According to District 4 candidate Alex Pedersen, he's all for transit. But his voting record says otherwise.
Pedersen, who failed to show up and explain his positions at a June candidate forum hosted by the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) group, has come under fire for voting against the Move Seattle Levy in 2015 and Sound Transit 3 (ST3) in 2016.
Both measures were transit-focused. Pedersen penned multiple blog posts on his since-deleted neighborhood blog ("4 to Explore") that outlined a position against the levies.
A new piece by the Urbanist walks through Pedersen's history on transit-related issues and pits it against his public-facing policies.
At a D4 candidate forum last week, Pedersen demonstrated the line he's walking—or, maybe, straddling.
Pedersen tried to have it both ways, saying he supported the Bicycle Master Plan, but that is was a “living document” to be litigated street by street–suggesting business owner and homeowner pushback should weigh heavily in decisions.
He told The Stranger during a recent bike ride on a certain notorious
speedway thoroughfare that the reason he opposed ST3 wasn't because he's transit averse—Pedersen is an avid bus rider—but because “the policy analyst in me thought they could have crafted it in a more fair way with more bus service."
He echoed that sentiment on his campaign website's recently-added transportation policy page, where he gives airtime to some of the criticisms against him and defends himself: “I wished the policymakers would have crafted proposals that were more cost-effective, less regressive, more accountable — and with more buses," Pedersen wrote.
His big gripe about ST3, according to Pedersen, was that it was too much money and was going to exhaust the Seattle voter. He believed that corporations like Redmond-based Microsoft should have chipped in more. That kind of progressive taxation doesn't sound like the Pedersen we have today:
“The argument that Pedersen used to justify his opposition to ST3 was that progressive taxation would be better than the financing package ST3 used. However, given Pedersen’s opposition to the Employee Hours Tax (a.k.a., head tax), which targets Seattle’s large employers, it’s hard to see that as a consistent principle of his.”
So, if given the opportunity to, say, vote on ST4 as a council member, would Chamber of Commerce-backed Pedersen rely on progressive taxation?
"It depends," he told The Stranger. “If there are routes clearly benefiting corporations, then we could make a compelling argument and they could chip in more.”
As far as the Urbanist article goes, Pedersen said in an email that he "glanced at that thing from 'The Urbanist' and I take issue with calling it an 'article' — it's an opinion piece from someone who donated to my opponent. I believe we need less rhetoric and more results. I've recently released a detailed transportation and climate platform on my website which should be helpful when viewed in its entirety."
On our bike ride, which you will be able to read more about on Wednesday, Pedersen mentioned that "the advocates" for ST3 "were right." After all, he rides light rail—but only in the summer. During the school year, when he needs to drop his kids off at school, he drives to work.