1/28/2011Washington: Four Cities Consider Red Light Camera Referendum
Residents in four Washington state cities circulate petitions to force vote on traffic camera ban.
Residents in four cities in Washington state may opt for a ballot vote to ban the use of red light cameras and speed cameras. This week activists launched a coordinated effort to place the future of photo enforcement to a vote of the people in Bellingham, Longview, Monroe and Wenatchee. Each local group is following the battle plan established in Mukilteo where 71 percent of voters last year ousted automated enforcement.
In the wake of that overwhelming vote, Monroe Mayor Robert Zimmerman initially promised to hold a public hearing on plans to install speed cameras. He later reneged and went ahead with his plans without consulting public opinion. Ty Balascio, an organizer with the group Seeds of Liberty became determined to bypass the mayor and take the issue directly to the people. Along with statewide coordinators Nicholas Sherwood of BanCams.com, Tim Eyman of Voters Want More Choices and Alex Rion with the Washington chapter of Campaign for Liberty, Balascio hopes to collect 1000 signatures to qualify for the May ballot.
"The city of Monroe and for-profit companies contracted by the city of Monroe may not install or use automatic ticketing cameras to impose fines from camera surveillance unless such a system is approved by a two-thirds vote of the city council and a majority vote of the people at an election," the proposed initiative states.
The initiative also repeals the existing ordinance authorizing cameras and sets the cost of a citation to that of the least expensive parking ticket. The same language is being offered in Longview by Mike Wallin and Joshua Sutinen who need to secure 2766 signatures. In Bellingham, Johnny Weaver of the Transportation Safety Coalition is seeking 3880. In Wenatchee, Matt Erickson with We The People is looking to line up 2273 signatures.
Each of these local leaders sought help from Eyman, the statewide initiative guru who easily lined up the votes he needed on Election Day in his hometown of Mukilteo. The prospect of having camera programs picked off one by one could stir lawmakers to act on a bill proposed by legislation by state Representative Christopher Hurst (D-Enumclaw) that would require public approval of any new camera programs.
"We want to see if the legislature can do the right thing on their own," Eyman told TheNewspaper. "I've never seen anything to unify the left and right more. Unless you're a red light camera company or a city official, you just hate these obnoxious automatic ticketing cameras."
Other cities could see referendum drives or a statewide initiative might be circulated if the legislature fails to act, Eyman suggested.