Election recap: Metro measure loses, Wheeler wins, and Nolan grabs Metro council seat

He’s back.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The establishment had a good night last night in Portland politics and the outlook for serious transportation reform took a hit as voters opted for a shift to the center.

Metro’s $5 billion funding measure lost by 14 points, earning just 43% support. Incumbent City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly was unseated handily by newcomer Mingus Mapps, Ted Wheeler beat Sarah Iannarone by under 20,000 votes, and the race for Metro Council District 5 wasn’t even close with veteran Democrat establishment politician Mary Nolan beating policy wonk Chris Smith 62% to 37%.

Here’s a bit more about the key races we were watching…

Metro 26-218

“Yes” is brown.

Local transportation advocacy insiders spent well over three years debating and crafting a regional funding measure that would be bold enough to move the needle, yet be palatable enough to actually pass. The “Get Moving 2020” package was ultimately developed by a very large and diverse coalition of interest groups. Unfortunately it failed to generate widespread enthusiasm — with people on the right and left of the political spectrum finding reasons to vote against it. Many transportation activists were disappointed the package didn’t do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and were skeptical of spending $1 billion on a new MAX line that doesn’t do enough to discourage driving. At the same time, business interests (falsely) claimed the tax would hurt businesses already struggling due to the pandemic. Nike and Intel spent record amounts to defeat the measure.

This is a big blow to Metro Council President Lynn Peterson. In a statement last night she said she was “disappointed”. “An incredible amount of community work, over the course of years, went into shaping the projects and programs in this measure… We are not giving up on it. We need to move forward as a region. We’re going to keep growing. Safe, reliable transportation remains a regional challenge that we must address together – doing nothing is not an option.”

On Twitter last night, PBOT said work on the measure won’t be for nothing: “The project list and outreach through this effort set us up to compete well in the event of federal investment in economic stimulus.”

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Wheeler gets second term

(Source: Multnomah County)
Iannarone is purple.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler squeaked out a win with less than 50% of the vote, beating Sarah Iannarone by 5 points. With just over 80% of all votes tallied, Wheeler has just less than 20,000 more votes than Iannarone. Write-in candidates — a majority of which likely went to racial justice activist Teressa Raiford — received 13%, or about 46,000 votes.

Wheeler’s re-election makes him the first two-term Mayor in twenty years. He fought off months of severe criticisms over his handling of the nightly protests and an impressive grassroots campaign from Iannarone, a relative newcomer who has never held public office. Iannarone, who gets around primarily on an electric bike, is a member of the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee, and who enjoyed major support from biking, walking and transit activists, wasn’t able to expand her support in precincts west of the Willamette River or in outer east Portland.

Metro District 5 (N/NE Portland)

Few local leaders and policymakers are as well-liked in transportation circles as Chris Smith. He ran an inspiring campaign but in the end failed to win any precincts and garnered only 37% of the vote. Smith ran a campaign fueled by small donors and promised to make climate change his raison d’etre. “We got to run exactly the type of campaign we wanted to run,” Smith said last night during a Facebook Live campaign event. “I wanted to test the idea that climate could be a winning local issue and the second big thing was that we didn’t want to take big money to make it work.”

Mary Nolan is an experienced politician with a network of high-dollar donors. She received funding from realtor and fracked gas lobbyists, has supported freeway expansions, and said during a debate last month that it’s time to “reconsider” the urban growth boundary.

What are your takeaways from last night?

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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citylover
citylover
2 years ago

I think the Metro measure would have passed if not for Covid. We have had tremendous success over the years funding transportation at the state and regional level and we should celebrate that. With so many people out of work and businesses closing, voters and taxpayers have to prioritize what we can support and school modernization, universal Pre-K, parks and libraries (and homelessness relief in 2018) is where we chose to put our dollars. We can’t do it all, especially not with the broken taxing system that we have in Oregon. More than anything Commish Eudaly did to ease burdens for renters, meaningful funding for affordable housing is really only possible via a real estate transfer tax. Unfortunately it’s a constitutional amendment.

As a relatively new participant in this space (though a longtime PDX resident), I have seen a lot of bashing ODOT occur here. While I recognize that the agency has its issues, I don’t think disparaging ODOT wholesale is very helpful. In my years in land use & transportation planning and bike/ped advocacy, the joint ODOT/DLCD transportation growth management program that funds all sorts of community projects is really a gold standard nationally. Only a small handful of states (MA, VT, NY)invest in connecting land use and transportation like we do here.

LASM
LASM
2 years ago

Best succinct analysis I’ve seen yet of the measure failure.

cmh89
cmh89
2 years ago

Pro-tip for Metro: Instead of inviting the usual suspects to the table and calling it community input, actually engage with the community. You know, real people, not politicians and NGO leaders.

David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  cmh89

I agree, but will those unpaid community members actually show up, especially if Metro has meetings at the usual time and day with coffee and stale cookies, a weekday morning or afternoon when normal people work? It’s only paid staff from NGOs and politicians who can show up at 10 am on a Tuesday at the old Sears at Grand and Lloyd, not to mention drive the distance to get to it. Matro needs to do what EPAP routinely does for their meetings: Weekday evening meetings with a free catered dinner for 70, free child care, and free onsite live language interpretation in Spanish and Arabic (precovid).

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I actually think they prefer working with people from the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. When everyone is on the same gravy train, it’s easier to move things along.

