Claudia Balducci stands next to a Sound Transit bus. (King County Council)

The Urbanist’s monthly meetup at 6:30pm on Tuesday, May 10th will feature King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci, who exemplifies urbanist vision and leadership in action. We’re excited for our talk Tuesday night to delve into the countywide policy initiatives on deck in the coming years, including affordable housing, missing middle zoning reform, and frequent transit expansion. Register below for the Zoom link and suggest a question. You can also watch the video after the fact.

A County Councilmember since 2016, Balducci was elected to chair the King County Council in 2020. She chairs Sound Transit’s System Expansion Committee, serves as president of the Puget Sound Regional Council, and co-chairs the County’s Affordable Housing Committee, which is seeking to unite the region around bold action to address the housing affordability crisis. In her role on the Sound Transit Board, Balducci was instrumental in averting big delays to transit projects after pandemic disruptions and escalating costs stretched budgets.

The breadth of her leadership roles across the region also make her ideally suited to impact change on a number of fronts. What alignments will get chosen for Sound Transit 3 (ST3) light rail extensions? Do the stations really need to be as deep as the agency says? Will the agency be able to deliver projects on time? Will the region step up and build its way out of its shortage of affordable housing? Could high speed rail connect Cascadia and complement local transit service? Is the County seriously pursuing a publicly-owned concrete plant to provide a more reliable supply in the wake of a lengthy concrete stoppage in the region? We’ll examine these issues in our chat.

Before her serving on County Council, Balducci was Mayor of Bellevue and served on the Bellevue City Council starting in 2004. She graduated from the Columbia University School of Law and worked as a labor negotiator. Her biography on her Council page notes, “Claudia first became active in civic life when she joined her neighbors to advocate for the revitalization of her local shopping center in the Lake Hills community of Bellevue.”

A link light rail train stops at the Bellevue Downtown Station platform as part of the clearance testing in November 2021. East Link’s opening is delayed to a number of issues ranging from construction defects to a concrete labor stoppage. (Sound Transit)

As an elected official, Balducci fought for several years to ensure regional light rail would come to the Eastside (unfortunately land use changes near stations have been relatively timid and the opening has been delayed several months). In 2016, Balducci was recognized as a “Transit Hero” to the Transportation Choices Coalition’s Hall of Fame for her tireless work to provide safe, reliable and equitable transit service throughout King County and beyond. Without Balducci, the regional transportation plan that the four-county Puget Sound Regional Council is set to adopt this month would likely look much less ambitious.

We’re excited to discuss that impressive body of work and what it’ll take to keep building momentum. The meetup starts at 6:25pm with announcements and Balducci will give a brief presentation at 6:30pm before taking questions from our moderator, including those selected from the registration form and the chat. We hope you can join us!

Watch the video of our talk below:

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Doug Trumm is publisher of The Urbanist. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington in 2019. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.