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Phoenix City Council To Set Light Rail Special Election Date

south Phoenix office protest
Bridget Dowd/KJZZ
Valley Metro hosted a party at its south Phoenix office on June 9, 2018, celebrating a planned extension to the light rail. Protesters stationed themselves outside the office.

On Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council is set to vote on a special election focused on light rail. The vote comes after opponents of the light rail extension into south Phoenix gathered enough signatures to get the item on the ballot.

If the council approves, the election will take place Aug. 27, 2019. The exact language on the ballot must still be determined, but it will focus on spending. Light rail opponents want money slated for expansion to instead be spent on other transportation projects like more bus service and road repairs.

Susan Gudino, a south Phoenix resident and treasurer for “Build a Better Phoenix” said in a prepared statement on Jan. 22, “Qualifying for the ballot proves that broad support exists to give voters an opportunity to vote on the costly expansion of light rail. Continually we have (been) misled about the increased traffic congestion, high cost, crime and gentrification caused by light rail. Now we can have an honest debate and vote regarding the future of light rail and whether the money would be better spent on other worthwhile projects.”

The Arizona chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) has filed a lawsuit claiming the initiative’s wording was confusing or unfair and signatures were illegally collected.

In a prepared statement announcing the lawsuit last January, David Martin, president of AGC, said, in part, “This light rail opposition group has had ample opportunity to have their voices heard through three campaigns and hundreds of public stakeholder meetings. They have lost, time and again, and now have set themselves on a course to upend the will of the voters. Their 100-word description is misleading, confusing and unfair. They have also illegally paid their signature gatherers.”

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.