A red light camera ban in Arlington has officially made its way onto the May 9 council election ballot.
Eight of the nine Arlington City Council members voted Tuesday at the city council meeting for a second and final time to put an amendment on the May 9 ballot that would ban red light cameras in the city.
Kelly Canon, vice president of Arlington Tea Party, presented a petition to the city with enough signatures to put the amendment on the City Council agenda. Council member Charlie Parker motioned to take the amendment off the consent agenda so it could be voted on separately. He is the only council member who chose not to vote for or against the amendment.
“I cannot vote no on this particular item,” Parker said. “We know that if you remove these cameras accidents will increase and fatalities will increase – more of our citizens harmed because of the removal of these cameras. I will not put my name on a document that will increase the injuries of our citizens.”
Two speakers voiced opposition to the amendment to remove red light cameras. Andy Taylor, a lawyer for American Traffic Solutions, said the petition is illegal.
“This is in fact an illegal referendum,” Taylor said. “The referendum is not a right to the citizens of Arlington. The transportation code gives [the council] a discretionary right to have a program or not for red light cameras. The citizens are not able legally to eradicate that discretionary right.”
Canon said the Arlington Tea Party and Citizens for a Better Arlington followed every step and it is not possible that the petition is illegal.
“I know right now it's going to get put on the ballot,” she said. “That's the official part. There's no way that this illegal. This is state law. We followed every step in the book. “
Citizens for a Better Arlington and Arlington Tea Party collected signatures for the petition. The City Secretary’s Office verified 9,382 signatures of the 11,405 collected, more than 5 percent of registered voters in Arlington. By state law, the petition gathered enough signatures to require City Council to put the amendment on the May 9 ballot, said Jay Warren, City of Arlington marketing communications manager.
Arlington has 23 red light cameras. When one of the cameras catches a driver in a red light violation, the ticket is mailed to the registered vehicle owner with a $75 fine. The offenses are civil violations, not criminal, so a warrant can’t be issued if the fine goes unpaid. The nonpayment of the ticket also does not go on the driver’s credit, because according to the Texas Transportation Code, local authorities can’t provide information about a civil penalty. The only incentive for violators to pay their ticket is they have to renew their vehicle registration in person.