8/20/2014Two Ohio Cities To Vote On Traffic Camera Bans
Residents of Cleveland and Maple Heights, Ohio submit signatures to place speed camera and red light camera ban on the ballot.
Red light cameras and speed cameras have been put to a vote at the ballot box in eight Ohio towns, more than anywhere else in the nation. Residents of Cleveland and Maple Heights on Monday submitted petitions that to raise that figure to ten.
In Cleveland, volunteers spent four years circulating petitions to gather 12,930 signatures. If the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections certifies at least 6013 as valid, the city council will have to put the measure either on the November 4 ballot or call a special election in February. September 5 is the deadline to have a measure ready for the fall election. Proponents of the measure say the public is enthusiastic about the camera ban.
"It's probably the easiest petition that I've ever circulated to get people to sign," Jason Sonenshein with the group Liberate Ohio told TheNewspaper. "People are very eager to sign this. It's an issue that voters generally feel passionate about. Everyone who drives through Cleveland sees one or more of these cameras on a daily basis."
If the petition is certified for the ballot, voters will be asked to approve a charter amendment that borrows language that has successfully been used in several other cities to block the use of automated ticketing machines.
"The city, including its various boards, agencies and departments, shall not use any traffic law photo-monitoring device for the enforcement of a qualified traffic law violation, unless a law enforcement officer is present at the location of the device and personally issues the ticket to the alleged violator at the time and location of the violation," the proposal states.
In Maple Heights, a bipartisan group of activists filed over 1200 signatures to place a photo ticketing ban on the ballot. It will go on the ballot if elections officials certify 694 of them as valid. Already, city officials have taken steps to keep the measure from reaching voters.
Christopher Finney, attorney for the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST), says he will sue the city if it tries to block the people from having a voice on the traffic camera issue. Finney's group promises to go "city by city" to take down the cameras if it has to. This is no idle threat, considering voters in Ashtabula, Cincinnati, Chillicothe, Heath, Garfield Heights, South Euclid and Steubenville have banned speed cameras and red light cameras.