Gwinnett County’s top elected law enforcement official and top prosecutor threw their support behind the effort to get the county’s contract MARTA passed this week.
The Go Gwinnett campaign released an endorsement statement from Sheriff Butch Conway on Facebook on Monday. The following morning, they released an endorsement from District Attorney Danny Porter.
In the statement, Conway said approval of the contract by voters would lead to improved safety on Gwinnett’s roadways. Meanwhile, Porter said new investment and crowds that can be attracted to transit hubs are factors that can help reduce crime.
“I’ve devoted my life to promoting the safety of Gwinnett’s families, and that’s one of many reasons I’m voting yes on the transit referendum on March 19,” Conway said. “I hope my friends and neighbors here will join me in doing the right thing for Gwinnett’s future.”
The contract calls for MARTA to use the Connect Gwinnett Transit Development Plan as a blueprint for expanding to the county.
Conway’s and Porter’s endorsements come on the heels of a plea from former Gov. Nathan Deal to voters for a vote in favor of adoption of the plan. State Sen. Brandon Beach, who is chairman of the Georgia Senate’s Transportation Committee, also encouraged voters to cast ‘Yes’ votes during a transit forum in Peachtree Corners on Monday.
But the endorsements from Conway and Porter out among those others because they are from Gwinnett and have held their offices for more than 20 years. Both are also high profile Republicans.
“A ‘yes’ vote will connect Gwinnett to the rest of the metro Atlanta region, while at the same time letting the county retain local control over transit projects and services – services that include public safety,” Porter said in a statement.
“Gwinnett officials – directly responsible to the people of this county – will determine how the transit system works in our county, and they will have flexibility to meet the changing needs of their constituents. I trust our locally elected officials to implement this transit plan in a way that maximizes mobility while still prioritizing public safety.”
The sheriff said the limited service currently provided through Gwinnett County Transit has had a positive impact on road safety — something he said could grow under the expansion plans. Less car wrecks and traffic fatalities would also improve response times for first responders, he said.
“The much-needed transit expansion will take thousands of vehicles off our roads every day, which will lead to fewer wrecks, fewer traffic jams and fewer fatalities,” said Conway. “Studies clearly show that an increase in transit ridership increases road safety.
“We know we can make a huge difference in Gwinnett, because even the more limited bus service that is provided today makes a big difference – Gwinnett buses comprise 29 percent of the passengers in the I-85 HOT lanes but only 2 percent of the vehicles.”
Porter said transit options will also be needed as the county’s population continues to grow. Gwinnett County is expected to have as many as 1.5 million residents by 2040.
“Beyond my role as a prosecutor, I also live here,” Porter said. “This county has given my family a remarkable quality of life. As more people come into our county to enjoy all the assets of this community, we’re going to need new capacity to build on the success we’ve seen for many decades.
“This well thought out plan will relieve congestion, save us time and energy and boost our economy. Please vote yes.”