Phoenix Light Rail Ballot Initiative

In this Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, file photo, a light rail train runs through downtown Tempe, Ariz. Phoenix voters said "yes" to expanding light rail transportation in the nation's fifth largest city Tuesday by soundly saying "no" to a measure that aimed to stop any more development of the system, according to early, unofficial returns. 

Phoenix voters rejected initiatives that would have limited the light rail system’s expansion in the city and reformed the pension system in a special election held Tuesday.

Voters rejected the light rail initiative by a vote of 62.33 to 37.67 percent, according to unofficial results as of 10 p.m. Tuesday. Over 112,000 voted against Proposition 105 as of that time, while almost 68,000 voted for it. 

Proposition 105 would have amended the city’s charter to bar future expansions of Phoenix’s light rail system. 

Critics said light rail expansions have become too costly and some small businesses have opposed further expanding the system. Supporters of the light rail argue it’s important to the continued growth of the city.

Voters also rejected a measure to reform the city’s pension system in a 66.24 percent to 33.76 percent tally. As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, more than 115,000 voted against the initiative while almost 59,000 voted for it. 

Proposition 106, the Responsible Budget Act, would have put a cap on the city’s budget growth until public employee pensions are funded at least 90 percent. Phoenix’s pension debt is more than $4.5 billion. 

Critics said it would have meant cuts to parks, libraries and some city services.  

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, who opposed both initiatives, took a victory lap in a series of tweets Tuesday night.

“From the outset, it was clear that Props 105 and 106 were about more than a difference in opinion – it was more fundamental than that. This election was about what we want our city to be,” she said. “Residents broke records when they showed up in mass & declared they want robust transportation options & investment in our parks, libraries, & city services. Light rail expansion is not stopping – not today, not tomorrow.”

Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio, District 6, who supported both initiatives, expressed his disappointment Tuesday night.

“Like many of you, I am disappointed to see tonight’s election results,” he said. “I want to thank everyone who worked on these initiatives and who helped share our message throughout the city.”

Results for both initiatives are expected to be finalized by Wednesday night.


Regional Editor

Derek Draplin is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as an opinion producer at Forbes, and as a reporter at Michigan Capitol Confidential and The Detroit News. He’s also an editor at The Daily Caller.