David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Plus they often went to school with one another, hang out and share gossip about common friends at PBOT and BPS, and the latest on the president’s craziness. I mean, who needs to hear from the public? All they complain about is high taxes, too much traffic in their neighborhoods, wanting more freeways, and not enough car parking within 5 feet of their workplace entrance anyway.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Maybe they should try handing out contracts to members of the public. Greasing the machine can dampen the squeaks. It worked for the BTA — why not for the rest of us complainers?

David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Not only BTA (aka Street Trust), but also PBA, Columbia Corridor, and many other lobbying nonprofits. I have also seen city agencies pay stipends and scholarships to individuals who are members of under-represented communities of color, especially Asian minorities, to attend committees, focus groups, and conferences. I myself was once paid cash to attend a Canadian academic conference, a token American if you will.

I think we as a society undervalue the usefulness of bribes and corruption at getting to the truth of what we seek when we ask for public input. As a poor unemployed circumferentially-challenged over-educated privileged bicycle-dependent white American, I do wish I was bribed more significantly for my public input.

Kittens
Kittens
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I **honestly** think they should just cut it with advisory boards, commissions and steering committees rigamarole. Who has time for that anyway. Just make it great and trust the experts. The compromises required to buy everyone off just end up getting in the way of the larger good. Everyone gets their pet issue addressed and in the end the public is left with garbage. See: Yellow Line, Green Line, Orange Line. All horribly compromised to the point of near uselessness.

David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  Kittens

Experts like ODOT…

Kittens
Kittens
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Good point David. I assume a level of competence severely lacking at ODOT.

cmh89
cmh89
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

The last time I engaged with Metro outside of online, which will be bias towards wealthy, white advocates, is when I stumbled onto some event they were having at the downtown Multnomah County library. They were showing off proposed bus service changes in Washington County, east county and North Portland…in downtown…on a Tuesday…at 1 pm. They are terrible at engagement.

It’s like the BAC. When you meet at 6pm downtown on a Tuesday you are inherently excluding most working class Portlanders.

Hippodamus
Hippodamus
2 years ago
Reply to  cmh89

Planning professional here. I hear this criticism a lot. I’m interested in listening.

What time do you think would be good if our ‘typical’ times are bad? I often have weekday evening meetings for projects and I agree they aren’t convenient for everyone. I think weekends are problematic too (many working class people don’t have weekends off).

Also, at what cost would you support having multiple meetings in different places and potentially multiple times. Curious because I agree we could do better on engagement, but it’s VERY expensive and resources for projects are already kind of scarce and it is difficult for people who don’t do these projects to understand why a study can cost several million dollars.

Interested in genuine feedback.

Kittens
Kittens
2 years ago
Reply to  Hippodamus

You need to realize some people can’t afford any time not working or caring for kids, you are not going to get working class people engaged. Accept this or give up pretending the process is just and fair.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Kittens

And accept that most people just don’t care enough to participate, so you’ll always be hearing from a specific subset of the population. If you want to hear from everyone equally, put it on the ballot.

That said, midafternoon meetings seem particularly destined to fail, especially if so many folks continue to be working from home and are thus widely distributed.

cmh89
cmh89
2 years ago
Reply to  Hippodamus

I think there are a couple things wrong with how Metro/PBOT/ODOT do it.

1. Embrace Zoom. Being able to passively listen and attend meetings while they make dinner for your kids will allow more engagement.

2. Ask about fewer things at a time. Most people only care about transit/infrastructure projects that personally benefit them, which makes sense. Most people don’t care about infrastructure or transit policy. At the community event Metro was having folks go through a line and look at different projects and if they did that they’d get a gift card. Very few every day people are going to provide useful feedback for transit expansion in both Washington County and East Multnomah County. The line was full of homeless folks going through to get the gift card. Metro probably got no useful data.

3. I don’t know where Metro/PBOT/ODOT outreach. I see stuff from PBOT on NextDoor every once in a while which I think is pretty useful but I can’t recall ever seeing anything on a bus or MAX asking for my feedback about something. Worse is that these surveys exist and get shared around with advocates. I don’t blame JM at all for sharing surveys but its definitely going to skew your results if transit-positive people are over-sampled.

4. You might already do this but I’ve never seen it. Partner with libraries and other community centers to try and get more every day people to take online surveys.

5. The biggest thing is these agencies need to learn to stay in their lanes. Metro got together with all of the usual suspects and handed out pork. Every day people don’t think Metro should be in the business of building housing or modifying streets. The lack of specifics in this measure absolutely hurt it. Even here on BP the advocates were saying “Vote yes we can fix all the problems later” which is not where you want to be on a $5 billion measure. A measure that expanded bus service or electrified the buses could probably pass.

6. Metro needs to figure out how and why they came to the consensus that a LRT to Tigard was a good idea and then figure out how to make sure that never happens again. Every day people are not excited by a LRT to the suburbs.

citylover
citylover
2 years ago
Reply to  cmh89

This is honestly tongue and cheek, but my 13 year old daughter was excited about a MAX to Bridgeport Village but she may be the only one! Her rebellion at the moment is to say she’ll live in the burbs when she grows up.

David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  citylover

Soon after I moved to Portland in 1997, I remember overhearing two 10-year-old boys on the Blue MAX having an intelligent discussion of urban growth boundaries. It blew my mind.

David Hampsten
2 years ago

I find it interesting that those who most supported the Metro bond within Portland were those most likely to be impacted by the Rose Quarter project. What does this say about Portland residents?

Todd/Boulanger
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Perhaps they are tired of all the regional traffic choking their districts and looking for new options to move those driving SOVs on adjoining highways?

Eawriste
Eawriste
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

What evidence do you have of this?

