DAVENPORT -- Nearly two thirds of Tuesday's voters decided Davenport's Promise initiative was not the best fit for the city. |
Residents cast 9,717 votes against the proposal that would have used local sales tax dollars to offer $20,000-plus scholarships to every public or private high school graduate living in the city. Despite significantly raising more campaign funds than the opposition, Promise supporters received only 6,235 votes or 39.09 percent.
In several precincts, opposition votes accounted for more than 70 percent of the ballots. Atotal of 15,961 people, or 22.7 percent of registered voters, voted on the referendum.
Mark Nelson, who led Opt4Better's opposition to the plan, said the win was a relief.
"I"m glad we prevailed," Mr. Nelson said just after election results were posted on Scott County"s Web site at about 9 p.m. Tuesday. "I"m glad we were able to overcome the misinformation that the city was putting out and the aligned forces of the nonprofits of trying to put something through."
But while he said he was pleased with the victory, Mr. Nelson said he was saddened by personal attacks late in the campaign regarding an appraisal he provided to the redevelopers of the Blackhawk Hotel.
Both Ken Croken, spokesman for Friends of Davenport Promise, and Mayor Bill Gluba expressed disappointment with the vote.
"We"re proposing a change, and a change is an uphill sell," said Mr. Croken who had explained the program at Davenport forums. "And, sadly, we did not succeed in convincing the majority."
Mayor Gluba said he was saddened, but not devastated, by Promise's defeat.
"I won"t be daunted in my efforts to try to grow Davenport, expand the tax base and hold the line on property taxes," he said.
Also losing Tuesday were the city"s public safety departments that would have received 10 percent of the local option sales tax through Promise. The city will soldier on Thursday, Mayor Gluba said, by finishing up a budget that includes more money for street and sewer repairs than ever before spent.
Tuesday"s defeat of Promise affects Davenport students' prospects of receiving the proposed $20,000-plus scholarships. Crafters of the program had promised to waive residency requirements during the program"s first year of implementation, meaning Davenport"s seniors graduating in 2009 would have been eligible to receive the full amount of a Promise scholarship for college or vocational studies.
Mayor Gluba said the referendum probably came at the worst time ever because of the poor national economy and people's fear of what"s ahead. Both he and Mr. Croken said it was too soon to discuss if Promise may resurface on another ballot, with Mayor Gluba predicting similar programs will start being adopted all over the country.
Despite a big push from the Friends of Davenport Promise, Mr. Nelson said Tuesday's vote came down to the facts.
"I think that when you have the ability to call on special interests like they did that they are going to be able to out fundraise us," he said. "But when you have the facts and the truth on your side … the voters are going to understand that and make intelligent decisions."
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