I was happy to wake up this morning and see that Ogden and Weber County passed Proposition 1, the Wasatch Front’s transit sales tax initiative. Prop 1 will add a 0.25% sales tax on all purchases but food. The initiative was on the ballot in 17 of Utah’s 29 counties. Nine counties voted in favor while eight others voted against.
Prop 1 was divisive primarily due to the amount of funding it would allocate to the Utah Transportation Authority (UTA), the region’s transit district. Many of those who wrote in to Utah newspapers expressed concern about UTA’s spendthrift ways and lavish bonuses awarded to executives. The agency has vowed to change and impose additional oversight. If they do, I expect other Utah counties will vote to support more transit in the future.
There was more good news for Ogden City last night. Mayor Mike Caldwell cruised to re-election with close to 80% of the vote. Caldwell is an avid cyclist who regularly commutes to work on his bicycle. He commuted every day for a full year, so this is no passing fancy. The mayor has been instrumental in establishing Ogden City as a center of the bicycle industry, attracting both domestic and international bicycle companies. Ogden is also a regular stop on both road and mountain biking tours.
Caldwell’s re-election and the passage of Prop 1 indicate that Ogden City and Weber County are serious about transportation choice. At a time when Congress is looking to slash bicycle and pedestrian funding, Ogden and Weber county have said “give us more.” These victories pave the way for full implementation of the Ogden Bicycle Master Plan and increased UTA service. Expect Ogden City and UTA to forge a partnership that integrates cycling seamlessly into the transit mix through first and last mile policies.
As a new resident, I could not be happier with last night’s results. Jan and I chose Ogden because we saw in the people who live there a deep conviction for doing things the right way. These results indicate that we were right. It’s not easy to say “tax us more.” By passing Prop 1 and re-electing Mayor Mike, Ogden City voters have set the table for dramtic improvements in connectivity and livability. This is no small thing. In fact, it is huge.
Thank you to those who voted in favor of Prop 1 and to re-elect Mayor Mike.