David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  Eawriste

“Yes” is brown map, above.

Eawriste
Eawriste
2 years ago
Reply to  Eawriste

I would caution assuming causation with maps like these. Here is another. And another.

Eawriste
Eawriste
2 years ago
Reply to  Eawriste

“Neighborhoods most impacted environmentally and physically by the project were neighborhoods showing the strongest support.” The map includes areas in Sellwood/Moreland, Mt. Tabor, Foster-Powell, and the Northwest Hills. We could also say these are neighborhoods most impacted by gentrification, or with the highest support for bicycle or train infrastructure. If we switched the maps of support for Innarone and 218, would we still assume that those neighborhoods were most affected by the RQ project? Do you see the assumption then?

John Liu
John Liu
2 years ago

“The establishment had a good night last night in Portland politics and the outlook for serious transportation reform took a hit as voters opted for a shift to the center…Incumbent City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly was unseated handily by newcomer Mingus Mapps”

Again presenting Eudaly as the bike community’s choice.

I don’t think the Eudaly v Mapps race turned on bike issues, or on broader transportation issues. It mostly turned on voters’ reaction to Eudaly’s style, if you will, of governing, of which her concession statement was a reminder.

Also, I recall Mapps opposed the RQ project before Eudaly did.

John
John
2 years ago

How about “presenting Eudaly as the serious transportation reform community’s choice”?

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago

I agree with you on Iannarone and Smith, but Eudaly was not particularly progressive in the transportation department (especially not relating to bikes). The worst you can say about Mapps is that he’s a blank slate; he could well prove to be better. I am reasonably confident he will listen to his constituents, so I would certainly encourage everyone to let him know what you expect from him. And, regardless, Mapps seems an unlikely choice to head PBOT.

Let's Active
Let's Active
2 years ago

Wait, you say “it’s a fact” that Eudaly would lead to more progressive transportation policies than Mapps in an earlier comment above but then say that you think Mapps “could do great. But we don’t know…” right above. It is a little unfair to Mapps to say without doubt that Eudaly would be better. Time will tell in my opinion.

Chris
Chris
2 years ago

Do you think this is the end of the ‘Rose Lane’ projects? It sounds like this was Eudaly’s priority and the new PBOT commissioner may have other priorities.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago

Eudaly also resisted closing streets when it came to Covid and came pretty late to the Rose Quarter party (though she eventually did arrive, even if a bit too late). The Rose Lane project is, at this time, underwhelming (in the manner of all PBOT plans consisting primarily of lines on a map); when PBOT starts making hard decisions I’ll reassess. And you say Eudaly “prioritized” bicycling. Maybe, but I never saw that.

I don’t think Eudaly was bad on transportation; she was probably somewhere between “neutral” and “good”. But not “great”, and I certainly wouldn’t put her in the same category as Iannarone or Smith.

mh
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

The worst thing I can say about Mapps is that he jumped at the chance to ride the NIMBY neighborhood associations’ fury. Eudaly was trying to make it possible for other community groups to share the funding and benefits now reserved for NAs.

David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  mh

The money each NA actually receives from the city is a pittance, as most of the city funding goes to the 7 district coalition offices and their personnel (2 of which are city offices, NoPo and EPCO, the others are nonprofits). Any NA that has lots of funding (and there are a few) has got it through their own endeavors such as events, grants and donations. Unless the city ups their game, there is never enough to go around. The battles over NA funding are so fierce because the stakes are so low.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  mh

Eudaly could have easily achieved her goals had she chosen a less divisive course. Her failure is hers alone.

It’s also worth noting that a lot of people like their neighborhood association; if they didn’t, she would not have suffered blowback from needlessly attacking them.

John Liu
John Liu
2 years ago

I tend to use “bike community” as a more pronouncable term for “community interested in transportation reform”. I think that, especially when speaking among BP comment writers, that’s a reasonable shorthand term, and it trips off the tongue more easily.

I’ve been puzzled why you would deny that your BP posts have presented Eudaly as the better candidate for what I called the “bike community”. So, I tried restating my observation using the full phrase “community interested in transportation reform”. Worded that way, it seems to be a characterization you would accept: “The election clearly signals a bad night for reforming the status quo when it comes to transportation. It is a fact to say that Iannarone, Eudaly and Chris Smith would lead to much more reformed/progressive outcomes than Wheeler, Mapps and Nolan.”

So I’m still puzzled. Is your previous denial because you think saying a candidate is better for the “bike community” is actually different than saying a candidate is better for the “community interested in transportation reform”? Or do you think your prior posts did not in fact infer that Eudaly is better for that community?

I don’t actually think one candidate is (was) better than the other in that regard, in that particular race. I do agree there are big differences between the Metro candidates in that regard, and I’m surprised Smith didn’t win. On the Mayoral race, I’m not sure – it is hard to think of a progressive talking point that Iannarone *didn’t* include on her voluminous campaign platform, but who knows which of the dozens and dozens would actually have gotten serious attention, and results.

A rigged city in a rigged nation
A rigged city in a rigged nation
2 years ago

My take as someone who voted for Eudaly but wrote in people for the other positions.

Wheeler is still a republican whatever his more recent voter registration says.

Mingus Mapps appears to favor landlords, the police, and big business — all hallmarks of a republican pretending to be a democrat.

It’s actually Iannarone who was the centrist in that she is a friend of unfettered real estate development while allegedly supporting mildly progressive climate, transportation, and civil rights reforms.

