

    All things considered, I’ll hold my nose and stick with Murray.

    • My wife’s bike was stolen a few months ago. We had a stroller stolen off of our front porch 2 years ago. I understand the frustration with property crimes, but those are a symptom of underlying issues of poverty and substance addiction. It would be more humane AND cheaper to treat those root causes. We can do that, we just need the political willpower to do so.

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