Pinellas Democrats tout Greenlight Pinellas, stop short of endorsement
The Pinellas County Democratic Party has decided not to take an official stance on the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The party’s message: Research it and make up your own mind.
“Greenlight Pinellas is too important to the future of our communities and county to reduce it to partisan politics,” the party said Wednesday in a statement.
But the rest of the three-paragraph news release reads like an endorsement of the plan that would increase the county’s sales tax from 7 to 8 cents on the dollar to pay for expanded bus service and a 24-mile light rail system between St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
“It’s unfortunate that some local Republican Tea Party types oppose the Greenlight Pinellas as they oppose virtually everything else,” the release said. “But in fact, most commissions and councils in Pinellas made up of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, top local GOP elected officials, the Tampa Bay Rays organization, the chambers of commerce and most residents of Pinellas County realize we need much better mass transit so our residents will have state-of-the-art travel options of expanded buses and local trains.”
The party calls the sales tax a fairer way to fund those improvements than the property tax currently levied to fund public transit in Pinellas.
In an interview, party Vice-chairwoman Susan McGrath said that a majority of the party’s executive board does support the plan but decided not to take an official vote.
In contrast, the Pinellas Republican Executive Committee voted unanimously this month to oppose the referendum, saying the tax increase “would do more harm than good, especially to the county’s poorest residents, disabled veterans and our seniors on fixed incomes.”
Here's the Democratic Party's full statement:
Greenlight Pinellas is too important to the future of our communities and County to reduce it to partisan politics. Citizens from all areas of Pinellas, including neighborhood and community groups, put together this Plan over two years of hard work.
It’s unfortunate that some local Republican Tea Party types oppose the Greenlight Pinellas Plan Referendum as they oppose virtually everything else. But in fact, most Commissions and Councils in Pinellas made up of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, top local GOP elected officials, The Tampa Bay Rays organization, the Chambers of Commerce and most residents of Pinellas County realize we need much better mass transit so our residents will have state-of-the-art travel options of expanded buses and local trains in addition to our cars. Also, this will allow our young, and low income workers to travel to school, work, work training, the mall or even see a movie or go to a Rays game for a low cost and in a time efficient manner. The Plan even includes door step pick up for disabled residents.
The one penny tax is a fairer way to fund Greenlight than as a portion of our property tax since everyone will enjoy the transformational travel options in the future, including visitors to Pinellas who pay 1/3 of the sales tax. Also, the property tax cut is welcome relief for many of our middle class families and seniors who must live on tight or fixed budgets.
The Executive Board of the PCDEC believes this issue is too important for partisan politics, and encourages all to see http://greenlightpinellas.com/ for more information.