Richard Conlin: City Council #2, Seattle
Conlin is arguably the City Council’s leading expert on sustainable growth and environmental conservation. With the exception of his efforts to slow the monorail project (a position that now looks prescient rather than obstructionist), Conlin and the Sierra Club have had no major disagreements. Conlin’s perceived weakness is that he’s ineffective, but the Club finds this claim largely overblown.
“Creating alternative transportation policies or habitat recovery plans doesn’t earn you the same attention as pushing a big development scheme,” says Seattle group political committee chair Kevin Fullerton. “But Conlin gets them done. He’s never dithered on issues that matter to us.”
Conlin founded the city's office of Sustainability and the Environment, and has initiated significant reductions in pesticide use on city property. He also defied the mayor’s office to become a key ally for neighborhood activists fighting for the Thornton Creek daylighting plan at Northgate Mall – a brilliant addition of green space that will be incorporated into new development there.
On transportation, Conlin has set a firm goal to “oppose any project that would bring more single-occupancy vehicles into Seattle,” and has promoted city policies to achieve that: “Complete the Streets,” which is a program to ensure that more travel modes are included on Seattle streets, and zoning changes that allow increased urban density.
Conlin is also the only City Council member to develop a plan for diverting traffic around the Alaskan Way Viaduct should the structure fail or prove too expensive to replace – a possible precursor to a no-build strategy. Conlin is clearly working toward a more sensibly designed and environmentally responsible city. We're happy to assist him in chasing that vision.