Opponents of red light cameras in Arlington scored a major victory this week. Thursday, the City of Arlington confirmed that a petition to ban the controversial devices had enough valid signatures to get on the May ballot.
Arlington resident Faith Bussey is not a fan of red light cameras.
"People don't like these things," said Bussey.
Six months ago, she and a handful of other citizens started a petition to get rid of the controversial devices within city limits.
"We had a great team of people working together almost every single day," said Bussey.
Their group, called Citizens for a Better Arlington, turned in more than 11,000 signatures to City Hall in January. Late Wednesday night, the city notified them they'd collected enough signatures to put the issue on the May ballot.
"I am ecstatic," said Bussey. "This is really, really great news."
Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, a vocal supporter of the cameras, said he's not surprised the petition drive was successful and that he welcomes putting this question in the hands of voters.
"Whoever wins, I'm okay with it," said Cluck. "I just want people to understand what it's about."
There are currently 23 red light cameras at various intersections across the city. Cluck and others city leaders cite Arlington Police data that shows crashes are down up to 75 percent at those intersections since the cameras went up in 2007.
"I take exception to the point [opponents make] that it's only to make money for the city," said Cluck. "We make some money off of it, but that's not the most important thing."
City reports indicate the cameras have generated more than $12 million in revenues.
"There are other things we can do to improve safety at every intersection," said Bussey. "I don't believe the city is going to do that as long as they're making money off of a few intersections."
During their next meeting on February 10, the City Council will have take its first of two votes to put the measure on the ballot. That process is more of a formaility, however, because state law requires cities to put validated petitions to a vote of the people.
Bussey and City Council Member Charlie Parker have agreed to hold a debate on the issue later this month. It will take place on Feb. 26 at Humperdinks Restaurant & Brewpub in Arlington, starting at 7:00 p.m. The event is open to the public.