Of all the topics debated by the City Council candidates at the Flagler Votes Forum on the night of Monday, Aug. 4, at the Hilton Garden Inn, on one there was a consensus: Everyone wants to get rid of the red light cameras.
With incumbent Bill Lewis absent because he was ill, his three challengers for the District 4 seat had the spotlight, as well as the three candidates for District, which has no incumbent.
Moderator David Ayres, of WNZF radio, asked each of the candidates how the city should proceed with red light cameras?
District 4 candidate Woody Douge acknowledged that the cameras were originally installed for safety reasons, but now, he claimed that the city has more red light cameras than Manhattan. “Something is wrong with that,” he said. He also touted his own effort to gather signatures to get rid of the cameras and said if he’s elected, “It’s going to be gone.”
Fellow District 4 candidate Steven Nobile said he’s a small business owner. “One of the things that disturbs me the most is that millions are being taken out of our economy and being sent to someone else’s economy.” He proposed extending the length of red lights to make intersections safer and said its’ time to “get out of the contract and move on.”
The third of Lewis’ challengers is Norman Weiskopf. He said the red light camera system shouldn’t have been started in the first place. “It was always meant to add revenue to the coffers in Palm Coast,” he said, adding: “I’m totally against it.”
In District 2, Joel Rosen, Anne-Marie Shaffer and Heidi Shipley are vying for the seat vacated by David Ferguson, who decided not to run.
Rosen pointed out that some of the revenue from red light cameras does go to the state, but: “We’ve overdone it.” He proposed trying to negotiate with American Traffic Solutions to “see if we can inexpensively get out of the contract.” He does support cameras at a few intersections if it can be proven that they increase safety.
Shipley said, “We should get rid of the red light cameras.” However, she said, in the meantime, we should stop running red lights and “get them at their own game.”
Shaffer was the last to speak on the subject. She said she used to live in Arizona, where the cameras were developed, and they addressed an issue in which people didn’t feel like they had to stop at red lights. But, she said she recently visited Indiana and joked that she found herself stopping even for green lights, which indicates “we’ve got a problem.” She said, “They have to be shut down. They have to go.”
The forum, which is the most influential during the election season here, was put on by the Flagler Chamber, the Flagler County Association of Realtors and the Flagler Home Builders Association. For more with the candidates, see the Elections Guide in the Aug. 7 edition.