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Meet Your New Sound Transit Board!

By Erica C. Barnett October 26, 2009


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As PubliCola noted last week, the King County Executive appoints 10 of the Sound Transit board's 18 members. The board oversees transit policy in the three-county Sound Transit region.

So who might those board members be if light-rail opponent Susan Hutchison is elected? Hutchison's spokesman Jordan McCarren did not responded to an email asking that question, but here are some educated guesses.

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1) Kemper Freeman. The Bellevue developer and longtime light-rail opponent, who famously appeared in an anti-light rail commercial that called transit a "socialist" program, is a plaintiff in the lawsuit to prevent light rail from coming across I-90. Freeman's company, Kemper Holdings, gave $25,000 to the King County Leadership Fund (which ran the infamous ads trashing Hutchison's opponent Dow Constantine) and another $10,000 to the Eastside Business Alliance, which opposes light rail and also contributed to the King County Leadership Fund.

He and his wife Betty have given $1,600 to Hutchison.

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2) George "Skip" Rowley. Rowley, an Issaquah developer and major Republican donor, has said he will only give money to candidates who support road expansion, not light rail. Rowley and his company, Rowley Properties, has donated $28,000 to the Eastside Business Alliance.

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3) Bruce McCaw. McCaw, a cell-phone magnate and big financial supporter of Susan Hutchison's, was a major ($10,000) donor to last year's anti-light-rail campaign. He and his wife Jolene have given $25,000 to the King County Leadership Fund; his company also owns the luxury house in Laurelhurst where Hutchison has her campaign headquarters.

The McCaws have given $1,600 to Hutchison.

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4) Martin Selig. Selig, a Seattle real-estate developer, is best known for pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the 2004 anti-monorail campaign. He's given $10,000 to the King County Leadership Fund.

Selig has given $800 to Hutchison.

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5) Michael Ennis. Ennis is the Director of the Center for Transportation at the Washington Policy Center, an anti-light-rail right-wing think tank. Although neither Ennis nor the WPC have donated to Hutchison or the groups that are helping her, the ties between Hutchison and the WPC are deep. The organization she heads, the Charles Simonyi Foundation, donated $100,000 to the WPC's Center for the Environment, which fights environmental regulations and questions global warming. Hutchison has also praised a book by the WPC that she has said "makes you smart"; the book proposing cutting the minimum wage, raising class sizes, and stopping light rail. And she's been a big supporter of the WPC in other ways, introducing Republicans like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

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6) Mark Baerwaldt. Baerwaldt is one of the region's primary opponents of light rail. Since the early 2000s, he has made fighting light rail his primary political mission—heading up the anti-rail group Sane Transit, fighting at-grade rail in the Rainier Valley, and serving as treasurer for the anti-light-rail No to Prop. 1 campaign last year. He hasn't given to Hutchison or the groups supporting her, but we think he'd make an invaluable addition to her anti-light-rail light-rail board.

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7) Rob McKenna. Although the Republican attorney general does not contribute to candidates, he has been a vocal supporter of Hutchison, and has called her refusal to state a party affiliation a "red herring." A member of the Sound Transit board until 2001, McKenna was one of the region's staunchest opponents of the light rail system that is now under construction.

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8) Sarah Rindlaub. Rindlaub, a Washington Policy Center board member,  is among those suing to stop Sound Transit from moving forward on the Eastside. And as the only woman in the group, she provides a needed dose of diversity to our hypothetical Susan Hutchison slate.

Rindlaub and her husband have given $1,600 to Hutchison.

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9) Jim Horn. The former state senator (R-41) has long fancied himself a leading thinker on transportation. He likes highways, opposes tolls, and thinks Mercer Island, where he lives, would be better served by roads than transit. A longtime opponent of running light rail across I-90, Horn also appears on the list of plaintiffs suing to stop Sound Transit from going to the Eastside.

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10) Bruce Agnew. Agnew is head of the Cascadia Center for Regional Development for the Discovery Center, on whose board Hutchison served until late 2007. Agnew has proposed replacing light rail on I-90 with HOV lanes and buses, and has suggested that the Eastside could solve its transportation problems by synchronizing lights and creating public-private partnerships between companies and local governments—no light rail required.

Agnew has given $100 to Hutchison.

And of course, if any of those falls through, there's always...

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11) Former Arkansas Gov. and noted transit expert Mike Huckabee! Hutchison gave $500 to Huckabee's 2008 Presidential campaign.
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