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Sound Transit picks ‘radioactive’ Tim Eyman to write statement against light-rail expansion

By Mike Lindblom

The Seattle Times

The Sound Transit board picked Tim Eyman to help write the voters-pamphlet statement opposing the fall ballot measure on light-rail expansion. Opponents of the ballot measure say the move amounts to campaign sabotage.
The Sound Transit board picked Tim Eyman to help write the voters-pamphlet statement opposing the fall ballot measure on light-rail expansion. Opponents of the ballot measure say the move amounts to campaign sabotage. AP file photo

The registered campaign against Sound Transit’s proposed light-rail expansion would rather not have its arguments linked to professional tax rebel Tim Eyman, but it appears that will occur.

The transit agency’s governing board has voted to let Eyman co-write the statements against the $54 billion Sound Transit 3 measure that will appear in the fall voters pamphlet — to the outrage of the organized People for Smarter Transit campaign, which proposed its own slate.

“This is so cynical. This is an attempt to poison the issue,” Chuck Collins, the leader of People for Smarter Transit’s statement committee, said after Thursday’s board vote.

“Tim is radioactive in central Puget Sound, King County,” said Collins, of Mercer Island, a former manager of King County Metro Transit. “And they know this.”

Collins added Friday that he will withdraw if Eyman’s appointment sticks: “I’m unequivocal. If Eyman is in the statement, I’m not. I will notify the Sound Transit board.”

The transit board Thursday dismissed advice by board member Dave Upthegrove of Des Moines, who said Eyman should be left off, because Eyman’s campaign-finance practices in other matters are under state investigation.

The board selected Eyman, a resident of Mukilteo in Snohomish County, to appear on pamphlet statements in all three urban counties.

Because of a longstanding quirk in Washington law, the board was required to pick three people in each of Sound Transit’s three counties to write the opposition statements.

The voters guide is frequently the final or perhaps the only information that many people peruse before marking mail-in ballots.

Before the transit board took a voice vote, member Fred Butler, mayor of Issaquah, mentioned the agency received messages from 18 Eyman supporters.

Eyman has led campaigns to cut car-tab taxes and limit property taxes. This year, he abandoned some initiative proposals, but announced a “We Love Our Cars” initiative drive aimed at 2017, to repeal Initiative 405 express-toll lanes, and slash state car-tab fees to $30.

“I’ve worked with teams of people to write arguments on 13 statewide initiatives and numerous local initiatives related to red-light ticketing cameras and other issues,” Eyman wrote, in asking to work on the voters guide.

ST3 would build seven light-rail extensions, add commuter-rail capacity and create bus-rapid transit routes, at an estimated cost increase next year of $326 for a median household in sales, car-tab and property taxes.

For Pierce County, Sound Transit chose:

▪ For: Former U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland.

▪ Against: Collins, Eyman and Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Mike Lonergan.

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