Justin Leighton for Tacoma City Council

Justin Leighton is running for the Tacoma City Council (Position #3 – Central Tacoma/Hilltop)

There are candidates for office who share your values, and then there are candidates who actually get what they are talking about, and will elevate your issues on the public agenda.  If you care about transit in the Puget Sound, then Justin Leighton is the candidate that you want to be serving on the Tacoma City Council.

Justin Leighton has earned the support of the transit advocacy community just as other Puget Sound leaders like Joe Fitzgibbon, Jessyn Farrell and Marko Liias have earned my own support.  I do not live in their districts, but I recognize that their voices are important to support to help bring ST3 to the ballot and to push the envelope to improve transit service across the region.  So I encourage you to join with me to support Justin Leighton with your dollars, your time, and if you live in his district, your vote as well.

Here’s why.

An elected transit advocate who is ready on day one.

Anyone who has done transit advocacy before has experienced the need to slowly and painstakingly educate elected officials about the complex interplay between land use, transportation, sustainability, and economic justice.  It usually takes a lot of time to bring them up to speed.  Not so with Justin Leighton.  Justin served as Chair of the Central Tacoma Neighborhood Council and Chair of the Hilltop Subarea Plan and EIS, which upzoned neighborhoods around Downtown Tacoma, greenlit streetcar expansion, and encouraged transit oriented development.  His leadership helped to bring about critical data-driven changes to Sound Transit’s Long Range Plan Update, including addition of extensions of Tacoma Link to TCC and regional light rail from Tacoma Dome Station to Tacoma Mall.  All of this experience and initiative shows that Justin Leighton is a ready-on-day-one transit advocate who will elevate transit issues in Tacoma and in turn, the rest of the region.

Hard Work, Tenacity, and Commitment.

Justin Leighton is a Tacoman who puts in a lot of unpaid hours to get things right.  He is tenacious at ensuring that the public is well served by the right policies that will improve its future.  He does his homework, asks the right questions, and holds staff accountable.  Such is entirely obvious to the observer of his service as Secretary of Tacoma’s Charter Review Commission (which met in the range of 100 times).  The outcome of that group’s hard work yielded charter language that improved oversight and accountability at the City – changes which voters approved by solid majorities last November.  As Co-Chair of the City of Tacoma Transportation Commission, he has met with local elected officials and a diverse set of commission members over the past year, where they continue to develop Tacoma’s Transportation Master Plan as a document that prioritizes transit and a multimodal strategy for mobility in the city.

Policy and Design Experience.

But Justin is more than just an advocate or a volunteer.  In his capacity as Government Relations Officer at Pierce Transit, he worked with City of Tacoma Public Works engineers to secure transit-supportive street designs for the Pacific Avenue Streetscapes project and for Complete Streets redevelopment of Mildred Street near the Tacoma Community College Transit Center.

This on-the-ground policy experience, and practical understanding of how City policies and right-of-way design can help (or hinder) transit service is just what Tacoma needs today.  If elected, the Council would likely look to Justin for guidance on transit issues, in the same way that they have looked to David Boe for expertise on urban design or to Ryan Mello for insight on land use, conservation and sustainability.

In touch with transit riders and the people of Tacoma.

Justin does not just talk the talk, he walks the walk.  This is a man who takes the bus to work.  He is a professional who rides along with residents who have an average household income of less than $25k/year: the single mom trying to juggle family and a job; the community college student trying to get to class and work; the disabled veteran trying to get to a medical appointment.  That alone gives you balance and perspective to the diversity of issues facing Tacomans today that you don’t necessarily see behind the wheel.

Where other elected officials or candidates will give you a “deer-in-headlights” look if you asked them about their neighborhood bus routes, Justin could tell you what routes run where, how often they run, who rides them, and importantly, how much the service costs.  It also means that he knows firsthand the struggles facing today’s bus riders – buses so full that they have to leave passengers behind, service spans that make it so the working class cannot get to work, and the agony of traffic on I-5 and what the real costs of that congestion are on Tacoma.  He will be the first to tell you that for a city of its size, Tacoma is underserved and that something should be done about it.

So again, if you care about adding another elected official who will vocally support bringing ST3 to the ballot and who understands and cares about your issues, please do yourself a favor and make a donation to Justin Leighton’s campaign today.


Chris Karnes, Editor