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Mukilteo City Red Light Camera Measure (November 2010)

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A Mukilteo City Red Light Camera Measure was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in the city of Mukilteo which is in Snohomish County.

Though measure was approved by residents it will not be implemented in the city.

  • YES 6,396 (70.71%)Approveda
  • NO 2,649 (29.29%)[1]

This measure asked voters if they wanted to make it so that a public vote would be required if the city wanted to install red light or speed zone cameras anywhere within the city limits. The measure will also restrict the fines which could be collected to $20, the least expensive parking violation.[2] Tim Eyman, the sponsor of the petition drive to get this measure to a vote, noted that if this is approved in Mukilteo, other cities which are looking to implement cameras could be facing similar petition drives and proposals by citizens.[3]

Eyman was surprised the measure had such a large lead, but was glad the people got their vote and is hoping more measures like this will come to a vote across the state. City officials noted that they were pretty sure this would be approved because people do not like more government controls.[4]

Background

The city had planned to place red light and speeding cameras in different areas within the city, negotiations between an Arizona company were also being discussed. Eyman, a long time petitioner, did not want the camera's in the city which he thought of just as a way for the city to get more money. So he initiated a petition drive to stop the city from installing the cameras. The city then decided to not put up the cameras, but Eyman continued with his petition drive, noting that the city could still decide to put them up in the future. If the petition drive was successful then at least there could potentially be a law in place that would require resident approval before any cameras are put up.[5] The petitioners turned in over the 1,793 required signatures to get the issue on the ballot. The council then had the option to approve the issue as a law or put it to a vote. It was later decided that it would go to the November election to be decided on by residents.[6]

Lawsuit against Vote

A lawsuit had been filed by a citizens group attempting to get the issue off of the November ballot. Tim Eyman, who petitioned for the issue, stated that he believed the Arizona company which was going to install the cameras was behind the lawsuit though it could not be confirmed.[7] Noted was the fact that even if people do not agree with the issue, allowing it to go through to a vote is what is essential to the democratic process in the city and the right of initiative.[8]

A County Superior Court judge had dismissed the lawsuit, the reason being that there was no merit in the claims made by the group who wanted to stop the vote. The issue now was free to be voted on, proponents were happy with the result.[9] Though this measure will be voted on, the Supreme Court decided that it would hear the case on if this was a valid initiative; though the case probably will occur after the election. Those who had brought the issue were disappointed the court would not hear it before the election.[10]

Implementation

The city council decided not to implement this measure, noting that it was the council's choice to do what was in the best interest of the people and they felt that red light cameras would help people so the vote against them was not valid. Tim Eyman tried to speak at a recent council meeting, noting that this was a vote by the people and is therefore a law which does not need legislative implementation, but council members did not want to listen to the arguments with some members even leaving the session so as not to hear Eyman's arguments. Council members are trying to prove that the vote was just advisory though no where in the ballot language is it noted that the vote would not be binding. Eyman will likely pursue this further so the cameras are not put in place in the city.[11]

Those in favor of this petition had asked the State Supreme Court to rule on the issue. The fear was that if this is allowed then it could set a precedent of other cities not implementing initiatives approved or defeated in a legal vote by residents. A lawyer for the city noted that it was valid to make the vote advisory, otherwise the city would never have allowed the measure on the ballot int he first place.[12]

The State Supreme Court ruled that indeed red light camera issues are not subject to referendums therefore this measure remains invalid. This ruling also invalidates other pending red light petition drives in other cities in the state. Eyman voiced his opinion that the ruling was wrong and would continue to fight for the right for red light cameras to be repealed through a vote.[13]

Additional reading

References