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SCAT Signatures Fall Short; Campaign Will Remain Separate from Anti-Tunnel Referendum Campaign

By Erica C. Barnett March 11, 2011

Seattle Citizens Against the Tunnel---a pro-rebuild group that filed the original anti-tunnel initiative, which would theoretically prohibit construction of the deep-bore tunnel---has failed to collect the required 20,629 valid signatures in support of its initiative and will have 20 days to collect the remaining 1,600 or so signatures. SCAT and another anti-tunnel group, Move Seattle Smarter, recently joined forces to co-found a new group called Protect Seattle Now, which is pushing an anti-tunnel referendum.

Elizabeth Campbell, spokeswoman for the pro-rebuild group, says that despite the fact that SCAT and Move Seattle Smarter have formed a separate new group to push the anti-tunnel referendum (which would overturn three tunnel agreements between the city and the state), her group will continue to gather signatures for its proposal that would bar tunnel construction on the waterfront.

"We have 20 days in the bank to collect additional signatures," Campbell says, adding that SCAT and Move Seattle Smarter "have agreed that our greater common interests in protecting Seattle as it relates to the deep-bore tunnel exceed our differences." SCAT supports a rebuilt Alaskan Way Viaduct; Move Seattle Smarter supported the surface/transit/I-5 option.

Asked whether the existence of two separate anti-tunnel measures would compromise Protect Seattle Now's ability to raise money or make it harder for the new group to promote its message, PSN spokesman Drew Paxton said, "We don't feel too concerned. We still have very like-minded goals, and we've been relying on separate donor sources. I don't think there's cause for concern."

King County Elections spokeswoman Katie Gilliam says the elections department has about 3,300 signatures to verify, and SCAT needs about 3,600 more valid signatures to get its measure on the ballot. Gilliam says SCAT's 30-percent-invalid rate is slightly higher than the usual 23 to 25 percent, due in part to duplicate signatures and in part to the fact that many of those who signed SCAT's petitions live outside Seattle.
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