Tim Eyman and supporters of Redmond Initiative 1 collected about 150 signatures at the on Saturday, kicking off an effort to get controversial banned in Redmond.
“The response has been extremely positive,” said Eyman about the day’s results.
Supporters of Initiative 1 must gather 3,845 signatures by June 1 in order to have the initiative on the November ballot.
Redmond Initiative 1 is spearheaded by Scott Harlan, a local businessman who has lived and worked in and around Redmond his entire life, and BanCams.com, a husband-and-wife-run grassroots organization that fights similar camera programs all over the state.
Redmond recently introduced red-light cameras eastbound on Redmond Way at 148th Avenue Northeast, east and westbound on Northeast 40th Street at 156th Avenue Northeast, and westbound on Union Hill Road and northbound on Avondale Road where those two roads intersect. A speed zone camera is also located at Einstein Elementary, 18025 NE 116th St.
Supporters of the initiative want to see the cameras put to a vote in November and hope that Redmond’s citizens will reject a program that they feel the city has implemented without voter authority.
“If we put this onto a ballot and the citizens of Redmond say 60/40, 70/30 that we are not in favor of this, that in and of itself should send a pretty loud message to the council that this is a program that they may advocate but their citizens don’t,” said Harlan.
According to Harlan, opposition to the cameras comes in many different forms. Some don’t like the idea of being monitored by nameless, faceless cameras. Others feel the cameras themselves cause accidents because drivers panic when they see them or are startled by the sudden flash that occurs when the camera snaps a picture. Still others think the program is designed more for revenue generation than safety and law enforcement.
“It’s a program that just doesn’t feel right in our city,” said Harlan.
Eyman and other Initiative 1 supporters feel that Redmond’s mayor and City Council shouldn’t be the ones to determine the implementation and ultimate fate of the cameras.
“The mayor and the City Council have a built-in conflict of interest. Of course they’re going to be in favor of the cameras, they’re the ones who get all the money,” said Eyman. “We think it should be the people who decide because they’re not conflicted at all.”
For its part, the city says that it will evaluate the cameras at the end of a yearlong pilot program. Mayor John Marchione said in a statement Friday that the initiative “is the wrong process at the wrong time."
He added, “We have a process already established where we will evaluate the data and determine at the end of the year whether or not to continue the program.”
Eyman is skeptical of that claim.
“There hasn’t been a single city in the entire nation that has ever done a pilot program in favor of the cameras and not continued them,” said Eyman. “Once they get hooked on the money they just can’t get rid of them even if they wanted to.”
This claimed addiction to revenue is a big part of Eyman’s and Harlan’s opposition to the cameras.
“You become addicted to it and you have to have that revenue and turning it off is not an option,” said Harlan.
Harlan feels that once the city gets a taste of that revenue it will want more, and then there will be more cameras and more threats to personal liberty.
The city has charged that much of the support for Initiative 1 seems to be coming from outside of Redmond, a claim that Eyman disputes.
“The only people who are signing the petition are from Redmond,” said Eyman. “The only people who are going to be able to vote on it are people from Redmond.”