More than 30 faith leaders joined L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to encourage passage of Measure M, the Nov. 8 ballot initiative calling for a half-cent countywide sales tax to fund transit and road projects and improvements in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
During a breakfast meeting on Oct. 14 at West Angeles Church of God in Christ, several clergy representing some of the largest congregations in South L.A. endorsed the measure, proclaiming its passage will ease traffic, create 465,000 new jobs, and modernize the county’s transportation system.
Measure M, sponsored by MTA, promises a host of benefits, if it receives 2/3 of the vote. According to the description in the voter’s information booklet, the measure will provide funding to improve freeway traffic flow and safety, repair potholes and sidewalks, repave local streets, earthquake retrofit bridges, synchronize traffic signals, keep senior/disabled/student fares affordable, expand rail/subway/bus systems, improve job/school/ airport connections and create jobs.
If approved, the ½ cent sales tax will become effective January 1, 2017 and remain in place until voters decide to end it. The measure also calls for regular independent audits to ensure accountability and transparency.
“I know many congregations have been impacted by Metro’s construction and expansion efforts. But the good news is that we will all reap the benefits of an expanded and more reliable system that relieves traffic,” said Bishop Charles E. Blake of West Angeles COGIC.
“At West Angeles COGIC, we have first-hand knowledge of the benefits of affordable and reliable transportation. Many of our congregants come to church by train and the Metro line and our employees use it to come to work.”
While acknowledging the improved quality of life that a modern transportation network offers, Ridley-Thomas made it plain: “This is also about jobs, jobs and more jobs. There is no other public construction project in this state that will generate 400,000+ jobs.”
In his remarks, Garcetti said that Measure M was also about people and their stories. Sharing examples, he cited the dilemma faced by an 82-year-old veteran without a public transportation option to get medicine and a South Los Angeles child who never visited the beach.
“Now with the Expo Line open to Santa Monica, all that public transportation fulfills the dream that lives within you. It’s the church network that makes sure that we touch the lives of individuals,” said Garcetti.
Pastor J. Edgar Boyd of First AME Church of Los Angeles and Apostle Beverly “Bam” Crawford of
Bible Enrichment Fellowship International Church in Inglewood echoed the comments of previous speakers and announced their support for the measure as well.
“Measure M ensures that our emerging and growing infrastructure will be built to last. It will provide a constant stream of revenue so the system will be adequately maintained. It ensures rider safety and reliability. We encourage people to do whatever they can to support a yes vote on Measure M,” said Boyd.