Though there were still absentee ballots to be counted late Tuesday night as we went to press--and the results won't be certified by the county for 20 days--monorail supporters were confident.
"We're gonna win," Elevated Transportation Company (ETC) board member Cindi Laws declared early in the evening, even as early returns had the monorail down by 10 points. A too-loud '60s cover band blared in the background and 300-plus folks (including Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels' right-hand man, Marco Lowe; City Council Member Jan Drago; and visibly nervous monorail leaders Tom Weeks, Joel Horn, Peter Sherwin, and Daniel Malarkey) crowded into the Carpenter's Hall in Belltown. Laws lead the crowd in chanting "We're gonna win!" when the numbers started trending the monorail's way at around 9:40 p.m.
The Citizens Against the Monorail party, held in a claustrophobic room on the fifth floor of the Newmark condos on Second and Pike, was a decidedly lower-key affair, with only about 25 people in attendance.
"Are you Josh Feit?" barked Henry Aronson, lead anti-monorail campaigner, at the Stranger reporter who drew the short straw and had to attend the anti-monorail party. "You tell that feckless little fuck that I think he's dishonest," Aronson said of The Stranger's news editor.
At 11 p.m. the monorail's lead widened, opening up its late-night 52 to 48 lead. The crowd at the ETC's monorail party went beserk. The spokespeople played their hopeful hand.
"We're going be counting longer than we want to be counting," said lead monorail campaigner Peter Sherwin, "but I'm cautiously optimistic. We've waited five years, and we may have to wait a couple more weeks for the absentees to be tallied."
If the outstanding vote breaks the way the polling did, which late ballots have done in recent elections, voters will have sent a message to political leaders that they want rapid transit--not buses or light rail trains stuck in traffic. Frustrated Seattle commuters know the monorail won't eliminate gridlock, but it will give them a way to opt out. By 2007, commuters along the monorail's 14-mile route will be able to hop on a train and jet to their destinations. And forget Sound Transit's light rail trains to nowhere: Voters may have killed Sound Transit on Tuesday night by approving Tim Eyman's latest initiative, I-776.
Over at the anti-monorail party--which featured a rather skimpy spread, by the way, featuring only one bowl of chips, one bowl of salsa, and one bowl of pretzels--the "crowd" dropped to about 12 people when the monorail pulled ahead. Aronson leaned against the arm of a chair, a scowl on his face.
"I remain cautiously optimistic," Aronson said, echoing Sherwin, but looking defeated.