For the second time in less than a year, Phoenix faced-off against the highly orchestrated, national effort to kill light rail projects throughout the country. And won.
On Tuesday, Phoenix voters soundly defeated a contentious ballot effort to put the brakes on any light rail project in Phoenix thanks to Invest in PHX, a high-stakes public affairs campaign. The Invest in PHX campaign demonstrated that these well-funded, well-organized transit-killing efforts can be stopped.
“We ran a disciplined, research-based campaign that deployed advanced predictive modeling, tested field strategies and personalized mail messaging,” said Resolute Vice President Tony Cani, who managed the Invest in Phoenix campaign. “But more than that, we built a diverse coalition of interests all fighting for the future of Phoenix.” Cani oversaw coalition building, campaign strategy and messaging, supervising all consultants and driving the campaign to success.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego was a driving force in the fight against Propositions 105 and 106 and made their defeat a priority shortly after taking office. “Phoenix has a powerful vision for its future, and that future depends on light rail. In cities throughout the country, growth and revitalization is led by investment in public transportation including light rail. Light rail will connect our residents to jobs, our students to education and the people who call Phoenix home to each other,” said Phoenix Mayor Gallego.
“Tony and Resolute built a team that crossed partisan lines…a broad coalition of support that few could bring together and manage. With a tight timeline he managed a budget of more than a million dollars and executed a campaign that challenged conventional wisdom and won,” added Mayor Gallego.
The Invest in PHX campaign coalition transcended partisan politics and brought together business leaders and labor; neighborhood groups and elected officials; non-profit organizations and industry leaders; and community groups from the four corners of the city who rallied voters to defeat two controversial propositions on the ballot Tuesday, August 27: Proposition 105 (Stop Light Rail) and Proposition 106 (Drastically Cut City Services).
“Our national team of advocacy experts has deep understanding and experience mobilizing public and private sectors around an issue that is critical to their future,” said Resolute Founder and CEO Greg Goldner. “Industry leaders are realizing that while their expertise can build a light rail system, defeating these aggressive opponents to public transportation requires specialized public affairs experience.”
The pro light rail efforts also drew vigorous support from other Arizona and Phoenix elected officials including U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton (D-9th), a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and former Phoenix Mayor; U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-7th); and Phoenix City Council members Debra Stark and Laura Pastor who served as Invest in PHX Co-Chairs.
Congressman Stanton tweeted: “A great night for Phoenix and our region. Congrats @MayorGallego and the entire @No105No106 team. The people of Phoenix have spoken (again): transportation infrastructure investments make our city stronger.”
After Tuesday night’s victory, Mayor Gallego tweeted: “The broad coalition that came together to defeat these props deserve our thanks. Today we can celebrate our investment, our city, & our residents. We will have to step up to protect PHX again in the future but we should be encouraged that, together, we continue to move forward.”
Both ballot propositions were designed to undermine progress in Phoenix including halting construction on the $1 billion light rail project in South Phoenix and slashing funding for essential services like libraries, parks, and educational programming. Prop 106 would also scrap the current pension payment plan.
Just last October, Phoenix City Council approved 6-2 to move forward on the $1 billion South Central Light Rail Extension in South Phoenix, after a challenge from out-of-state light rail opponents. Since 2000, voters have consistently approved the city’s $31.5 billion transportation plan to create access to Phoenix residents across a 26-mile system. Tuesday’s vote was the fourth time Phoenix voters supported light rail.