Last night, Wake’s transit plan was halted indefinitely by Chairman Paul Coble and the Wake County Commission majority. Despite almost two hours of public comments in favor of the transit plan and letting voters decide on a transit funding referendum, commissioners voted 4-3 against even holding a public hearing. The continued refusal of the commission’s majority to allow a discussion or vote on transit runs counter to the tenets of good governance. The Wake transit plan has been on the table since last November, yet the board majority has blatantly stalled it, refusing to put this to a vote or referendum of the people.
But Commissioner Erv Portman led the call FOR transit and FOR letting the voters have a voice. Portman offered a resolution to hold a required public hearing on the Wake transit plan, have County work sessions on it, and allow a vote on putting the half-cent sales tax referendum on the November ballot. Portman noted that years of studies and panels have all called for a regional transit system, that past chairs have declared the priority for transit, but that this County Commission has refused to act.
Commissioners Betty Lou Ward and James West spoke strongly in favor of Portman’s resolution and voted for it. Commissioners Paul Coble, Joe Bryan, Tony Gurley, and Phil Matthews all voted against it. In fact, they did not even discuss it, again shutting out the public from having an opportunity to vote on transit.
Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams, and Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles spoke at the meeting representing seven other Wake mayors in urging the County Commission to discuss and vote on the transit plan. These mayors and Commissioners Portman, Ward and West are to be commended for their fine leadership and their support for allowing the public to be involved in decisions affecting our community! Please join us in saying thank you today.
Luckily, the media was there to capture the commission majority’s lack of response to so many requests from constituents with ABC 11, NBC 17, News14, WRAL, the News & Observer, and Raleigh Public Record all reporting on the outcome of the meeting. Notably following the commission meeting, Steve Ford of the News & Observer wrote an editorial on transit’s ability to inform and direct landuse patterns and moreover create a feedback loop of supporting dense development, which in turn supports transit. Read the editorial here