Chloe Eudaly was moderately anti-establishment when it came to housing but was a mildly-progressive centrist when it came to climate, transportation, and civil rights reforms.

The only genuinely anti-establishment candidate lost to Wheeler and Iannorone.

cmh89
cmh89
2 years ago

Are you talking about the banker Raiford. Suuuppppeeerrr anti-establishment

A rigged city in a rigged nation
A rigged city in a rigged nation
2 years ago
Reply to  cmh89

Definitely anti-establishment as in not supported by any of the existing power-brokers or elected politicians.

cmh89
cmh89
2 years ago

She’s so anti-establishment that she’s not even supported by voters!

LK
LK
2 years ago

Raiford voted for Mapps over Eudaly, FYI. Not sure how that figures into your calculus of her being the only genuinely anti-establishment candidate.

A rigged city in a rigged nation
A rigged city in a rigged nation
2 years ago
Reply to  LK

It did figure into my vote and is one of the reasons that I did not writer her in. Also, this liberal thought pattern of assuming that poor people are ignorant and don’t vote in their best interests is probably one of the reasons that we don’t vote for your candidates.

mh
2 years ago
Reply to  LK

Advocate for ranked choice voting. My guess is that most of Raiford’s votes would have gone to Sarah. That disingenuous active but unofficial campaign made and still has me furious.

Ranked choice voting. No “spoiler” candidates – or in this case, noon-candidates.

Alan 1.0
2 years ago
Reply to  mh

I’ve been intrigued by RCV/STAR for decades, too. mh‘s comment got me to look up objections to it; who wouldn’t like it? Most of what I found I can dismiss as more hypothetical than practical, or a relatively minor detriment in an overall benefit. But Simon Waxman made a point I also agree with:

But there are reasons for skepticism when it comes to RCV—and not just RCV itself, but the larger notion that what is broken in American politics, and therefore what will fix it, is procedure.

(Nov 2016 in Democracy Journal)

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan 1.0

That’s a good quote. I few years ago, I read a whole book on voting systems, and the author’s conclusions were that the fairest, least “strategic”, best overall voting system was rating each candidate from 1-10, depending on how well you like them. They called it the “Hot or Not” system, for those of you who remember the internet circa 2000.

Damien
Damien
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

AKA, range or score voting. Which – to second Alan’s mention above – STAR includes, but also has an instant run-off round, which incentivizes giving candidates different rankings unless you really don’t care.

STAR voting is…*really* good. I plan on bringing it up often and loudly during the city charter review. While the quote above about thinking procedure alone will solve our woes is a good one, a better procedure would certainly better enable us to solve our woes. Imagine not needing a primary at all and having no such thing as a spoiler? Imagine fifteen candidates running for one seat and actually being able to weigh in on all of them, instead of only one as with plurality voting? Imagine a system that incentivizes a candidate to run *for* something, because running against someone else isn’t advantageous outside of zero-sum binary choices?

A quick skim of the gaming video doesn’t look like it tackles STAR, but I would be mighty curious to see it gamed.

SD
SD
2 years ago

Congrats on electing Wheeler.

Chris I
Chris I
2 years ago
Reply to  SD

Apparently, “I voted for a non-viable candidate who wasn’t running instead of the leftist who aligned more with me values” equals a rigged election when the centrist then beats the leftist.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris I

— self-deleting comment due to misreading parent —

A rigged city in a rigged nation
A rigged city in a rigged nation
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris I

FWIW, I wrote in Abdullah Öcalan (google him).

SD
SD
2 years ago

Very interesting, what I hear you saying is “I voted for Ted Wheeler in a very clever way.”

A rigged city in a rigged nation
A rigged city in a rigged nation
2 years ago
Reply to  SD

I did not vote for Wheeler in 2016 or in 2020 but a random internet person who probably voted for Wheeler in 2016 still blames me for Wheeler’s re-election.

PTB
PTB
2 years ago

Why?

Rigged city in a rigged nation
Rigged city in a rigged nation
2 years ago
Reply to  SD

Wheeler vs Iannarone was kind of a meh for me. I did not expect either to implement the systemic change needed in this city.

SD
SD
2 years ago

The Portland Business Alliance thanks you for your support.

A rigged city in a rigged nation
A rigged city in a rigged nation
2 years ago
Reply to  SD

Are you referring to the person who had a cushy job (via Nancy Hales) lobbying corporations and the rich at “First Stop Portland” or whatever it was called? Or the person who called for more cops and private security forces on Lars Larson’s show?

Some claim that Iannarone has changed but if you look at her white male surrogates, most of whom are wealthy and ooze “free market” out of ever pore, a different picture emerges.

As a low income unemployed person, I just don’t see much difference between Wheeler and Iannarone. Also, based on voting patterns, it’s clear that I’m not the only voter who felt this way (most of Iannarone’s support came from inner east-side neighborhoods where rich liberals live).

Glenn
Glenn
2 years ago

If you’re going to make broad, sweeping statements – as you’ve done throughout – at least back them up with evidence. Iannarone’s strongest support – both in raw numbers and in percentages came from precincts in North Portland and south of Holgate. Those are hardly what anyone would classify as high income areas. And, who are these white male surrogates supporting a Sunrise Movement-backed candidate who was “mildly progressive” on climate?

SD
SD
2 years ago

You’ve made a strong case for your zany Ted Wheeler vote.

SD
SD
2 years ago
Reply to  SD

…and right now, I think that’s the sound of applause from the Portland Police for everyone who wrote in alternative spellings of Ted Wheeler for mayor.

