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Tyler and Libby are both caring, thoughtful people, but their answers to several questions were disappointing.

Libby said a question about whether city capital spending for streets is in sync with the needs and priorities of the average citizen was "weird." She went down a rabbit hole of semantics to argue that decisions on the capital budget for streets are of no importance; it's goals that matter. Then she all but scolded voters for supposedly misunderstanding city finances.

I'm the person who submitted that question, and I know city finances pretty well. The point she didn't "hear" is: With so few dollars in our capital budget for streets, should we squander them on just any idea that pops up or use our comprehensive plan and broad community input?

What did we spend on closing one block of Adams to vehicles, adding a handful of parking spaces at the visitors center, making Washington more hazardous to bicyclists and pedestrians, and adding a sidewalk but not bike lanes to Hastings, for example?

And why the sudden urge to spend tons of money replacing trees on Sims? Perhaps the average person would rather fix Lawrence Street before it turns to dust. The lack of disabled ramps in that area and elsewhere is shameful. [as Libby noted, some of the excess fire levy revenue is being allocated for accessibility projects, which I support even though it contradicts Libby's suggestion that street projects can't be funded by anything but street capital; there are legitimate ways to leverage our capital budgets).

It's not weird to ask the public to weigh in long before deciding to build one project at the cost of not being able to build others; it's the right thing to do.

Tyler seemed to suggest we can't set meaningful priorities as long as we have significant income inequality, but I wish he would recognize infrastructure is nonetheless a tool for addressing this. We need to make timely, smart investments in infrastructure if we're going to facilitate affordable housing, enhance nonmotorized transportation, mitigate the effects of climate change on people, etc.

The next time someone who stargazes once or twice a year proposes removing street lights, I hope Tyler will point out how the adverse effects of this are felt especially by lower income people. Why should people who can't afford a car have to walk to the bus or the grocery store on a darker, more dangerous street? It compounds the existing disparity of cities prioritizing citizens with cars over those who can't afford (or can't drive) cars.

Libby and Tyler puzzled over a question about a "no-idle" ordinance to reduce carbon and pollution. How would it ever be enforced, they wondered. Would it apply if you're delayed 30 seconds at F and San Juan during rush hour?

Come on now, lots of cities have done this. At the Edmonds ferry line, signs inform drivers of Edmonds' no-idle policy. Like speed limits, the goal is to encourage people to do the right thing for the common good: Don't keep spewing harmful exhaust when your vehicle is parked.

And then there's the deer crisis. Can we please put this aside until we make a dent in affordable housing, climate change, mental health and substance abuse, etc.?

From: Port Townsend council contenders discuss housing, deer, infrastructure at candidate forum

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