As a longtime Mercer Island resident who works in Seattle, whose husband works at the UW, who volunteers at the Chinese School in Bellevue, attends Yoga classes on the Eastside, and whose daughter participated in a multitude of extracurricular activities both east and west of Mercer Island, I have followed the ongoing I-90 tolling saga carefully. I have been following the Mercer Island City Council’s actions to prevent I-90 tolling.
A huge part of stopping approval of I-90 tolling is organized, vocal and steadfast community refusal to accept tolling the federal interstate. Islanders have been clear: we overwhelmingly do not support tolls on I-90. We are organized, thanks to Lisa Belden and Eva Zemplenyi, and we’re still ready to resist tolling going forward. This fight is making progress but is far from over. And to keep the opposition strong, we need a City Council that will not surrender to this challenge.
We cannot have representing us individuals who have stated, “...Basically half of Islanders will have to pay a toll one way or the other...” and, “I understand that no one gets a free ride, and I am not asking for that...” (Dan Grausz, Jan. 7, 2013, City Council meeting, at 2 hours, 48 minutes). Additionally, in Dan Grausz’s Feb. 18, 2013, email to constituents, he states that we should be “willing to do a reality check here and not tilt at windmills believing” that we can convince the Legislature not to approve tolling. Dating back to his Dec. 2, 2008, Islander Newsletter to recent comments to Islanders and the Washington state Legislature, Dan Grausz has repeated his belief that tolling in one direction is inevitable and that Mercer Islanders must pay their “fair share.” His words reveal him not to be the bulwark Mercer Islanders need to protect them from tolling.
Compromise may be necessary at some point in a struggle, but not at the outset of a battle to prevent an inequitable, harmful, unprecedented tax of disproportionate impact. Tolling — with its effects of congestion, increased pollution due to this increased congestion, decreased mobility and resulting decreased economic vibrancy — is not inevitable, but only if those who represent us share that undiluted passion are willing to act on it, and lead determinedly. Kevin Scheid will be that leader.