This morning, I attended a meeting over at the Greater Columbia Chamber of the group campaigning for the referendum to fund local buses and other transportation needs.
That is to say, the group preparing to campaign for the referendum. The official launch is next Wednesday. The website just went live, with additional content to come, and the Twitter feed is just getting started — I was only the seventh follower.
But of course, the effort goes back quite a ways. At the meeting I was sitting next to former Columbia College President (and local F.O.B.) Caroline Whitson, who led the initial communitywide effort — more than six years ago now — to identify, and push for funding for, local transportation priorities.
That effort would have likely led to passage of the one-cent sales tax increase in 2008, except that it failed to get on the ballot for lack of a vote on Richland County Council (I want to say it was because Kit Smith was out of town, but it’s been awhile, so I forget the exact details). Instead, it went on the ballot in 2010, the most anti-government, anti-tax election year in my memory — and fell less than a percentage point short.
Backers, among whom you can continue to count me, are optimistic that this is the year. I think there are a number of reasons to think so, in spite of the continued vehemence of the opposition.
I’ll have more on the subject as the effort launches.