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Herald staff | needtoknow@heraldnet.com
Published: Wednesday, November 9, 2011, 4:03 p.m.

Are traffic cameras poison for politicians?

MUKILTEO -- Call it the red-light camera effect.

At least Mukilteo activist Tim Eyman says there is reason to believe such a thing exists.

Not only did voters in three Washington communities line up solidly against the automated traffic-enforcement devices on Tuesday, some politicians who were considered big fans of cameras found themselves trailing at the polls.

"I think it is hugely significant on election night that we didn't just win at the ballot box on the issue. We scored some scalps," Eyman said Wednesday.

In Lynnwood, longtime City Councilman Ted Hikel, one of the community's most vocal camera supporters, was behind challenger Sid Roberts in early returns. In Bellingham, a voter backlash against a plan to use red-light cameras was linked to the possible defeat of Mayor Dan Pike.

Voters in Bellingham, Longview and Monroe all made clear they aren't camera fans, with early returns showing nearly two-thirds against the devices.

Because all of the votes were advisory, and the circumstances are different in each community, it is up to city officials to decide what happens next.

Eyman said there is a messages for elected officials: Don't buy into the notion that camera opposition comes from a vocal minority who like to barrel through intersections.

In 2010, Mukilteo became the first Washington community to vote out enforcement cameras. The city dropped its plans before the cameras were ever used to issue a ticket.

Eyman spent much of this year working with anti-camera activists around the state pressing similar initiatives.

He said he'll continue to work to give individual communities the opportunity to vote on camera programs.

A statewide initiative to ban cameras would be a slam dunk, Eyman said, but "it is frankly not as fun as picking these guys off, one city at a time."


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