By David Pendered
Gwinnett County’s leadership should support the expansion of MARTA into the county, according a polling firm that determined a majority of likely voters would agree to pay a 1 percent sales tax to get MARTA service.
“With likely voters having a favorable image of MARTA and their dissatisfaction with public transportation in Gwinnett County, we recommend supporting the expansion,” is the first recommendation presented by Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research.
The likelihood of voters approving a MARTA referendum is no slam dunk, according a close read of the cross-tabs in the poll results. Dissension is sharp along traditional political divides:
- Democrats – 80 percent;
- Voters who oppose the Tea Party – 75 percent;
- Current transit riders, daily or weekly – 67 percent.
- Tea Party supporters – 67 percent;
- Republicans – 63 percent;
- Romney supporters, 2012 – 63 percent.
The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce hired Washington-based Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research to conduct the poll in March. Sen. David Perdue used the firm to strategize his upset victory over Jack Kingston in the 2014 Republican run-off election, to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
Here are highlights of the survey, released Thursday:
- A majority (50 percent) of likely voters have a favorable image of MARTA;
- One in four (26 percent) likely voters are satisfied with public transportation in Gwinnett County whereas one in three (33 percent) likely voters are dissatisfied;
Three in five (63 percent) likely voters support expanding MARTA into Gwinnett County; The strongest support for MARTA expansion is in the southern part of the county;
- A majority (50 percent) of likely voters in Gwinnett County support a 1 percent sales tax to fund the expansion of MARTA into Gwinnett County.
The telephone survey of 502 likely voters was conducted with a live operator interview on March 18 and March 19. The margin of error is plus/minus 5.7 percent in 95 out of 100 cases, according to the survey results.
Gwinnett chamber President/CEO Daniel Kaufman said the poll results will provide a foundation for upcoming deliberations about promoting economic development and a transportation system to enable the growth.
“The issue of transportation has been a major topic of study and consideration throughout the region and the state this year,” Kaufman said in a statement. “Our goal was to take a snapshot of the view of the Gwinnett community on a specific issue related to the overall topic of transportation. The results will be imbedded as part of future community-wide discussions on a comprehensive approach to economic development and the transportation system we will need to support it.”
Chuck Warbinton, executive director of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District, said the poll results tell him that county residents are ready to consider transit – on a broader scale than offered by the county-operated Gwinnett County Transit.
“Planning to be a community of tomorrow means we can no longer look at vehicular transport as the only viable transportation solution for suburban counties,” Warbington said in a statement. “As a community, it is important that we have an open and honest conversation on how we will attract 21st century jobs with a transportation network that was primarily planned and built in the 20th century. Based on the results of this poll, the community is ready for that discussion.”