Chris I
Chris I
2 years ago

Don’t blame me. I’m a rich liberal and I voted for Wheeler.

Javier Sodo
Javier Sodo
2 years ago

You might want to count your blessings that you have Wheeler. I feel if there was an alternative candidate running to the right of Wheeler they would have had a good chance this year. Many Portlanders are fed up with the increase in violent crime, near nightly property destruction, homeless being enabled by the city and the rampant property crime (bike theft, car theft, package theft and trespassing). Remember when Giuliani won the New York mayoral election the early 90’s. That was in a very Democratic city. He did this by promising to be tough on crime. I think the chances of a “Giuliani moment” for Portland have lessened somewhat with Iannarone’s loss but if Wheeler doesn’t make Portland more livable for those paying taxes it would certainly leave an opening for someone at the next election.

X
X
2 years ago

Could we have the transportation projects á la carte? And lead off with some serious modeling on greenhouse gas reduction. It wouldn’t hurt to talk about benzene emissions either.

I know the general election is supposed to be good for tax measures but seriously, who had the bandwidth to consider a $7B tab?

David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  X

Metro has tried doing measures a-la-carte in the past. They always failed miserably, as any Metro measure must be voted on by the entire Metro area, by all three counties, even when a project is just in one or two counties.

X
X
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Maybe Metro is the wrong horse to back. Why can’t the city build a busway on a street that Trimet runs a bus on? If there was a bus-only lane on NE Sandy / SW Barbur from one city limit to the other, would the 20 not use it?

Fred
Fred
2 years ago
Reply to  X

A bus-only lane (BRT) makes so much sense – it’s exponentially cheaper than LRT. But the residents of SW Portland and the many commuters who use Barbur just wouldn’t stand for it, as they sit in traffic while the BRT lane sits empty except for a bus passing thru every 5-10 minutes. This is one unique advantage of LRT: it isn’t seen as removing valuable space for private cars.

Bicycling Al
Bicycling Al
2 years ago

Metro 26-218 was on a ballot crowded with a LOT of other attractive measures. It was one of the few, or only, I’m not familiar with the entire gamut of measures across all jurisdictions, that failed. But why was this even a measure to begin with? Isn’t this something that the legislature should be taking up? It’s time to ask questions about what Oregon’s measure system has actually delivered because I’m becoming increasingly frustrated by what it denies us instead.

David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  Bicycling Al

The Oregon Legislature did take it up. They, the Democratic-controlled legislature, passed legislation, which the Democratic governor signed, to expand I-5 and I-205 through Democratic Portland. And now everyone in ultra-liberal inner Portland is up in arms against the I-5 expansion (called locally as the Rose Quarter project), but deafeningly silent on the I-205 expansion through East Portland.

J_R
J_R
2 years ago

What’s your evidence that businesses claims that the payroll tax would hurt them are false?

Is it something other than “well, they make a lot of money?”

JR
JR
2 years ago

No big surprises in the election results to me. I just hope the new city council leads to significant change to the city’s form of government. I’m tired of having a political head in charge of various bureaus and all of which are assigned at the will of the mayor, who has very little other power to exact influence.

I don’t think the problem with the transportation measure was that it wasn’t inclusive enough. It was too inclusive. It was measure designed by a very, very large committee. It didn’t provide enough assurances to the public about what would exactly get built. It didn’t even have a sunset date – geez! It also exempted the tax on governments and non-profits at the last minute. It was too easy of a target from the big business interests for these and other failings. I wish it would’ve focused on things that would be transformational like a systemwide approach to better bus service and a network of new trails and fixing the gaps in the existing trail network. The light rail project just wasn’t that pivotal to the rest of the region. A downtown subway network for east-west and north-south lines would’ve been more transformational. I voted for it, even though it wasn’t perfect for my expectations only because I don’t think Metro can put together anything remotely perfect.

Laura
Laura
2 years ago
Reply to  JR

But it didn’t exempt non-profits…and that was one of my issues. Our non-profit has lost staff due to the economy/covid, even though demands on our services are higher. The tax was a disincentive to re-fill those positions. It exempted OHSU (as a State agency) but taxed it’s market competitors like Providence. Compromises like that, as well as back-room dealing by Metro Prez, about things like “we may not charge the full authorized tax rate.” and other statements made it clear that this measure was less about transportation, and more about her eyeing the Governor’s mansion.

joan
2 years ago

We will never know what percentage of write-in votes Raiford received. It was certainly not all of them. There’s always at least one or two percent in most of our races.

Erin M.
Erin M.
2 years ago

I don’t think Sarah would have won regardless. The people who wrote Raiford aren’t dumb, if they had wanted to vote for Sarah they would have voted for Sarah. These were the people who could not bring themselves to vote for either viable candidate, and there’s no reason to think that many of them would have voted for either if the Raiford write-in campaign hadn’t happened.

Further, if all Raiford write-ins were forced to choose between Iannerone and Wheeler then, while I do think a majority would have picked Iannerone, more than you think would have voted for Wheeler. I personally know quite a few people who were a definitey “no” on Iannarone, but who were torn on Wheeler vs writing in Raiford, since they were so disappointed in Wheeler. Not sure what all of them chose, but some almost certainly wrote in Raiford.

Tom
Tom
2 years ago
Reply to  Erin M.

After the primary, it was on Iannarone’s campaign to secure Raiford’s endorsement and bring Raiford supporters into the fold. Instead, Raiford got significantly more votes as a write-in this time. What happened?

