Red Light Camera Ban Ushers in New Mayor

Local activists in Arlington pushing to ban the controversial red-light cameras emerged victorious in May, spurring record turnout for the city in which there was also a contested mayoral election.

Nearly 2,000 new voters and over 7,000 new municipal voters made their voices heard among the 26,694 total ballots cast. This was the highest turnout for a municipal race in over a decade, with the last mayoral race in 2013 seeing only 11,199 total votes cast.

For months, residents in Arlington had been busy drumming up support for a petition that would place a charter amendment on May’s ballot. Their efforts garnered over 11,000 signatures from registered voters. The hard work of promoting “Proposition 1” up to Election Day paid off in an overwhelming 19% margin of victory.

Jeff Williams, the candidate who ousted incumbent Mayor Robert Cluck, campaigned on the red light camera issue. Williams promised to look for preventative measures to increase safety at intersections instead of relying on punitive cameras to fine already irresponsible drivers. His campaign was as successful as the ban and nearly statistically identical with a 19% margin of victory. The total number of votes cast for Williams was less than a 1% difference from the total number of votes cast for the ban.

Arlington became the 7th city in Texas with a charter amendment banning red light cameras currently on the books. As the Texas House leadership, including Speaker Straus and State Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso), have stalled the state-wide red light camera ban bills in this 84th session, successful activists are looking to expand petition operations by helping others push similar initiatives in their communities.

In the weeks following Arlington’s vote, the Longview City Council voted unanimously not to renew their contract with the red-light camera vendor. The Cleveland City Council is currently considering allowing the issue to go before local constituents for a vote.

It appears that local officials around the state are now sensing the issue’s popularity and are taking notice of the potential consequences of ignoring the will of their citizens, as they should.

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