With Tigard securing right to vote on future rail line, Tualatin hopes to follow

The Southwest Corridor Plan could face yet another voter challenge. Just when regional planners were adusting to the idea of Tigard voters weighing in on a high-capacity transit line coming through town, they might need to wrap their minds around Tualatin voters chiming in, too.

In 2012, along with Tigard, Sherwood and King City, Tualatin petitioners submitted an initiative asking for the right to vote on any potential light-rail system or bus rapid-transit line linking Portland to Tualatin. When Tigard ended up a few dozen validated votes short, much of petitioners’ focus went to restarting the voter initiative there.

When Tigard earned the right to vote earlier this year with passage of Ballot Measure 34-210, Tualatin petitioners awoke. From the time they first submitted the initiative, they had exactly two years to turn in the necessary 1,925 signatures. Their deadline ended Monday, May 12, at 5 p.m.

“Once Tigard’s was complete, we decided ‘Hey, we’ve still got enough time to finish Tualatin’s,’” said Aaron Crowley, the chief petitioner in Tualatin.

Last week, the group turned in upwards of 2,000 signatures and finished it out with an extra 550 on Monday. In an effort to make sure another Tigard mishap didn’t occur, a team was working to review every signature to ensure nothing could invalidate them.

“Hopefully, the city and the county have really good and clean information to work with,” Crowley said. “I’m quite confident we have the necessary signatures.”

City Manager Sherilyn Lombos said that if all the signatures are indeed verified, which will likely be done by May 20, then the information will be presented to the Tualatin City Council on May 27. The measure could go before Tualatin voters in the fall.

“What I saw in all the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of doors that I knocked on, on both sides of the issue, was that people believe with an investment of that magnitude … it was fair and reasonable for citizens to have a say,” Crowley said.

According to Lombos, the Tualatin measure is a more restrictive than Tigard’s. At its core, however, the goal is the same: to eliminate the use of city resources in every aspect of light-rail and high-capacity transit planning and implementation unless there is a public vote.

Of the hundreds of doors Crowley knocked on, he said that from what he saw, a large majority of people were opposed to light rail coming to Tualatin.

“The clear, unmistakable majority of those people that signed the petition were not really happy to hear that light rail was planned for Tualatin,” he said. “It ran the gamut of emotions and reactions.”

Crowley, who ran for state representative in 2010, lived in Tualatin for nearly a decade before recently moving to Canby.

“I’m very much a native of the city,” he said. “I (feel) very strongly that residents who pay taxes ought to have a voice. That’s all these initiatives do. It basically forces the city to let the residents vote.”

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