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Monroe voters to weigh in on traffic cameras, but it may not resolve the debate

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By Alejandro Dominguez
Herald Writer
MONROE -- Voters will get a chance to weigh in on Nov. 8 whether the city should continue with its traffic-enforcement camera program after September 2013.
Proposition No. 3 is one of three Monroe measures voters will decide in the general election. The nonbinding vote asks if the city's contract with Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Systems should be renewed two years from now.
The council approved the proposition for the ballot within days of authorizing a lawsuit against different groups that sponsored Monroe Initiative No. 1.
That measure sought to force a binding vote on the future of the cameras now. City officials contended it was legally flawed -- a conclusion reached by the state Court of Appeals in ruling on a similar initiative in Bellingham.
Still, those challenging the cameras in Monroe say Proposition No. 3 misses the mark.
"The city has put before the voters the question of do they want the cameras forever or do they want them for two more years?" said Brian Kohn, a member of Seeds of Liberty, one of the groups that sponsored Initiative No. 1. "The question should be, do you want the cameras to be taken down now? Yes or no."
Seeds of Liberty is one of the groups named as defendants in the lawsuit. The city believed the Initiative No. 1 to be so legally flawed that it needed to be kept off the ballot.
That decision is currently under review by Snohomish County Superior Court judge George Bowden.
At a recent hearing, the judge suggested that the city may have erred in rejecting the initiative outright, and that at least part of it -- a section that would force regular advisory votes on the cameras -- could have gone to voters.
He asked to hear more legal argument before making his decision. The judge's decision is expected in the coming weeks, but it will come too late for voters in November.
Meanwhile, backers of Monroe Proposition 3 contend the cameras are needed now. They offer no statistics from Monroe, but claim the devices are improving safety by making people more attentive while driving.
"If people are not running red lights and speeding then there would be no issue," said Eadye Martinson, Monroe's deputy city clerk. She wrote the voters pamphlet statement urging support for Proposition No. 3.
There is no opposition statement in the voters pamphlet on Proposition No. 3. because the committee tasked with writing the statement was unable to agree on language. The principal combatants were Mukilteo-based activist Tim Eyman, who helped sponsor Initiative No. 1, and former city councilman Chad Minnick.
Monroe has enforcement cameras operating at three locations: two school zones and the intersection of North Kelsey Street and U.S. 2. There also are plans to install cameras at the intersection of U.S. 2 and Chain Lake Road.
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422;
Story tags » MonroeElectionsLocal electionsTraffic

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