Signaling that they may not be happy with how the Bicycle Capital of the Northwest is being run, voters in NPI’s hometown of Redmond are easily defeating two levies that were placed on the August Top Two ballot by the Redmond City Council with the support of incumbent two-term Mayor John Marchione.
The first levy, Proposition 1, would have raised funds for public safety. The second levy, Proposition 2, would have renewed and expanded an expiring parks levy.
As of last night, Proposition 1 (public safety) was failing 53.36% to 46.64%. Proposition 2 (parks) was failing by an even wider margin, 54.46% to 45.54%.
Fewer than six thousand votes from Redmond residents have been tabulated so far, but this election has seen very low turnout, and it’s unlikely that either levy will make up the difference by the time the election is certified.
Both levies were opposed by several former Redmond elected leaders, including Rosemarie Ives (a four term mayor) and Jim Robinson, a councilmember and former candidate for mayor who lost to Marchione eight years ago.
There was no organized campaign against the levies, but the arguments made by Ives, Robinson, and Richard Grubb in the opposition voter’s pamphlet statement nevertheless appear to be carrying the day over those made by the Yes campaign, which did print up yard signs and distribute materials urging a Yes vote.
Politicians often exhibit some skill in developing specious rationales for increasing taxes but “they cannot escape the numbers.”
Over the past four years, taxpayer funded property taxes to the city have increased by $4,000,000. For that same period, sales tax revenue to the city has increased by nearly $5,500,000. Given other sources, the city’s overall revenue for the same period has increased by $14,750,000 or more than 10%.
These amounts of increases should surely be enough to run a city government whose house is in order and whose mayor has said “we must live within our means.” Let’s take the mayor at his word.
Your investment of a $138.32 per year for the medium priced Redmond home is an efficient way to save taxpayer money by avoiding costly replacement of street infrastructure and nipping property crime in the bud before it has an opportunity to flourish. This smart investment in safer streets and crime prevention ensures a healthy and secure community for your family and generations to come.
As long-term, committed park supporters, we find it hard to vote against parks. But it is not hard to oppose a tax increase when funds have been misdirected to a mega project at the expense of neighborhoods. To date, the city has spent $23,968,811 on a two-acre downtown park surrounded by nearly un-navigable traffic, little parking and is unlikely to be used on a regular basis by the wider community. This huge outlay when the City already has a 16 acre municipal campus and parking garage just two blocks north is further evidence of misdirected spending and reshuffled priorities.
Furthermore, the city plans on spending an additional $12,387,462 to build the park and $85,000 annually for maintenance. Dollars are not unlimited. Spent one place, they become unavailable to other neighborhoods and Idylwood, our only lakefront park.
Idylwood Park on Lake Sammamish gets improvements to ease congestion and make your day at the beach more pleasant. Parking will be less challenging in summer weather when thousands of outdoor lovers visit our beautiful waterfront community park.
Neighborhood walkability and recreation are improved by Proposition 2. New parks in Southeast and Northeast Redmond are created from undeveloped parkland. Overlake’s Westside Park gets a new playground and other improvements.
The levy maintains funding for youth programs and maintenance. Park maintenance and security is increased at Grasslawn, Idylwood, Hartman, Perrigo, and Anderson Parks in summer months.
Proposition 2 enables a number of projects for parks and trails near you. The Grasslawn picnic shelter will be replaced, the Farrel-McWhirter equestrian arenas resurfaced, and pathways renovated at Reservoir and Cascade View Parks.
For the last few weeks, Redmond’s local newspaper, the Redmond Reporter, has printed several dueling letters urging a yes vote and a no vote, respectively.
It appears to us that the yes side may have been hampered by a failure to explain exactly what voters would get for their money by approving the levies, particularly the public safety levy. In our experience, when the dots aren’t connected for voters, they are more likely to vote no. It is helpful when a levy only funds one project or set of interconnected projects because it makes it easier to explain.
Consider the excerpted statement above. It leaves much to the imagination. What new parks are being developed, and where? How would parking at Idylwood be improved? What does renovating pathways mean?
If people can’t visualize it, they may not vote for it.
Politics at the city level in Redmond have been somewhat sleepy for a number of years. Remarkably, Redmond hasn’t had a contested race for city council since 2011, and hasn’t had a contested race for mayor since 2007.
This year, however, Mayor John Marchione is facing a strong challenge from small business owner and government effectiveness advocate Steve Fields, who is mounting an energetic, grassroots campaign focused on conversations with voters.
Whether the failure of the levies will significantly impact the mayor’s race is unclear. Candidate elections have very different dynamics than ballot measures do.
If Redmond voters do want to make a change in leadership this November, their only option will be to replace Marchione, because no one filed to run against incumbents Hank Margeson, Hank Myers, or David Carson, and Angela Birney was the only person to file for the seat being vacated by Tom Flynn.