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Politics / Issues

Voters Halt Greenlight Pinellas

Lottie Watts
WUSF Public Media

Voters in Pinellas County have rejected the Greenlight Pinellas transportation plan. 

The referendum included a one-cent sales tax increase to fund light rail and bus service improvements. It was rejected 62 percent to 38 percent. 

Opposition was headed by a group calling itself No Tax For Tracks.

"This is clearly a mandate from the people of Pinellas County that they don't want to pay more taxes and they don't want a light rail system," said Barb Haselden of No Tax For Tracks.  "I think that from our travels, in talking to thousands of people this year, everyone wants a better bus system for the public transportation. I think everyone agrees that this system needs to be fixed. But they do not want a rail. They are not interested in going that way."

ChrisSteinocher, co-chair of the Yes on Greenlight campaign, called the defeat "hard to take" but acknowledged asking people to pay more taxes is a "difficult conversation to have."

"There's got to be a value statement that resonates with them, and maybe we didn't have the right conversations, maybe we didn't have the right statement," Steinocher said. "I'm not surprised, I know how hard it is to ask people to do something different."

The pro-transit forces indicated they'll try again, pointing to other communities where similar measures failed.

"In a number of other metropolitan areas such as St. Louis, Denver, Phoenix, transportation measures didn't make it their first time out - we are not disillusioned," said Yes on Greenlight co-chair Don Ewing. "All of those areas now have thriving transit systems that we strive to have in Pinellas County."