Megan
Megan
2 years ago

Despite being passionately pro-transit, I abstained from voting at all on Metro 26-218 because… the light rail line in it was just so, so bad. I love light rail, I ride it every day, but that proposed line is (was? can it be was??) such garbage – it missed most if not all of the regional destinations, paralleled a freeway, and had parking garages (instead of, cough, affordable car-free housing, cough) planned for its out-of-the-way station locations. I felt bad not supporting the local groups, but… that light rail line… the fact that it was ever put in front of my transit-loving face as a worthy cause still makes me angry. Add that to most of the projects in that bill being automobile-oriented, the wonkery with who got exempted from the tax (all the bureaucrats who would benefit from the funding – SURPRISE), and then asking for a tax on business in the middle of a recession… while my family, personally, is pinching pennies to cover our bills… it was too much. Just… too much.

More pedantically, I don’t believe light rail functions properly outside of a gridded street system of the sort our country hasn’t built since 1945. SW does not have the mixed, walkable land use necessary to “deserve” light rail, and as long as that remains true building a line there no different from lighting our money on fire. If we ever build light rail again, it needs to be within the boundaries of the city as they were in 1945.

If we get another shot at a giant pot of federal money for transit, we should use it to tunnel underneath the Willamette and create an express line on/adjacent to lines that already exist, enabling riders to get from one side of town to the other faster than taking the freeway. To get THAT done, I’d tax Nike into the stratosphere ANY day! And I bet a majority of Portland-region voters might just agree…

 
 
2 years ago
Reply to  Megan

The love affair planners in our region have with light rail is incomprehensible. I seriously can’t see a single benefit of light rail over BRT for this corridor, or others like Powell and the Orange Line corridor. A big issue is reliability: it seems like every other day the MAX has some sort of issues somewhere that delay the entire system. With buses, it’s easy to just go one block around any issue. Same with the streetcars, what an absolute waste of money that could be better spent improving bus service.

Chris I
Chris I
2 years ago
Reply to   

Light rail makes sense for high-ridership corridors, because they offer lower costs per rider and more capacity.

SW corridor along 99W is not a great candidate, but I would argue that Powell is a good one. A line on Powell would connect the Orange and Green lines, and provide a high-capacity trunk to serve SE Portland and Clackamas County. Powell requires dedicated ROW, and once you build that, it’s not much more to add tracks and catenary.

Eawriste
Eawriste
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris I

Powell LRT from the current Orange line to 205 would have been the best bet for metro in getting higher ridership using less money. It is denser, there was more support, increases the robustness/flexibility of the system (eg lines can bypass the Steel Br), and would have been cheaper.

Bradley Bondy
Bradley Bondy
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris I

Dedicated ROW is pretty simple on Powell. There’s all of the parking on the south side that was taken in preparation for the freeway, but is still there unused, to make that a continuous ROW would require the acquisition of ~30 homes. Closer in would probably take a mile & a half long tunnel since the street is much more constrained.

I don’t get why Barbur was treated as a higher priority than Powell. Powell isn’t that difficult of a line and offers huge potential for ridership. My guess is the idea was that there’s more potential for development along barbur than along Powell.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Bradley Bondy

Building a line on Powell would be “inequitable” since SE Portland already “has” light rail service. Never mind that we should be solving problems and serving people, not “equalizing quadrants”.

Fred
Fred
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

“If we ever build light rail again, it needs to be within the boundaries of the city as they were in 1945.”

That’s odd: SW Portland was once very well-served by trains, both the Southern Pacific (later Red Electric) and the Oregon Electric Railway. When you enjoy cycling on Multnomah Blvd, as I do daily, you are cycling on the old OER ROW. Multnomah Village was one of the earliest train-commuter suburbs.

A MAX line to SW Portland could work great if the old rail lines could be reclaimed.

Lazy Spinner
Lazy Spinner
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris I

I know that I am comparing apples and oranges but, after spending two weeks in D.C. during the summer of 2018 and using the Metro to get around, it really hammered home how inefficient and overrated MAX is. I actually got sad riding the MAX from the airport back to my neighborhood as it took forever compared to going anywhere on Metro.

Eawriste
Eawriste
2 years ago
Reply to  Lazy Spinner

You weren’t living there when it was catching fire 5 years ago. Yes it’s much faster, and a decent network, but was almost a hazard to ride not to long ago.

David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  Lazy Spinner

Yeah, the DC Metro is really quite nice, even late at night. They are about to finally finish the 2-phase $5.7 Billion line to Dulles Airport, largely paid for by the rest of us (rather than locally.) Given Portland’s rather limited funding, the MAX is far nicer than one would expect.

cmh89
cmh89
2 years ago
Reply to   

Building light-rail is a big city planner project! No one is getting accolades and kudos for improving bus service.

But yeah, it’s laughable that Metro and this measures backers are wanting to use the most expensive, highest upside form of transit as way to spur development and openly acknowledge that ridership doesn’t currently exist along the line.

We need to be like Seattle and build short spurs that connect import corridors, if we build it at all, we should just build BRT.

