We have been guaranteed nothing; the final vote occurs in April – but it is not merely transit at stake, it is the future of this community and the future of its residents. No longer can we allow St. Louis to function in fragmentation, to partition the city from the county; no longer can those seeking true, authentic change accept the false line severing the suburbs from the city. The vote to restore public transit funding means a new beginning for St. Louis – it is the clarion call for a community in which all residents from all parts celebrate the identity of their hometown. The city and county are bound to progress only when bound to each other, only when they function to provide and protect each other. The April vote is an opportunity for residents of St. Louis to embrace the totality of the region; it is an opportunity for us to work together for a better St. Louis. It is this community which is at stake.
I ask that you take five minutes today and send an email to acquaintance, friend, coworker, or family member and emphasize the importance of a vote for public transit on the April 6, 2010. Our campaign – TRACKING PROGRESS – has provided a form letter that can be used as the model or inspiration; we ask that you send an email with your own perspective, but we recognize that time does not always permit creativity. We hope that you understand your power on this subject, and we ask that no matter your place of residence you realize you have an important voice with which to participate in this moment of opportunity.
I believe in St. Louis. I believe that when we move together we find opportunity for moving forward, and I believe we can move together by supporting public transit. Your vote of support to fund public transit in St. Louis presents a moment for you to truly recognize the importance of our whole St. Louis community. Your vote of support allows the residents of this community to move together in deciding the future of their community.
The tax initiative will attempt to provide funds to restore the transit service cuts inflicted following the failure of the first tax measure. The initiative will allow public transit to return to the level of service conducive to transporting individuals in and out of your district – to jobs, recreation, and leisure – and it will supply the funds to ensure transit can operate at the highlest possible level. The second part of the tax will function to provide a future for public transit in St. Louis – it is not merely light rail which can benefit St. Louis. Public transit needs safe bus stops, better ways to distribute arrival/departure information, greener buses, and a kind of infrastructure that can make public transit more comfortable while providing the kind of world-class service necessary to succeed.
The tax measure will also allow for future expansion of the light rail system, but it will not mean more unkept promises. It will give public transit the chance to grow as our community grows, to go to those places where the employees of our community can find the best jobs – where our community seeks out fun and recreation. Expansion only means opportunity – it means public transit will have the means to decide whether bus rapid transit is effective, whether new routes are possible, and in what parts the potential for further transit growth can occur.
Our community must believe in progress in all parts, it must emerge from this debate stronger than ever – St. Louis must continue working for its future. That future is contingent on our ability to move together, to support public transit and provide the access, jobs, and potential for growth inherent to great American cities. I believe in St. Louis, and I believe in the responsibility of all residents to choose their own future. I believe in St. Louis and I hope your vote of support can give us the opportunity to choose the right path towards a strong community.