Red-light cameras will soon be turned off in Arlington.
While lawmakers are still debating whether to shut off the cameras statewide, Arlington residents headed to the polls in higher-than-expected numbers Saturday to weigh in on the issue.
With all 28 precincts reporting, 59 percent of voters supported banning the cameras.
“Arlington has spoken,” said Kelly Canon, an Arlington Tea Party member and one of those who gathered more than 11,000 signatures on a petition to force city leaders to put the issue on the ballot. “This should be a loud enough and clear enough message.”
She and others gathered at Mavericks Grill in Arlington on Saturday night, saying the cameras are unconstitutional and dangerous.
“People start stopping on a dime, and people find themselves rear-ended,” Canon said. “And the fact that the cameras can’t identify the driver and are just taking a picture of the license plate and sending a bill to the owner — it’s not a true and fair representation.”
Supporters say the system — which photographs red-light runners and mails a $75 ticket to the vehicle owner — makes the streets safer. Opponents disagree, saying that the cameras merely generate money for the city while rear-end crashes are on the rise at intersections with cameras.
Jody Weiderman of Arlington tried to keep the issue off the ballot, asking a Tarrant County judge to block the city from calling for a vote. State District Judge Tom Lowe dismissed the request.
“I think it’s a great program and it needs to stay in the city of Arlington,” Weiderman said in court.
Law enforcers have said studies show that the number of tickets is dropping, which means fewer people are running red lights.
Once Arlington receives a final vote supporting the ban, officials will move forward with eliminating the cameras and canceling the city’s long-term contract, said Robert Fugate, an assistant city attorney.
“The city will give American Traffic Solutions the result of the elections, and we will move forward with removing the cameras,” he said. “I’m sure it will be addressed at the very next council meeting.”
As for the state, lawmakers have until the end of the 84th legislative session — June 1 — to decide whether to turn off cameras across Texas. The Senate has approved a measure to ban the cameras at intersections. The measure is pending before a House committee.
“I do believe Austin was sitting back and waiting on us before they moved,” Canon said. “Now we have spoken. Austin now needs to act.
“Get off the dime right now.”
A look at unofficial results for other Tarrant County propositions:
More than 93 percent of voters approved extending the Crime Control and Prevention District and the sales tax for the district for 20 years, with all votes tallied.
Voters rejected a plan geared toward limiting road work on one of the city’s main corridors — Glade Road.
With all the votes tallied, 55.6 percent of the voters rejected a plan that called for completing a 5-foot sidewalk on the south side of the road.
The resident-led proposal called for the city to add left-turn lanes and roundabouts deemed necessary by polling of residents. But it would not have added medians or allowed the road to be widened or ditches along some sections of the roadway to be filled in.
Supporters of the measure appeared to throw in the towel after the early vote was posted online.
“Regardless of the circumstances the voters have spoken and we appear to have lost by a significant margin,” according to a Facebook post by Glade Road Colleyville, a group that supported the plan. “A lot of you fought hard and we appreciate the effort. As for Glade, guess we will see …”
Voters narrowly rejected a plan to amend the city charter to provide three-year terms for the mayor and six council members. Nearly 54 percent of voters opposed the proposal; 46 percent supported it, with all votes tallied.
And residents in the small suburb rejected the proposal to reimburse the mayor and council up to $375 a month and consider giving them raises after one year of consecutive service. Sixty-five percent of voters cast ballots against the reimbursement; 34 voted for the proposal, with all votes tallied.
More than three-fourths of voters supported extending the Haltom City Crime Control and Prevention District — and a quarter-cent tax that goes with it — by a decade.
With all the votes tallied, 82 percent supported the measure; 17.2 percent voted against it.
A plan to reauthorize the local sales and use tax, at one-eighth of 1 percent, for street repair and maintenance drew support from 91 percent of voters, with all votes tallied.
More than 72 percent of voters backed a plan to decrease the Crime Control and Prevention District sales and use tax, from one-half percent to one-eighth percent, and adopt a sales and use tax of three-eighths percent, with all the votes counted.
Officials say the tax will help promote and develop business enterprises, particularly for a community entertainment and recreational center and land, buildings, equipment and more.
Nearly 60 percent of voters signed off on a plan to let the City Council approve future ordinances to amend zoning, electrical, plumbing or building codes on the first submission, with all votes tallied.
Sixty-four percent of voters also approved a plan to let the council impose a residency requirement on any department head or employee except the city manager.
And 69 percent of voters favored repealing five home rule charter sections and clarifying the home rule charter, complete but unofficial results showed.
Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610