.Measure D Opponents Celebrate on Election Night

Opponents of the divisive ballot item were jubilant as the earliest returns showed 68% percent of voters rejecting Measure D

Through the evening air on the Michael’s on Main patio, the voice of Santa Cruz Transportation and Public Works Commissioner Kyle Kelley—an opponents Measure D supporter—rang out.

“We’re way in the lead!” he exclaimed, he said as the initial results of the primary election popped up on a big screen inside the restaurant. The earliest returns showed 68% percent of voters rejecting Measure D.

The trail-only backers of Measure D sought to pave the way for a greenway on the old freight corridor along the Monterey Bay, but the ballot results suggested that many locals questioned the wisdom of removing references to rail from the Santa Cruz County General Plan.

“Are you serious?” asked Sally Arnold, a No on D coordinator, when told of the numbers. “Fabulous.”

Until that moment it had been unclear which way voters were leaning.

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After all, Arnold noted they’d been behind in another key aspect of the campaign.

“We’ve been outspent from the get-go,” she said. “We were always scrambling to raise the money that we needed.”

But she said there’s been an upwelling of support for rail-and-trail during the campaign.

“It’s been really encouraging,” she said. “The volunteers have been just phenomenal.”

One of those boosters was 16-year-old Santa Cruz student Luke Lindroth, who made a video to promote preserving the rail line.

“If my money’s going to ripping up the train tracks, I’m not going to be happy with that,” he said. “You’re eliminating the options for future transportation, but you’re also erasing history.”

Mark Johannessen, an attorney for TIG-M, the company that recently brought a light rail demonstration to the boardwalk, said their battery powered vehicles wouldn’t be as expensive as the ones factored into the current $500 million estimate for passenger rail on the line.

Melani Clark, CEO of Roaring Camp Railroads, a key force behind No on D advocacy, said she was humbled to see how so many people rallied to their cause.

“They’re just an amazing group of people,” she said. “It’s amazing to me how many different people have come from all corners of the county.”

And while the overwhelming support for the No on D side could rally support for restoring the link between their business interests in Watsonville and Felton, she says it will also help promote solutions to climate change by encouraging the construction of public transit.

“That to me is really more important than the railroad,” she said, adding she hopes the Regional Transportation Commission will take this as a sign residents want both a rail line and a recreational trail.

The sentiment was echoed by Mark Mesiti-Miller, co-chair of the No on D campaign.

“The Santa Cruz County voters have spoken,” he said. “The RTC needs to listen.”

Over at the pro-Measure D watch party at Shadowbrook Restaurant, David Date, a self-described internet troll and passionate trail-only supporter, looked dejected.

By that point his side was losing badly—by 6,668 votes to 15,704. But he downplayed the significance of the results.

“It doesn’t look good, but ultimately this campaign really had no teeth,” he said. “This was just a straw poll.”

He still held out hope that the people who first learned about the issue during the divisive campaign would eventually warm to the idea of a greenway.

“A ‘no’ vote on D does not fund a train,” he said.

Bud Colligan, leader of the Yes on D side, wasn’t conceding defeat just yet.

“I’ve very pleased that we ran a positive and educational campaign, and we’ll live with the results of what voters say,” he said, adding the ball is now in the court of local transportation officials. “The RTC will need to figure out what trail is fundable, feasible and doable in a reasonable period of time.”


  1. Just as the article says a no vote does not fund a train. That may require a tax measure even if the state and feds come up with $500,000,000. The train will need local money to operate.

  2. Tig-M is not going to cost billions or even half a million like Measure D has claimed. The cost of upgrading the tracks to class two is about $10 million. Add to that fixing or replacing trestles, and based on what I’ve heard from one reliable source, $10 million for the Capitola trestle, and there’s about half a dozen total, then add that in, and the cost of leasing a few Tig-M trolleys, and the real cost is about $100 million. Tearing out the tracks would have cost %64 million and the loss of a public resource forever!
    Detractors of public transportation never admit the cost of automobile and road travel. Freeways cost billions to construct and maintain. Even if the price of gasoline is high these days, its cost is subsidized because Big Oil is subsidized. It’s about time more public dollars to go public transportation to get cars off the road and as a solution to global warming. Electric cars are fine, but they are just more cars on the roads, after all!

  3. Santa Cruz County voters have spoken. The early results show voters have rejected Greenway’s proposal to tear up the tracks and railbank the corridor. This rejection of Measure D is a political mandate from our community.  
    Voters have once again sent a message to the RTC, this community wants a future that includes a trail located alongside rail. The RTC should listen to the people, reject railbanking and focus on building the rail with trail project ASAP. 
    The Measure D vote reveals the deep passion in our community for a future that includes both a trail and rail. This community clearly wants a transportation system that is greener, more equitable and more efficient that what we have now. Voters recognize that rail AND trail is the best way to deliver on that future. 

  4. The State has an extensive rail plan, with funding, that can help Santa Cruz County develop “regional rail” service along the coastal Branch Line. “The California State Rail Plan (Rail Plan) establishes a long-term vision for an integrated, cohesive statewide rail system that offers efficient passenger and freight service, supports California’s economy, and helps achieve critical climate goals.” It’s worth a read since SCC voters have again shown, by overwhelming majority, that they support light rail connecting North and South County.

  5. I hope the local people will be happy to put their money where their votes are…this is the fourth time Santa Cruz folks have voted for rail; public transit is more important than ever now that climate change has brought fires here summer after summer. The Greenway people could put some of their money towards improving the lives of all of us instead of continuing to stall and attempt to stop what is necessary for workers and climate alike.

  6. Please supply an irrefutable proof that this is true.

    I suspect that your thinking has been manipulated be proponents of Measure D. Their campaign was misleading and just fell just short of being unethical. Fox News mentality.

  7. Could not be prouder of Santa Cruz County’s resounding super majority vote in favor of rail, and against Greenway’s deceptive Measure D! The message could not be clearer.

  8. Yes on D’s solution is to widen Highway 1 in both directions for HOV lane. That doesn’t sound cheap to me.

  9. There is no train proposal now. So it is premature to fret about tax measures. The voters get to have their say on any taxes when the time comes.

    Highway 1 is subsidized big-time. The bus system is subsidized too. So why is transit on the rail corridor singled-out as something different if it deserves public support too?

    We can learn from others systems in the county, successes and failures, to do it right here in Santa Cruz. We have the time. We have the talent. It is time to start serious planning. The RTC has already lost out on funding opportunities by not adopting plans.

    And we can now move forward with building the trail while maintaining our transit options. The votes made the right choice. Thanks to all who worked to defeat measure D.


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