By Scott Schaefer

Ballots have been mailed, forums have been held, campaign signs are out and voters are deciding on seven local candidates on the ballot for four positions on the Des Moines City Council for the Nov. 2, 2021 General Election.

The Waterland Blog sent out seven questions to the seven candidates, and today we’re presenting their answers to the sixth one, in order of position numbers and names (and photos) as listed on the King County Elections website. Each candidate’s name also links to their statements on the Elections website.

Here’s question #6:

How do you feel about transportation options currently available in our city (including the proposed new passenger ferry)?

Positon No. 1

Harry Steinmetz

I strongly feel we need improve our east-west public transportation routes. They simply are not adequate to meet the needs of our population, particularly in light of connecting people to the light rail stations on Pacific Highway.

I still have a number of questions concerning the passenger ferry when it comes to traffic and parking. While I like the idea of connecting port cities around the sound and providing an additional way to commute into downtown, I don’t think the plan is sufficient to pass final judgment on at this time.

Position No. 3

Gene Achziger

Light Rail is bringing enhanced opportunities for our residents to get from Point A to Point B without having to worry about traffic jams and accidents on our major roadways. This is incredibly important for working parents who need to pick their kids up from daycare or before and after-school care on a strict time schedule.

There is an incredible demand to utilize the reliability of Light Rail. Still, there are parking issues in that the lots at the Angle Lake Station are often overflowing. The Community Shuttle provides greater access to the Angle Lake Station. But, the current shuttle route comes to the Marina District, turns around, and retraces the same path once it reaches the Adriana.

If the shuttle were to instead continue up Marine View Drive to South 240th and then back to Angle Lake via South 24th Avenue South (approximately the same distance), you would make access to Light Rail available for hundreds of more apartments and condo dwellers.

Regarding the passenger ferry, it may sound good if you view it as an isolated service. But, advocates and foes alike are asking the same question: What about the parking?

The North Marina lot already fills up with Farmers Market parking each Saturday. This same lot is the designated parking for the revenue-producing Beach Park Event Center. There has also been discussion of another restaurant (similar to Anthony’s at the north end of the Marina. Plus a boutique hotel.

Not one more decision should be made regarding Marina redevelopment until a comprehensive assessment of parking capacity is conducted. You can only jam so many pounds of stuff into a 5-pound bag.

Priscilla Vargas

I’m delighted to see the City’s efforts to enhance multimodal transportation with the community shuttle. The City’s efforts to work with Sound Transit on the extension of two light rail stations has been very positive.  I believe passenger ferry service will be a regional asset providing multiple functions including, commuting, tourism and business and positive environmental impacts by reducing congestion and improving air quality.

Position No. 5

Traci Buxton

For a city of our size and density, I believe we have a good number of transportation options (which are slated to increase in the near future with the coming of FWLE).

Outside of private services like Uber and Lyft, the county has provided four metro lines available within walking distance of most residents. Within one transfer, these connect to major transportation hubs that facilitate travel to most places in the urban region.

One of these lines (Angle Lake Station/Downtown Core Connection) is being provided through a County/City partnership. Depending on the success of that ridership and the completion of FWLE, there may be options for extending this Community Connections line in the future, to include more neighborhoods in the South.

I believe the proposed passenger ferry service has been well-vetted, and hasalso generated substantial positive input from the public. I am excited to see what the future holds for our waterfront community.

Tad Doviak

The partnership with Metro to ferry people to and from the light rail is helpful. I think that’s a great thing. Our city is part of the Midway bottleneck. To get from Seattle to Tacoma, you have to drive through Des Moines. More signs promoting Des Moines amenities on I-5 would be great. The passenger ferry proposal is a fantastic idea. I really hope we have a few entrepreneurs who will take advantage of the increased traffic in and out of the area to really revitalize the area.

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Position No. 7

Matt Mahoney

We have:

  • Three bus routes that cross over our town, these run north to south covering Pacific Highway, and through town via First Avenue and Des Moines Memorial Drive.
  • A city-subsidized bus service that connects downtown to the Light Rail.
  • A ride share program.
  • Light rail that will add a station across from Highline College in 2024.
  • A plan that’s being executed to expand our safe trails for bikes and pedestrians. The Barnes Creek Trail that will run through the old Highway 509 property by Des Moines Elementary and Highline College to eventually the new Light Rail Station.

We need:

  • More bus service that travels west to east which connect us to our light rail stations.
  • A passenger ferry to help with commutes during the week and brings in visitors on weekends. Bringing people from Seattle and Tacoma to dine and explore our town will help support and foster development downtown.

Soleil Lewis

Our transportation committee and budget reflects no consideration into funding transportation options reflective of the working class and low-income BIPOC community living in Des Moines.

The city has not fairly allocated money into a transportation system that allows for individuals to have consistent bus access as working class individuals..

Moreover on the tourism side of discussing a proposed passenger ferry, it doesn’t completely fit into a long-term vision for a city. To just have a passenger ferry without proposals for other modes of transportation is limiting the capacity of downtown Des Moines. More, it reflects the lack of consideration of other transportation modes being used by cities with marinas across Washington State.

TOMORROW: We’ll get answers from candidates on our final question – how they plan to involve Des Moines residents in the decision-making process in our town.