Travis County Democrats divided on urban rail proposal

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The debate over urban rail rages on in Austin. In November, voters will decide whether it will come to Austin, voting on a $1 billion bond proposal. On Wednesday, the Travis County Democratic Party was supposed to vote on whether to endorse Proposition 1, but at the last minute, they declined to do so.

Lou McCreary, Democratic Precinct Chair for precinct 347, is opposed to the rail plan. He says he’s tired of seeing homeowners stretched and burdened by taxes. McCreary believes the middle class and lower income are being taxed out of town.

“The voters of Travis County, Texas, are tired of taxes being imposed on them by the City of Austin that don’t have merit,” said McCreary. “And this is one of those plans that is too expensive for too little.”

McCreary says he’s proud that the Travis County Democratic party won’t officially be endorsing it anytime soon. The party received a letter from current city council members who endorsed it and encouraged them to adopt the proposal.

“If the vote had actually been taken and they had not withdrawn the proposal, it would have been totally embarrassing to the whole city council, and that’s why they pulled the proposition,” says McCreary.

Chairwoman of the Travis County Democratic Party, Jan Soifer, believes debating the issue would have been too divisive for the party.

“I know there are Democrats on both sides of this issue. My personal opinion is that it’s a good proposition and that we need this kind of mass transit,” said Soifer. “I think the proponents of the proposal thought they had enough votes, but I think when everyone arrived at the meeting they weren’t so sure.”

She says at a previous meeting, it seemed as if there was a majority for Proposition 1. However, over the course of a month there were many emails and letters for and against the proposal. At the end of the day, if there isn’t a super majority, the party isn’t going to take a position.

While they decided to postpone the urban rail vote, the party did endorse another issue. In a near unanimous vote, the Travis County Democrats agreed to support new spending on the Austin Community College bonds on the November ballot.

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