Say what you will about Nick Licata, the man isn't known for his political subtlety. Currently unopposed in his reelection bid but flanked on all sides by potential competitors, Licata seized an opportunity last week to make a few more powerful enemies, recruiting volunteers to hand out green flyers blaring, "Your future bus service may be compromised!" at bus stops throughout the city. The warning referred to future Metro bus hours that could be diverted to the controversial South Lake Union streetcar the council approved on Monday, eroding citywide transit service to serve a single neighborhood. On Monday, Licata proposed a modest amendment to the streetcar legislation that would have required the city to "evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency" of the streetcar before dedicating limited future Metro dollars to its operation. As expected, that amendment failed, leaving the two-term incumbent open to charges that he is unreasonable, uncompromising, and worst of all, an activist.
Whether that will be enough to convince a back-of-the-pack contender in one of the other crowded council contests to jump into Licata's race remains unclear, but Richard McIver opponent Robert Rosencrantz, a third-place finisher in 2003, must be feeling the pressure now that strong contender Dwight Pelz has turned the Rosencrantz-McIver lineup into a three-way race. Landlord Rosencrantz has always struck a stronger contrast with former commune resident Licata than with the relatively conservative McIver. Another third-place primary finish could quash his political potential for good.
Rosencrantz himself remains something of a political enigma. (Plus, with his milky-lensed glasses and gaunt physique, the man's a little creepy.) A former janitor who bootstrapped his way up to manage four Seattle apartment buildings, Rosencrantz has escaped political pigeonholing by evading questions on litmus-test issues like civility laws and abortion. On a recent candidate questionnaire issued by the King County Democrats, Rosencrantz gave a "qualified" response to the question "Do you support a woman's right to choose?"—noting at the bottom of the form that "abortion laws are made at the state and federal level," not by the city council.
Rosencrantz did take a strong position on the increasingly untenable monorail proposal Monday, calling for a rebid on the now $11 billion project. He's joined in his skepticism by both critics and onetime monorail proponents, including Council Members Peter Steinbrueck and Licata. Last week, council members received hundreds of e-mails from constituents calling for them to pull the plug on the project. Steinbrueck says he will likely propose expanding the scope of the council's financial review of the monorail to include "not just finances but whether we're getting what we thought we were getting." As Steinbrueck put it Friday, "People just think this has gone into the realm of insanity." His colleague, monorail committee member Licata, adds: "In a way, I'm disappointed that [the agency] would even present this kind of package, because it potentially ruins the credibility of the whole project." ■