Both sides hit the streets over TSPLOST vote



ATLANTA - With just four days left before the big transportation tax referendum, both sides of the debate are mobilizing grassroots efforts to convince voters to vote their way.

In Southwest Atlanta, TSPLOST supporters drove trucks with loudspeakers blaring music and people waving signs. Supporters also crowded street corners with "Untie Atlanta" signs.

Atlanta City Councilmember Michael Julian Bond is among the supporters encouraging people to vote yes. He believes these final days are critical to TSPLOST's success.

"This is an effort to go out, beat the bushes on the west side, east side, south side and north side of Atlanta for this very, very important vote and very, very essential vote for Atlanta's future," Bond said.

In Decatur, DeKalb NAACP President John Evans stood along Candler Road waving his signs encouraging voters to say no to the 1 percent transportation tax. He believes he's effectively mobilizing grassroots support for his side.

"We go to the streets," said Evans. "We try to make sure to mobilize the people. We hear their voices. So we feel pretty good, upbeat. Things are coming together."

Several people we spoke with said the last-minute campaigning really wasn't making a difference to them since they had already made up their mind.

"I make up my own mind," said Heard County resident Glen Neighbors. "I'm in favor of it because we have to keep our transportation system going, and the way I see it, the way time are right now, that's probably the best way."

Gwinnett County resident Regina Dobbs said she's already made up her mind, too.

"I just, unfortunately, don't think the government is going to be spending that money appropriately, so I'm going to be voting no," said Dobbs.

The grassroots get-out-the-vote campaign on both sides will last throughout the weekend and into Monday and Tuesday right up until the polls close Tuesday night.


New poll shows voters not convinced

It's down to the wire for supporters and opponents of the controversial 1 percent sales tax aimed at relieving traffic congestion all over metro Atlanta.

A new Channel 2 Action News/Rosetta Stone Communications poll shows voters are not yet convinced.

Thirty-five percent of the registered voters polled said they'll vote for the measure. Fifty-five percent said they oppose the tax.

Channel 2's broke down the poll and took it to both sides, and both sides agree Tuesday's election is a pivotal moment.

Supporters of the TSPLOST are high-profile. They include Gov. Nathan Deal, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and most of the area's biggest employers.

They call it the city's current Olympic moment.

Opponents said the high-pressure sales pitch is backfiring on voters because they don't trust the government.

"To not do anything continues to set us back, and Atlanta suffers," said Dave Stockert, CEO of Post Properties.

Debbie Dooley with the Georgia Tea Party says something far different.

"It's now or never? We don't believe that," Dooley said.

Supporters of the tax, including the business community, have pumped millions into a campaign to convince voters to say yes.

The new poll shows their message is not convincing enough voters yet.

Their strategy: Target voters who normally don't vote in primaries.

Stockert serves as chairman of the advocacy campaign.

"We're also trying to change the math by drawing people out because this is so personal to everybody," he said.

Personal and political, supporters said the process has been transparent. The list of 157 projects is a good mix of transit and road projects that will reduce congestion.

"Look at the big highway interchange projects like Georgia 400/285. That reduces congestion at that interchange, which is so important for so many people, by more than 30 percent," Stockert said.

"We're all working together for a common goal, and that's to defeat the TSPLOST," Dooley said.

Members of the Tea Party joined the Sierra Club to talk about their alternative plan, which includes convincing the legislature to restructure Georgia's gas tax.

Unlikely alliances formed because, the opponents said, the issue is about trust.

"Conservatives and Republicans aren't the only voters that distrust their elected officials. There is a lot of distrust among Democrats, as well," Dooley said.

"There have been measures built into this so you don't necessarily have to just trust the government," Stockert said. "We're going to have a citizens' review panel, annual audits. The money we raise stays in this region."

The final vote on Tuesday, no matter the outcome, will have far-reaching implications.

Channel 2 Action News

Delivered To Your Inbox