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Albuquerque voters reject red-light cameras

Voters in Tuesday’s Albuquerque municipal elections decided to keep two incumbent city councilors in office but rejected one of Mayor Richard Berry’s top initiatives. A long-standing red-light photo-camera bill was also rebuked.

Mayor Berry’s “ABQ: The Plan” — the pairing of an improved interstate highway interchange and the construction of a 35-acre complex of sports fields and indoor courts, to the combined tune of $50 million — got nixed by voters. Although gracious in defeat of his proposal (a reaction perhaps assuaged by the possibility of dedicating a portion of the city’s $3 million annual operating budget to the interchange project), Mayor Berry said that the “voters spoke, and we’ll listen.”

In a vote that echoed sentiments voiced by other urban drivers throughout the country, 53 percent of Albuquerque voters cast ballots against controversial red-light cameras. Although the vote is not yet law, the results likely spell the end of the program — with a vote on a bill possibly as soon as tonight.

City councilor Dan Lewis, who had helped put the anti-camera proposal on the ballot, had called the devices a “scam,” and said after last night’s results that if those numbers hold true, he’ll introduce a bill to kill off the cameras altogether. The cameras, initially put in place to record drivers who ran red lights and later saddled with the even more contentious duty of issuing citations to speeders, could be gone in as little as sixty days. The cameras were first installed in two intersections in October 2004.

On a supportive note, voters did approve of the $164 million price tag for general obligation bonds, a program that provides money for libraries, storm drainage, parks, streets, and other amenities. And two incumbent councilors, Trudy Jones and Brad Winter, were also reelected.

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