Bothell resident Nick Santos has filed an initiative with the Secretary of State’s office that proposes to rename the Skagit River Bridge the “Tim Eyman Memorial Bridge.”
But the man himself says don’t hold your breath.
“I don’t think there’s a huge danger of having this bridge named after me and having (Gov. Jay) Inslee at the ribbon-cutting ceremony,” Eyman said Wednesday morning.
The initiative, filed Wednesday, says that Interstate 5, from the Mount Vernon College Way exit to the Burlington George Hopper exit, should be named for Eyman because of his efforts “to reduce Washington state tax revenues and the collapse of the Skagit River Bridge on May 23, 2013.”
Santos said Thursday that he wanted to show people how easy it is to file an initiative. It cost him $5 and a couple of hours of research.
“The hard part, of course, is getting the signatures,” Santos said. “Having state governments that don’t have the tax revenue they need has significant consequences.”
Santos should know. He just moved to Washington a little under two years ago - from budget-challenged California, where he was a student at U.C. Santa Barbara.
He got the idea for the petition from a website, nwprogressive. org, which posted a column two days after the bridge’s collapse. The post included a graphic indicating the Tim Eyman Memorial Bridge was closed over a picture of the collapsed bridge. The post also described Eyman’s initiatives that have reduced transportation funding since 1999.
“I thought it would be interesting to make this into an initiative,” Santos said. “It’s the tool Tim Eyman uses.”
The joke of naming the bridge after Eyman was initially made two days after the bridge’s collapse by a Daily KOS blogger. Eyman said it was “moderately funny” then, not so much two months after the fact. Eyman, a political activist who has championed several anti-tax measures over the past 15 years, called the initiative filing “silly.”
“I just think it’s always so silly when opponents of our initiatives attack me personally as if I have tremendous power,” he said. “I have a great team who works super hard each year to give voters greater voice in their government.”
The bridge was struck by an overheight load on May 23, which collapsed one span into the Skagit River.
Eyman defended his use of initiatives to change state government, saying sometimes people vote for his initiatives in spite of his reputation.
“Maybe if there was a little more trust in government then voters wouldn’t see a need for our initiatives in the first place,” Eyman said.
Santos would need to collect at least 246,372 valid signatures for the initiative to be considered. The initiative is one proposed to the state Legislature. If passed, the Legislature could enact the initiative into law or it could be sent to the ballot in the next general election, according to the Secretary of State’s website.
“I don’t think I have the resources to do that,” Santos said. “I think it would be cool to get some signatures.”
The Secretary of State’s office says the percent of invalid signatures can be as high as 25 percent. As such, the office recommends collecting at least 320,000 signatures for a petition.