11/7/2012Three More Cities Vote to Ban Red Light Cameras
Three cities vote to ban red light cameras in California and Texas while two Washington cities split and a New Jersey town allows them to stay.
Tuesday proved to be another bad day for photo enforcement firms as they lost further ground at the ballot box. Questions on whether red light cameras or speed cameras ought to be banned came before municipal voters in California, New Jersey, Texas and Washington state.
Voters in League City, Texas spoke loudest against the use of red light cameras. At the end of the evening, 77 percent of the electorate sent a message to the city council that they wanted the automated ticketing machines removed.
"There is absolutely no doubt now that voters in Texas have resoundingly rejected the entire premise of photo enforcement," Byron Schirmbeck, director of League City Camera Scam, told TheNewspaper. "Five out of five times that voters in diverse cities and towns have been given a chance to have their say at the ballot box the cameras have been rejected by as much as 77 percent."
The message was reinforced with photo enforcement foes pulling off a clean sweep against incumbent city council members. Heidi Thiess defeated the number-one camera supporter, Councilman Mick Phalen, and Geri Bentley ousted Councilman Phyllis Sanborn who had voted to approve the camera contract. Todd Kinsey opposes cameras heads to a run off after landing 49.9 percent of the vote against two other candidates for an open council seat.
The most hotly contested battle took place in Murrieta, California where Tea Party activist Diana Serafin worked a continuous, door-to-door campaign to secure enough signatures to put a red light camera ban on the ballot. ATS and arch-rival Redflex Traffic Systems teamed up to defeat her effort, spending heavily on campaign mailers designed to convince people to support photo ticketing. It did not work.
"People told me they don't believe anything on the five flyers sent out," Serafin wrote in an email to supporters. "I made sure to tell everyone how much money the camera companies invested to fight me. They spend $105,000 to my $2000!"
With all ballots counted, the camera ban won with 57 percent of the vote. In Newport Beach, city leaders decided to head off the possibility that a future council majority could decide to implement cameras. With all the votes tallied, residents favoring the camera ban won with 57 percent of the vote.
In Washington state, voters had a second chance at voting to advise city council members that they want red light cameras and speed cameras removed. In Monroe, 70 percent of voters want the cameras gone, an increase from last year when 68 percent voted against the devices.
"Washington's voters have once again repudiated ticketing cameras," Evergreen State initiative guru Tim Eyman told TheNewspaper. "They despise the sleazy red light camera companies and the city officials that whore themselves for them. The voters' message is: Take them down and go away."
The news was not all bad for the camera industry. In Longview, residents repeated their vote in favor of speed cameras in school zones, though residents made the same vote last year alongside a vote to ban speed cameras. Pohatcong Township, New Jersey also became the first jurisdiction in the nation to accept red light cameras with a 54 percent vote. American Traffic Solutions (ATS) currently has cameras issuing citations at two intersections in the town, but Mayor James Kern III pushed to have voters weigh in on whether the automated ticketing machines should be kept when the contract expires in 2016.
View a complete list of cities that have voted on the issue of photo enforcement.