"Voters selected those politicians to work for us and listen to us – not to ignore us."
Trinity's Vote yes group anything but small
"More signed our petition than voted for you, Mr. Mayor "
October 16, 2007
Dallas Morning News
Dallas citizens should matter as much as politicians or Chamber of Commerce suits.
Having sat through my fifth debate of the Trinity River toll road campaign, I have noticed Vote No! teams often attack Angela Hunt personally. Mayor Tom Leppert and his team usually compare all the elected officials on the No! side to only Angela Hunt and lightweights on the TrinityVote yes side.
A Vote No! mailer says, "A small but vocal group has forced another expensive election," but the city secretary's office confirmed 52,000 valid voter signatures on TrinityVote petitions. Almost 40,000 more signatures were not reviewed, since 52,000 were adequate to force the Nov. 6 referendum.
In the May 1998 Trinity bond vote, only 38,016 voted for the Trinity Project, compared to 35,659 who voted against it. A 52 percent winning margin is hardly a landslide – and, in raw numbers, fewer than half the voters who signed TrinityVote petitions.
Yet, Mr. Leppert dismisses our 52,000 verified voters as insignificant when compared to 14 council members, five Dallas County commissioners, some state senators and legislators, two U.S. senators and various other members of Congress. Voters selected those politicians to work for us and listen to us – not to ignore us.
Mr. Leppert and his team depict the TrinityVote movement as Angela Hunt doing a Svengali routine that has 90,000 people walking around in a hypnotic state of confusion. Yet those 52,000 certified voters matter, not chamber groups, many of whose members are not Dallas residents and can't vote in our elections.
At the Temple Emanu-El debate, Mr. Leppert mentioned how important the Trinity toll road is to four mayors of other cities. The toll road will not benefit Dallas citizens. Its primary function will be to move 100,000 cars each day from northern suburbs to southern suburbs through our most congested and polluted core, with no financial benefit to Dallas citizens.
A small but vocal number of voters participated in our 2007 mayoral and City Council races. Mr. Leppert attracted 49,558 votes out of 85,693 cast. Fewer voted for both candidates than signed TrinityVote petitions. Does his small voter base mean Mr. Leppert isn't our real mayor? Does his small voter turnout mean he doesn't matter?
In 2007, only one council member got more votes than Ms. Hunt's 5,816. Excluding Ms. Hunt and Mr. Leppert, the other 13 winning council members combined had only 41,290 – the same 13 politicians Mr. Leppert puts above 52,000 registered voters.
The voters who signed TrinityVote petitions are more than a "small but vocal group." We are a major movement like this city has never seen. A small but vocal group of only 28,123 voters elected Ron Kirk in his second mayoral race.
The Vote No! strategy to marginalize Angela Hunt and 52,000 voters who support TrinityVote is a big mistake.
TrinityVote certainly has an able general in Ms. Hunt, but the campaign belongs to 52,000 verified voters and almost 40,000 more. We may not matter to Mr. Leppert and his Vote No! team, but we matter.
If crowds at Trinity toll road debates are any indication, Mr. Leppert will not like the Nov. 6 election result. Don't buy the Vote No! team's pleas to trust in a never-been-done scheme to stick a toll road in a floodway, to let Dallas be a guinea pig for a $1.3 billion highway. They don't even have an approved design after almost 10 years.
Mr. Leppert and his Vote No! team wants us to trust them, but they don't think 52,000 verified Dallas voters matter as much as politicians and non-Dallas residents. On Nov. 6, we will send a loud message citywide that it's not Chamber of Commerce groups or elected officials who matter – it's the voters of Dallas.
Sharon Boyd is editor and publisher of DallasArena.com. Her e-mail address is sboyd@boyd services.com.
© 2007 The Dallas Morning News Co
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