4/11/2008Missouri: Voters Elect Camera Foe
Running against the use of red light cameras helped a new city councilman win his seat in Washington, Missouri.
Among the candidates vying for three city council seats in Washington, Missouri on Tuesday, one made it clear that he was firmly opposed to the use of red light cameras. Candidate Guy W. Midkiff beat Gregory A. Skornia in Third Ward by just six votes.
"The red light cameras put me over the edge," Midkiff told TheNewspaper in an interview. "It's a powerful issue."
Midkiff had gone door-to-door to earn support in the district representing about 2000 registered voters. Although residents held a number of different opinions on how best to solve various local problems, opposition to red light cameras was near unanimous. In a subdivision near a camera intersection, for example, residents complained that they were being kept up at night by the distracting photo flash. Others handed Midkiff the notices of violation received in the mail to show how unfair it was, for example, to be ticketed for technicalities such as being a few feet over the stop line when the light changed to red.
As a first step on the city council, Midkiff says he is looking at convincing his colleagues to issue only warnings while the U.S. District Court in Saint Louis hears a legal challenge seeking to overturn every citation issued in the first city to implement photo enforcement in the state. Otherwise, he says, Washington could find itself in a difficult position if the federal court forces refunds. Ultimately he hopes to use the persuasive power of studies that show red light cameras increase accidents to convince his new colleagues to pull the plug on the program for good.