Once the BIG race for the White House was called, Seattle-area voters turned their attention to that other Washington. Here are some key races in Washington state and a look at what the election results could mean for the environment:
Governor: Christine Gregoire
The governor’s race was a close one again this year (it was decided by just 129 votes in 2004), but major news networks began calling it for Gregoire, the Democratic incumbent, before the night was over.
Gregoire lists as one of her top goals “creating a cleaner future.” To that end, she has made a number of moves to cut the state’s greenhouse-gas emissions. In addition to pushing forward progressive renewable-energy legislation and adopting California’s strict auto-emissions standards in 2007, she called for drastic cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions and per-capita vehicle miles by 2050. Gregoire has also been a champion of the region’s Puget Sound, creating a partnership between communities, businessfolk, native tribes, and enviros to restore habitat and reduce pollution.
Statewide Ballot Initiative 985: NO
The Washington Reduce Traffic Congestion initiative [PDF] failed to pass — a failure enviros consider success. The initiative would have opened the HOV lanes to all traffic during rush hour, meaning transit-users and carpoolers wouldn’t be rewarded with a fast lane. It also called for money to be put toward the construction of new highways — but not public transit, bike paths, or other “anti-car” measures.
Sound Transit Proposition 1: YES
In contrast to Initiative 985, this proposition — up for approval by just three counties (King, Snohomish, and Pierce) — is focused on the mass-transit end of the transportation spectrum. The $18 billion (generated by an increased sales tax) will go toward increasing express bus service, especially on high-demand routes, and expanding the region’s commuter rail. And not a penny will go to putting down new pavement.
Pike Place Market and Parks levies: YES
Seattlites also voted to put monies toward the city’s historic farmers market (yes, the place where they throw the fish) and the creation of new parks and green spaces throughout the city. Enviros cheer these efforts to make the city more livable while at the same time helping restore habitats throughout the area.