By Oscar Halpert, Herald Writer
MUKILTEO — His name is virtually synonymous with the statewide anti-tax movement.
Since 1999, Tim Eyman has made use of the initiative petition process to limit car tab fees and property taxes.
Meanwhile in Mukilteo, the city where he makes his home, Eyman has avoided local politics.
At least until he learned the Mukilteo City Council last week agreed to hire an Arizona company to install cameras to catch red-light runners and speeders along the Mukilteo Speedway, the state highway that serves as the city’s major north-south thoroughfare. Mayor Joe Marine cast the tie-breaking vote to approve the contract.
On Monday, Eyman appeared at City Hall to kick off a petition drive for an Aug. 17 ballot initiative challenging the city’s contract with American Traffic Solutions.
That’s the Tempe, Ariz., company that would install cameras along the Speedway at Harbour Pointe Boulevard, once details are worked out with the city.
The company also is expected to install cameras to monitor speeding in front of Olympic View Middle School in early September.
Eyman says he’s opposed to the cameras, whether the intention is to slow drivers down or keep them from running red lights.
“Let’s let the voters decide whether or not we want red light cameras,” Eyman said.
It’s the second petition in the city’s history. Another one several years ago attempted to force the council to locate a new City Hall on 47th Avenue, several blocks away from where it is now. It failed.
“We firmly believe that Mukilteo’s citizens oppose this Big Brother, profit-making policy and oppose the process by which it was adopted,” Eyman wrote in a letter to Marine and the council.
The initiative calls for a limit on fines and would require voter approval for any future camera light effort.
Eyman’s seeking 1,803 valid signatures to get the measure on the ballot. He says he supports the efforts of red light camera crusader Nick Sherwood, who leads the Pierce County group BanCams. Sherwood’s group has a Web site, Bancams.com, and has protested the red light cameras.
“It was just rude,” Eyman said. “This is an extremely polite bedroom community … To have the City Council just say, ‘We’re going to slap (up) cameras and start treating our citizens like an ATM machine…’ ”
Eyman’s efforts may be unnecessary.
Marine said Tuesday he asked city attorney Angela Belbeck to determine whether city regulations would prohibit an initiative challenging the contract.
And council President Randy Lord, who voted for the cameras, said Tuesday he would meet with Marine and City Administrator Joe Hannan to talk about bringing the subject back to the council for review on June 7. The council could agree to rescind their earlier decision, Marine said.
“Before (Eyman) filed the petition, I had some dialogue with other council members,” Lord said. “One thing I’m proud of with our council is we’re willing to look at ideas.”
Councilman Kevin Stoltz, who was absent during the vote last week, said he would have voted against the contract.
Oscar Halpert: 425-339-3429; firstname.lastname@example.org.