Members of ASG meet with local leaders to discuss ballot initiative
THE SANTA CLARA
September 22, 2016
Update (9/23/16): TransForm has now officially endorsed Measure B
Santa Clara student leaders are teaming up with municipal organizations to to bring Bay Area Rapid Transit trains to the South bay.
BART is aiming to extend its tracks further down into the South Bay and construct new train stations in Santa Clara and San Jose by 2025. To increase their involvement with the local community, the Associated Student Government plans to educate and inform students about Measure B, a local ballot measure that would fund the project.
Measure B, which will be voted on in the upcoming November election, proposes a half-cent tax raise over the next 30 years to allow the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority to fund transportation projects such as the BART extension, road improvement and increased safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Officials say that overall, the project will unite the Bay Area, promote sustainability and reduce traffic. Lidia Diaz-Fong, ASG president, said that the Silicon Valley Leadership Group contacted ASG last month looking for students to advocate for the measure on campus. Diaz-Fong said outreach efforts to the student body about a local election aligns with ASG’s commitment to transparency and civic engagement.
“Voting aligns directly with empowerment,” she said, adding that she hopes to create an opportunity for students to actively participate and stay informed about local issues.
ASG senate chair Neil Datar said that the organization’s stance on the measure is dependent upon the consensus of student senators. Once senators are educated about the ballot measure, any senator can take the opportunity to author a resolution that would then be debated and later voted upon. Whether the measure will be supported, Datar speculated, will depend on their post-grad plans.
“Their decision to stay in the area determines their decision to support it,” he said.
Datar added that the measure may appeal to Santa Clara students as it would allow them to venture off campus more easily and also aligns with Santa Clara’s 2020 plan for sustainability.
In an effort to educate themselves about the opposition to Measure B, ASG has met with other groups like TransForm, an Oakland-based nonprofit organization dedicated to accessible public transportation, as well as members of the Santa Clara City Council.
VTA’s director of communications Bernice Alaniz said that local electoral support increases the prospect of receiving federal aid for the project. Alaniz added that project funding relies on local, state and federal sources. Alaniz said that the BART extension is also predicted to reduce traffic. BART extension is also predicted to reduce traffic. BART currently serves 444,000 people daily and with the expansion, they estimate being able to add 90,000 more riders per day.
Alaniz said that the BART extension is an alternative for environmentally conscious students—the extension to San Jose and Santa Clara is estimated to reduce green-house gas emissions annually by 32 million pounds, which is equivalent to 3,036 fewer cars driven per year.
SVLG, a public policy trade organization which supports prominent businesses in the Silicon Valley, has been a champion for Measure B for over three years. It has endorsed, funded and lead efforts to solve issues with traffic and housing. The CEO of SVLG, Carl Guardino, said that his organization commits itself to Measure B because the “role and responsibility of private citizens is to create a solution to the problem.”
Guardino said that there should be more accountability with local tax dollars. According to him, the measure entails a citizen’s watchdog committee and protection of funds from federal usage. He said that “private citizens (should) remain engaged rather than enraged” at the polls.
“There is no one single solution,” Guardino said. “There are several solutions that fit into each other like a jigsaw puzzle problem that add up to meaningful improvements.”
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