Kansas City, MO Local 42 has won overwhelming voter support for a crucial sales tax ballot initiative, a stunning victory for public safety and proving what is possible when affiliates work hard and are politically active.
In the face of a torrent of anti-tax sentiment, voters passed KC Question 1 (renewal of the ¼ cent Fire Safety Sales Tax) 63.5 to 36.5 percent.
The ballot victory renews an existing tax that was due to expire and maintains safe staffing levels and allows for essential infrastructure improvements, as well as integration of EMS operations. It was the only tax-related measure Kansas City voters approved among several on the ballot.
Losing the vote would have been devastating to public safety and to the safety of Local 42 members. The ¼-cent tax represents about $20 million — or 15 percent — of the total fire department budget, and losing that revenue would have likely led to station closures and layoffs.
“The overwhelming vote also confirms that the citizens of Kansas City respect the hard work and dedication of their professional fire fighters,” says Local 42 President Mike Cambiano.
But winning was by no means easy. The campaign to win Yes on KC Question 1 began earlier this summer with an aggressive effort to secure support early without antagonizing anti-tax groups revving up to oppose other tax-related ballot initiatives.
The campaign included a web site or educating the public, a sustained social media effort on Facebook and Twitter, as well as video on YouTube.
In addition, Local 42 conducted in-depth polling to help identify and begin targeting likely voters who support public safety. This targeted approach allowed Local 42 to save money and focus resources on other aspects of the campaign.
Local 42 also distributed several direct mail pieces and went door-to-door in specific neighborhoods to talk face to face with voters.
“Even though our polling was showing that we were headed for victory, we never took our foot off the gas. Otherwise, we would have lost,” Cambiano says