11/6/2012Red Light Cameras Become Hot Campaign Topic in Texas Town
Red light camera proponents on League City, Texas city council are targeted for defeat by photo ticketing opponents.
Three city council seats are up for grabs in League City, Texas and the candidates are lining up in opposition to the use of automated ticketing machines. The Houston suburb is one of five municipalities in which voters today will have an opportunity to ban or recommend a ban on the use of automated ticketing machines.
A League City resident attempted to circulate an immediate ban on the use of red light cameras on the November 6 ballot, and city leaders responded by proposing their own camera ban initiative that would only take effect in 2014 after the contract with Redflex Traffic Systems runs out. Redflex filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block the measure from coming before voters. Councilman Mick Phalen, a vocal supporter of keeping that contract, is looking to defend his council seat against challenger Heidi Thiess.
"So far we, our community, have been fined $5 million by Redflex, a company out of Australia," Heidi Thiess said during a city council meeting in August. "We now know that accidents are up two-thirds... So if Redflex would like to go to the mat with us and say that they have made our intersections safer, I beg to differ. I urge you stand strong against this company from Australia that's trying to come and tell us what we may and may not vote on in our community."
Accident data suggest (view statistics) the cameras have failed to reduce accidents in League City. That is one of the reasons camera foe Geri Bentley is looking to oust incumbent Councilman Phyllis Sanborn, the last remaining council member who voted in favor of the red light cameras.
"I believe that we should be more concerned with League City residents' safety and less concerned about lining the pockets of select individuals who work with and for Redflex," Bentley wrote on her campaign website. "The voters should have the ultimate decision."
Todd Kinsey opposes red light cameras and is seeking an open council seat. Calling the red light camera program a "cash cow," Kinsey said he early voted late last month, casting a "yes" vote in favor of the red light camera ban.
"Many people are saying this is the most important election in our lifetime," Kinsey wrote. "While that may be a slight exaggeration it is certainly the most important election since Reagan defeated Carter.
Byron Schirmbeck, director of League City Camera Scam believes League City's traffic camera vendor has already conceded the election.
"I don't think Redflex has done anything to influence the vote down here, I haven't heard about any mailings and I haven't seen any signs up," Schirmbeck told TheNewspaper. "I guess we will see how big the 'wide circle of friends' Redflex sales manager and League City resident Lee Buckels has on election night."
Last year, Dennis OKeeffe won a council seat by running on a "no red light cameras" platform.