Voters Halt Greenlight Pinellas
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."