By Alejandro Dominguez Herald Writer
Now, the Monroe City Council can decide either to adopt the ordinance’s restrictions on cameras as new law, or put it on the ballot for voters to decide.
Monroe Initiative No . 1 — the first initiative in city history — seeks to remove cameras that have been installed and to reduce fines from camera-generated tickets. The initiative also would require voter approval before any more enforcement cameras can be installed.
The Snohomish County Auditor’s Office on Friday determined there are more than enough signatures from Monroe voters for the initiative to be valid. More than 2,100 signatures were submitted by supporters. The auditor’s office stopped counting at 1,009 valid signatures. The measure needed 999.
Stopping the count is common practice after the required number has been met, county elections manager Garth Fell said.
Supporters were ecstatic.
“The initiative isn’t asking voters ‘are ticketing cameras good or bad?’ It’s asking ‘who should decide: the people or the politicians?'” Mukilteo initiative activist Tim Eyman said in an email. “The outpouring of support for Monroe Initiative No. 1 shows that the people want to be the decision makers.”
Eyman helped with the Monroe initiative after spearheading a similar effort last year that was successful in Mukilteo.
On Thursday, Monroe police began <a href="http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20110616/NEWS01/706169921
“>issuing $124 fines to people who roll through red lights in front of traffic enforcement cameras. Through June 22, they also will be using cameras to issue speeding tickets in school zones in front of Fryelands Elementary School on Fryelands Boulevard and Frank Wagner Elementary School on Main Street.
Mayor Robert Zimmerman has asked for an executive session with the city council Tuesday night to discuss the initiative. City officials say the discussion can occur behind closed doors because it involves legal matters.
Monroe has a contract with Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Systems. It earlier approved an ordinance allowing traffic cameras.
“We will wait until we hear from legal counsel and the council for direction” on what to do with the initiative, Zimmerman said.
The signatures were gathered by members of Seeds of Liberty, an activist group. Group founder Ty Balascio was happy the petition got enough signatures. He believes the issue will get even more attention now that the police are issuing tickets.
“It affects more people directly,” he said.
Eyman is working with others in Longview and Bellingham who are pressing their cities for votes on cameras.
“Monroe is the first domino to fall,” he said.
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; firstname.lastname@example.org.