On November 2, 2015, one day before the general election, Mayor Ed Murray held a press conference on the steps of Olympic View Elementary to promote The Levy to Move Seattle.
Students wore their orange safety patrol vests, parents applauded enthusiastically, and the Mayor promised that a YES vote would mean sidewalks, always promised by the City – but never delivered, would finally be built on 8th Ave. NE..
Here’s what Q13 reported that day:
Outside of Olympic View Elementary on Monday afternoon, the mayor said the lack of sidewalks in the neighborhood is one reason voters should approve Proposition 1, known as the “Let’s Move Seattle” transportation levy.
“This is one of many Seattle neighborhoods that lack basic infrastructure like sidewalks,” said Mayor Murray.
At a cost of $930 million, the levy would replace the Bridging the Gap levy that expires at the end of 2015. The plan seeks to repave 180 miles of arterial streets, reinforce bridges and add new bike lanes and sidewalks. It would be paid for with a property tax that would cost homeowners $275 dollars a year on a $450,000 home, which is $145 more than they pay now.
“Ultimately, I’m giving you my word we are going to deliver these projects on time and on budget,” Murray said.
The next day, The Levy to Move Seattle won big. YES earned 58.67% of the total vote, NO just 41.33%. Mayor Murray’s last minute push for support seemed to have eased concerns raised by the opposition group, Keep Seattle Affordable. Many levy supporters were worried efforts made by this and other opposition groups, would sour voter enthusiasm for the levy in North Seattle.
So, Where Are the Sidewalks?
Given such a high profile promise from Mayor Murray, it would be reasonable to expect Olympic View’s sidewalk problem to be at the top of the list of projects funded by the levy.
Amazingly, that’s not the case. Of the 44 projects planned for the first five years of the nine year long Move Seattle Levy, Olympic View Elementary didn’t make the list – at all.
I have a big problem with the Mayor or any other public official making a promise to a school community during a campaign and then forgetting about it once the election is over. I’m guessing many parents probably feel the same way.
I also understand there are many schools in our district in desperate need of sidewalks and other safety improvements. Olympic View is far from alone on this issue.
However, at this point, sidewalks are really a side issue. My concern is trust and accountability.
If simple campaign promises can be ignored without consequence, how will that play out with our elected officials ever growing desire for even more say and control over how our public schools operate.
When Mayor Murray uses a school community, like Olympic View Elementary, as prop to further a short term political goal, I believe the Mayor needs to be held accountable for this type of pandering. In addition, when Mayor Murray makes a huge public promise to any school in our district, I expect him to keep it.
-Carolyn Leith, Parent of two Seattle Public School Students.