Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The election

A horrid year for Democrats.  As we learned in the 2010 election, you can't take things for granted ever.  But the size of the "landslide" is shocking and shades of 1980.  Most Republican gubernatorial candidates won.  Same with candidates for the US Senate.

Even in Kansas, where the expectation was that the extremely conservative agenda of Governor Sam Brownback would scotch his reelection, but it didn't.  And Florida.  And Michigan.  And Wisconsin.  And Massachusetts.  Etc.

The impact of the federal results on DC.  Could be pretty bad.  It's not likely that the Republican controlled House and Senate will be interested in investing in the federal workforce or federal agencies based in Washington.  That will damper construction, real estate development, employment and the regional economy more generally.

cf. "Shall it be released? GSA weighs relocation for Bureau of Prisons," Washington Business Journal, which provides a rundown of upcoming major federal leases in Washington and Arlington.

The close results in the Virginia Senate race mean a recount, although Democrat Mark Warner won very narrowly at first glance.  If he loses to Ed Gillespie, maybe the Republicans will be willing to spend money on federal agencies in Virginia.  Conversely, if he loses maybe the Republicans will be willing to spend money on federal agencies in Maryland, on the off chance it will help new Republican Governor Larry Hogan.

Maryland.  I am not totally surprised that the Democratic candidate for Governor, Anthony Brown, lost ("Blue state shocker: Hogan wins Md. governor’s race" and "Hogan won Md. governor’s race by seizing the message of the campaign," Washington Post), even though Maryland is a strongly Democratic state.

It's somewhat of a replay of 2002 when Kathleen Kennedy Thompson, not the world's best candidate, ran against Robert Ehrlich.  She had been the lieutenant governor and so the idea was that she "earned" running for Governor.  She lost too.  The same goes, by the way, for Massachusetts, with candidate for Governor, Martha Coakley.  She "earned" the place on the ballot, but likely wasn't the best candidate, and Republican candidate Charlie Baker, ended up winning.

This will be a problem because the people running the executive agencies, like the Department of Planning, the Department of Transportation and its subagency, the State Highway Adminsitration, will change.

Plus, the winning candidate, Larry Hogan, ran on a platform that included stopping the Purple Line and Red Line (in Baltimore) light rail projects.

Maryland Transportation Funding "lockbox."  Passed overwhelmingly with slightly more than 80% of the vote.  Note that the Wisconsin Transportation Funding lockbox referendum won by about the same percentage.

I thought this sticker, from the Statehood-Green Party, commenting on how Democrats run as Independents in the At-Large race, was kinda interesting.

DC Metropolitan area.  Unsurprisingly, Muriel Bowser won the Mayoral election comfortably.  Elissa Silverman, a former reporter for the Washington City Paper and Washington Post, and a progressive, won the open At-Large Council seat.   And the candidate of the establishment, Karl Racine, won the race for Attorney General.

In Arlington, the Democratic candidate Alan Howze, lost to the independent, former Republican, John Vihstadt.  And for the open Congressional seat in Fairfax-Loudoun and beyond, the Democrat, Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust, lost pretty convincingly to former Congressional staffer and State Representative Barbara Comstock.

Despite the lack of a Post endorsement, Democrat Hans Riemer won reelection as an At Large member of the Montgomery County Council.

California.  Jerry Brown cruised to reelection for Governor.  The candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction supported by "conservative" school reform interests lost.

In San Francisco, a tax on sugary drinks and two transportation funding measures were approved, the pro-parking "Transportation Balance" charter amendment was not,.  While measures to increase the minimum wage and build or renovate affordable housing were approved, a measure to allow taller buildings at Pier 70 on the waterfront was approved while a tax penalty on short term property ownership ("flipping") was not ("S.F. developers win on waterfront, antispeculation measures," San Francisco Chronicle).

Members of the BART board of directors are elected, and one of seats in San Francisco was up for election and it appears as if the incumbent of 24 years lost.

A transportation funding referendum in Alameda County (Oakland being the largest city) was also approved ("Transportation measures in S.F., Alameda County win support," San Francisco Chronicle).  The measure requires 2/3 of voters to approve, a pretty high bar.

In Sacramento, the strong mayor initiative, which would have favored current Mayor, Kevin Johnson--married to school "reform" advocate Michelle Rhee--is not likely to be approved ("Sacramento’s strong-mayor measure headed to defeat," Sacramento Bee).

Florida.  Not only did Republican Governor Rick Scott win re-election, the Greenlight Pinellas transportation funding referendum lost pretty decisively, 62% voting no ("Voters reject Greenlight Pinellas," Tampa Bay Times).  A similar referendum in Polk County--Clearwater and Lakeland being the largest cities there--also lost ("My Ride/My Road: Polk County Voters Reject 1-Cent Sales Tax Increase," Lakeland Ledger).

Georgia.  In somewhat shocking news, Clayton County voters passed a sales tax increase to fund participation in the MARTA transit system.  See "MARTA's big win in Clayton to impact Atlanta region on micro, macro levels" from the Saporta Report and "Clayton voters embrace MARTA" from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This will extend MARTA bus service to the county--the county dropped its own transit service due to financial exigency.  The Airport MARTA rail station is in Clayton County even though the County wasn't paying into the system.

This is a big deal because a couple years, an attempt to create an Atlanta regional transportation district funded by a sales tax increase was massively defeated.

Massachusetts.  Given the Republican victory for the Governorship, we shouldn't be surprised that the referendum abolishing gas tax indexing lost also ("Mass. voters eliminate gas tax indexing," Boston Globe).

Seattle.  Seattle passed Proposition 1A, which provides increased funding for King County Metro bus service to the city ("Metro bus service to get boost with passage of Prop. 1," Seattle Times).  This is the first successful referendum in Washington State that includes a voter-approved increase in local car registration fees.  The monorail measure lost.

Texas.  Austin did not pass a transportation bond referendum ("Austinites defeat urban rail transportation bond," KXAN-TV) but statewide, the referendum to shift funding from the state's "rainy day fund"--primarily funded through royalties on oil and gas production--was approved ("Texas Election-Road Referendum," San Angelo Standard Times).  Maybe the difference in results had to do with the fact that there will be no out-of-pocket costs for the change at the state level.

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