 
 
2 years ago
Reply to  cmh89

Exactly. Here’s my pipe-dream list of high-capacity transit projects I’d like to see, in no particular order:

  • Transit tunnel through downtown, from Goose Hollow to Lloyd Center
  • Green line spur tunnel from downtown to OHSU
  • True BRT from downtown, down Powell and then Division, to Gresham
  • True BRT from downtown, first down Barbur, and then along Beaverton-Hillsdale and then TV Highway all the way to Forest Grove.
  • True BRT from downtown along Barbur/99W to Sherwood
  • True BRT along Lombard/Killingsworth from St. Johns to Airport

I think that gets all of the most important corridors that don’t have any high capacity transit currently. There’s several more that I think aBRT could be a good fit for as well:

  • Decommission WES and add aBRT in its place along Hall and Boones Ferry from Beaverton to Tualatin
  • aBRT along Hawthorne/Foster from downtown to Lents
  • aBRT from downtown, along 26 to Sylvan and then down Scholls Ferry down to Tigard (amazingly this high-traffic route isn’t even served by a local bus currently).
  • aBRT along McLoughlin from end of orange line to Oregon City
  • aBRT along Highway 43 from downtown to West Linn
  • aBRT along Sandy from downtown to at least Parkrose, maybe all the way to Wood Village
  • aBRT along Cesar Chavez from Reed College to Hollywood

I’ve tried to make this list pretty evenly distributed throughout the metro area as well so that no single area is over- or under-served by high-capacity transit.

maxD
maxD
2 years ago
Reply to  Megan

The first time they issue an RFP for that project, VIA proposed some segments get built with elevated track. It is more expensive (mostly to build the stations) but it is not tied to the streets and it is much faster and more useful for a line like this. I would like to see TriMet redesign the line to connect the bast destination instead of the most convenient and include elevated track.

John Liu
John Liu
2 years ago
Reply to  Megan

I saw the SW MAX line as sort of like BART in the Bay Area: a way for people to commute from suburbs into the center. But MAX has limitations – short trains, low speeds, runs on city streets – that prevent it from working as well as BART. Those aren’t insoluble. Then Covid accelerated WFH by decades in a few months. I really don’t know how much demand there will be to commute from far SW to downtown in the future, and I’m not sure anyone does. I *want* the future to include abundant light rail with bikeshare and walking the last mile. But I think it makes sense to see how work and travel patterns are changed by this time we’re in. And, yes, there were so many large new taxes on the ballot, when too many are under severe financial stress. Anything with a hint of boondoggle was a big stretch.

Chris I
Chris I
2 years ago
Reply to  John Liu

After a line on Powell, I think the next big project should be a downtown transit tunnel. The Steel Bridge is a major weak point in the system, leading to capacity restrictions and delays.

A line on Powell would permit re-routing of the Green Line off of the Steel bridge (it would take Powell to the Tillicum, and then turn back at Union Station). This would free up capacity for additional trains on the Yellow/Red/Blue lines, and provide service alternatives if the Steel Bridge goes down (for example, you could route trains along Powell and then along I-205 to Burnside to tie into the Blue line by including Wye interchanges at Powell/205 and I-205/Burnside).

A downtown tunnel would be expensive, but it is really needed if we want to be serious about high-capacity transit in Portland.

Eawriste
Eawriste
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris I

Yes, and yes please.

GlowBoy
GlowBoy
2 years ago

Hopefully TriMet will take the time to rethink the SW transit project in the wake of this. It’s possible that the line could attract a bunch of private development (as our own southwest line here in the Twin Cities has already done, two years before opening – but then again, I’m not sure there are enough big employers along Portland-Tigard’s SW corridor to justify it). But it’s probably a much better candidate for BRT than for rail – and there should be room for dedicated ROW along much of the route – at probably less than a tenth the cost.

Rail is great. I’ve ridden MAX between 2,500 and 3,000 times. Love it. But for me, TriMet’s SW line is kind of on the edge of justifiability. And let’s get real: given the results of the election, even if Biden wins Congress isn’t going to be handing out rail-line funding left and right.

Kittens
Kittens
2 years ago
Reply to  GlowBoy

lol 2,500 and 3,000 times?

A project no one was asking for or needed, especially now. If they want a winner they need to begin working with Clark County (eek) and Vancouver to reboot high-capacity transit for commuters. May or may not include rail but definitely dedicated ROW.

Chris I
Chris I
2 years ago
Reply to  Kittens

So, a bridge to bring the yellow line over into Vancouver?

Kittens
Kittens
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris I

That would be the most likely outcome but it would be sad and not usable. The Yellow is not a fast way to get anywhere, specifically the CBD.

GlowBoy
GlowBoy
2 years ago
Reply to  Kittens

Yes, I have actually done the math on that. Commuted on both MAX and bike to the westside for 10 years, and have put in a couple hundred more rides in the six years since I moved away but still frequently come back to Portland for work.

Fred
Fred
2 years ago
Reply to  GlowBoy

Ever been on the roads around Nike at around 4pm on a weekday? (pre-pandemic, of course). Now there’s a place crying out for high-capacity transit!

Kittens
Kittens
2 years ago

RE: Metro Transportation Tax: I am so glad that Metro voters are not just rubber stamping every pro-transit tax referred to them. The failure of this project (let’s call it what it was; a LRT project) will hopefully send all these overcompensated planners, designers, facilitators and consultants back to the drawing board and begin afresh with all options on the table not just rail. Rail is great. Rail is fun. It is foundational to all TriMet does but the systematic failure of that agency to maintain, manage and grow the system in a acceptable way has become glaringly apparent to those who use it. Demand Better for your dollar!

