Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Post-Election News Conference
November 6, 2002
Good afternoon. Thanks for coming today.
I would like to begin by recognizing Senate Majority Leader Sid Snyder for a remarkable career in the service of this state. As you know, Sid announced his retirement yesterday. Sid has been part of the Washington Legislature for more than 50 years. He actually began work in the Capitol Building in 1949 as an elevator operator. Sid has been an incredible senator, not just for Southwest Washington, but for the entire state. We’ll miss his leadership, wisdom and experience. And I’ll miss Sid as a friend. I wish Sid the best of luck in retirement.
While I am disappointed that the voters did not approve R-51, I am determined to press on. We must find a solution that works. The transportation crisis is too important to ignore. We can’t give up. In spite of yesterday’s vote, our roads and highways are still just as congested today. And they’ll likely be even more congested in the future if we don’t start making improvements.
We all agree there is a serious problem in our state. We all agree that solutions are needed. One clear message emerged in the election: Hundreds of thousands of people across the state said they want transportation improvements; they just didn’t want R-51.
Our own internal polling showed that Washington citizens had two major concerns about the package:
· The cost of improvements, especially in such tough economic times
· And people want even more accountability
We heard the voters on these points. I will call a meeting with the Democratic and Republican leaders from the state Senate and House as soon as those leaders are named. We will begin work on a new transportation package. And we will take into account the economic and accountability concerns of the voters.
Yesterday was not the end of our efforts to improve transportation. It was the beginning. We can’t quit and we won’t quit. The problem remains. And we will not achieve economic vitality for our state without a safe, reliable transportation system. That’s just the way it is. So we must move forward.
I’d like to thank Sen. Slade Gorton for serving as my co-chair in the R-51 effort. We had a great bipartisan campaign. When you’re stuck in traffic, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican.
I’d also like to thank the extraordinary coalition that fought tirelessly for R-51 and our future these past months. Thank you to the many businesses and labor. The State Patrol Troopers’ Association, and police, sheriffs and other members of law enforcement. Our state’s fire fighters and fire chiefs. The AAA and the League of Women Voters. The PTA, schools and education groups. The Grange, local Chambers and civic groups.
And so many others. I thank you all.
We still need to relieve traffic congestion. We still need to fix our deadliest roads and highways. We still need to stop losing $2 billion every year because of traffic delays.
These past months, we’ve built a strong, diverse coalition of supporters. We intend to continue working with them on a transportation improvement package.
I have spent the past several months talking with many Washington citizens all across our state about transportation. Not one single person said to me that they didn’t think we had a problem. The difficulty lies in choosing the best way to try to solve the problem.
We have heard the concerns of Washington citizens. We must all find a way that works. We cannot afford to wait – for the sake of our kids and grandkids.
The transportation problem has been building for years. For too many elections and too many legislative sessions, we have deferred and delayed and postponed. In the meantime, the problem has just grown more and more serious—and more expensive to fix.
We must improve transportation in this state. We must do it by working together – Democrats and Republicans. And we will keep working until we achieve a good plan to get us there.
Thank you. Now I’ll take your questions.