This March, all eyes will be on Gwinnett as the county prepares to vote for the MARTA referendum, but what exactly is the MARTA referendum? Well, voters will be essentially be voting on an expansion plan that would allow MARTA to expand into Gwinnett; this plan would also include “29 miles of light rail, 13 miles of bus rapid transit lines and three arterial rapid transit routes. Station improvements are included as well”.
When voters vote “yes”, they will not only be saying yes to the expansion of MARTA, but they will also be saying yes to the increase of sales tax by 1% in order to pay for the project as well as its operations through 2057. Even though there is a slight increase of sales tax, most residents do not mind and see the expansion as a great opportunity.
Gwinnett resident Sintria Williams-Ragin says that “traffic out [there] is awful,” and believes that more transportation options would be nice to have. Currently, the county’s population is close to a million people and is expected to grow to almost half a million within the next 20 years. According to DATAUSA in 2016, 80.4% of those living in Gwinnett drove their own cars to and from work. Introducing MARTA to Gwinnett would decrease the amount of cars that are going to and from Atlanta as well as decrease the traffic that people experience on their commute.
How does this referendum affect the Latino community? Well, as Gwinnett continues to grow, so will it’s Latino population. In fact, Gwinnett will be home to more Latinos than whites by 2040, making it the majority. This means that by the time the expansion is completely done, the majority of residents that will be impacted by it will be Latinos. That’s why it is important for Latinos to go out and vote in March. Bringing MARTA into Gwinnett will allow Latinos to have more job and post-high school opportunities. Atlanta is a growing city with many opportunities that, as of now, have been limited to those who can afford to come and go there. With this expansion, Latinos will be able to come and go from Atlanta without having to go through much financial troubles.
So, if you are voting this March, look out for this question on your ballot, “Gwinnett County has executed a contract for the provision of transit services, dated as of August 2, 2018. Shall this contract be approved?”. Voting will take place on March 19th.
NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO at firstname.lastname@example.org.