The days of 75% federal match are over and we are forever stuck with rising maintenance and operational costs on what we have already built. If you want to see what poorly maintained transit looks like go to NYC where transit has become a hellish experience. Maybe this will change with COVID-19, the coming Great Depression Part II. but right now things are not looking good.

roberta
2 years ago

I really dislike the characterization of the Metro 2020 Bill in this article. It never had widespread support because the original SW alignment was a racists decision. Opal was the lead organization educating people on the issue. Having the new Opal leader completely co-op and take down all of the websites documentation was the last nail in the coffin of death for Opal and Metro 2020. Same thing happened with BikeLoudPDX, new leadership came in and completely tanked the historic meetings, agendas and position statements were removed from the web. Transport activists were divided and conquered by themselves. The union supported democratic machine protecting PERS and Police re elected the status quo with the help of a mayoral spoiler. That’s the democratic machine that only prefers climate change solutions that include more taxes and roads.

Censure ship from BikeLoud and Opal was the death nail in the unity of cyclists and transport activist. I went to many of these Metro ‘listening’ session Pederson is referring to and there was a lot of opposition Metro just ignored. Just adding more wish list projects and free bus passes for kids is not a negotiation; its a buy out list of nonprofits willing to censure their old school hard core activists for tax crumbs off the Democratic table. Seems like all the COVID federal crumb$ went to Black groups willing to swallow thi$$ pill of truth.

Fred
Fred
2 years ago
Reply to  roberta

Well, you might know more about the racism than I do, but I just wanted to be able to take the MAX from where I live in SW Portland to downtown. Residents in every other part of the city can do that, so why shouldn’t I be able to?

GlowBoy
GlowBoy
2 years ago

Disappointed as I am that Wheeler won reelection, it’s even more disappointing to see destructive protests over it. C’mon Portland, the RWM amplify this stuff massively. Most progressives around the country don’t know this happened, but I can assure you that most conservatives do. It only gives the more unhinged elements of the other side an excuse to run wild if (as seems more than 50-50 likely right now) Biden pulls out a win.

Chris I
Chris I
2 years ago
Reply to  GlowBoy

The destructive protests are a big reason why Wheeler won re-election. Most of the city is sick of it.

David Hampsten
2 years ago
Reply to  GlowBoy

I feel sorry for whoever wins the presidency. The Republicans still have the Supreme Court and the Senate (they lost two seats, in Colorado and Arizona, but gained Alabama), while the Democratic majority in the House is looking increasingly iffy, slim at best, maybe a 3-seat majority. And voter turnout was no better than in 2016, about 59%; it improved in some places, but fell dramatically in California. Biden’s share of the overall vote is just over half, which is better than Clinton’s 48% in 2016, and more than the other guy of course, but it’s hardly a mandate. And there’s still the pandemic, the recession it has caused, extremism all over the place, closed schools (with related drops in educational attainment), tourism is dead, etc etc.

Alan 1.0
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

As of Sunday, the tallied votes accounted for 62% of the eligible voting-age population in the U.S. That’s a 0.4 percentage point increase so far over the rate hit in 2008…

(https://apnews.com/article/referendum-on-trump-shatter-voter-record-c5c61a8d280123a1d340a3f633077800)

Not to mention highest absolute turnout, of course.

Biden now up to 50.8% of popular vote, topping Reagan’s 50.7% in 1980…
Is highest percentage for challenger since FDR in 1932…

(https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Si45ZzlBmOQJ:https://www.drudgereport.com/+&cd=10&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari)

Sorrow is not how I would describe my feelings about Biden and Harris at this point.

But yeah, a very difficult path lies ahead, and you didn’t even touch on the judicial branch.

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
2 years ago

Most people seem to be giving Wheeler a pass on his massive last minute loan to his campaign. Even though it was technically legal, it was clearly against the intent of current legal thinking. I have heard some pundits (geez, they are so annoying) attribute his victory to his late negative campaigning against Sarah. Of course, without accurate exit poling, we will never know what happened to her the last month or so.

Chris I
Chris I
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

I’m going to guess that the massive write-in campaign for Raiford had something to do with the 13% write-in vote, while Wheeler only won by 6%… write-in was less than 1% of the vote back in 2016.

Fred
Fred
2 years ago

I’m typing this comment before reading the 104 comments already posted, but let me just say that I live in SW Portland, and I hope all you naysayers about the MAX line are pleased that SW Portland, Tigard etc will continue to be car-dependent. Special thanks to that guy from Sightline who wondered “who that MAX line is for” (for people who live in SW and want to commute downtown, dummy!).

I know a line to Bridgeport wasn’t great, and I know the measure itself and the way it raised funding had problems. But this is a case of “the ideal becoming an enemy of the good,” as a great man once said. The defeat of the measure and the MAX line ensures automobile dependence in SW for the next 20-30 years.

Oh yeah – message to PBOT: You now have no excuse NOT to get moving on plans to replace the two Barbur bridges with truly bike-friendly and ped-friendly bridges.

Kittens
Kittens
2 years ago
Reply to  Fred

Fred, there are other options, most of which are cheaper and easier to build. They may not be as tasty as LRT but they would address your complaint without years of construction and zero design flexibility.

Barrington Steele
Barrington Steele
2 years ago
Reply to  Fred

This is a case where the ideal being the enemy of the good is what i would advocate for. The ideal is actually heavy rail, and we need a little bit more population to get that going. “The good” Would be a region-wide frequent service bus grid, with lots of $1-5mil projects throughout the region to speed up said grid. Along with the most dirt-cheap commuter rail possible.

Eawriste
Eawriste
2 years ago
Reply to  Fred

Hey Fred. The Yellow Line extension was one of the main reasons I tentatively supported Metro’s measure. I would have used it to get to SW fairly often. There were many other reasons I found the measure counterproductive. My hope is that the MAX can still be built in segments (with Burlingame as the first endpoint). But an inner Powell line, for a lot of reasons, would arguably benefit the metro area much more.