Transit initiative moves closer to Tigard ballot
Petitioners have most of signatures needed to put the measure on ballot
Armed with a clipboard and petition, Tim Esau is making the rounds across Tigard.
Esau spent his summer marching from house to house collecting signatures for an initiative he hopes to put on the November ballot: stopping a TriMet light-rail line from coming to town.
Esau is part of a group that opposes bringing a high-capacity transit line such as MAX light rail or bus rapid transit to Tigard. Metro, TriMet and area cities have worked for years to bring some form of high-capacity transit line to Tigard and Tualatin as part of the Southwest Corridor Plan.
But the deadline to gather signatures is fast approaching. Esau has less than 27 days to collect the 4,122 valid signatures he needs to put the measure on the ballot. At last count, Esau said the group has collected more than 3,000.
Weve got a good cut at it so far, Esau said.
The proposed ballot measure would change the citys charter to formally oppose construction of any high-capacity transit system without a vote of the people. Its similar to the ballot measure the group tried to get to voters last year. That measure ultimately failed to gather enough signatures, falling 46 signatures short of making it onto the ballot.
That failure will be remedied this year, Esau said.
This year we just go down the list, said Esau, showing a list of registered voters in the area. I dont even go to a house that isnt registered to vote.
Last year, the group collected signatures at the Tigard Public Library, local supermarkets and at gas stations.
The high-traffic areas drew a lot of signatures they collected more than 5,600 signatures in a few months but the majority included people who lived outside of the city or werent registered to vote.
A lot of people who think they live in Tigard actually dont, said Esau, who works as an Intel Corp. systems analyst.
Washington Countys elections office only counts signatures of registered voters in the city, but people that live on Bull Mountain dont realize that theyre not in the city limits, Esau said.
Esau and a small host of volunteers have been going door-to-door weeknights and Saturday mornings. It takes longer to gather signatures that way, but he said its worth it.
The yield were getting out of these target voters is much higher quality, Esau said. These are folks that are legitimately entitled to have a say on this issue.
Support for the petition doesnt fall along party lines, Esau said although a majority of petition gatherers are conservative Republicans.
You cant pigeonhole it really well to say who will say yes or no, but we find that the economic boundaries make a difference, Esau said. Up on Bull Mountain we will see a lot of support, because a MAX line doesnt serve them. But people that live around Highway 217? We were working down Pfaffle Street and we couldnt get anybody to sign there.
After last years initiative nearly made it to the ballot, the city put its own referendum on the ballot. Voters overwhelmingly approved that measure, which calls for a vote before the city can raise taxes or fees in order to build a light-rail line through town.
Some of last years supporters have opted not to re-sign Esaus petitions this year, but Esau said it has little to do with the citys referendum.
Most people dont remember it passed, most barely remember what was on the ballot last time, he said.
The group hopes to collect about 6,000 signatures in order to have some wiggle-room in case some of the signatures turn out to be invalid.
Thats a lot of hard work between now and then, Esau said. But Im pretty confident that were going to get there. As the signatures come in we are verifying against voter lists to make sure they live in Tigard.
For more information on the petitions visit swrailvote.org.Add a comment