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Red light camera ballot challenges spread across state

A red light camera on the job in Oregon.
Kristian Foden-Vencil
A red light camera on the job in Oregon.

Irate drivers in four Washington cities are filing ballot initiative paperwork this week to unplug automated traffic enforcement cameras.

So far, driver rebellions have ignited in Longview, Bellingham, Monroe and Wenatchee. Signature drives have started in those cities to unplug their red light cameras. Professional initiative promoter Tim Eyman is involved in all four of the nascent municipal campaigns.

Several dozen towns in Washington and Oregon have recently installed those automated cameras to ticket red light runners, school zone speeders or illegal right turns on red.

Puyallup contractor Nick Sherwood and his wife created the website to fan the flames of rebellion:

“There’s been so much angst towards the cameras that people are taking matters in their hands. We’re just helping facilitate that in hopes that the legislature would put this monster back in the box,” says Sherwood.

He portrays traffic cameras as an unfair, money-grubbing 'Big Brother' tool.

But public officials consistently deny they’re in it for the money. They defend the ticket cameras as an effective measure to improve driver and pedestrian safety. 

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.