Big support for Measure C in Merced

 

By JOHN MILLER & JONATHAN WHITAKER

A community effort to secure funding for public safety efforts in Merced appears to be paying off big time after the March Primary Election results dropped on Tuesday night.

With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Measure C had 3,827 Yes votes, or 69.23 percent, compared to 1,701 No votes, or 30.77 percent. Another vote tally update is expected Friday as mail-in and Election Day ballots are still being counted.

Measure C renews an existing half-cent local sales tax, using 95 percent of the revenue for police protection and fire protection, and 5 percent to be used for road and street maintenance and improvement, generating approximately $8 million annually until 2044.

“People care about response times, and that’s what Measure C is about,” said Mike Murphy, one of the leaders in the Measure C effort. “Our residents want and expect and deserve to have someone who is trained to show up when they’re in distress and call 911. Measure C is about having enough sworn officers and firefighters to do that. We’ve all either experienced that or we can put ourselves in the shoes of what it would be like.”

Murphy, a former mayor of Merced, celebrated along with a big crowd of supporters during an Election Night watch party at Five Ten Bistro.

“This really was two campaigns in one,” Murphy said. “There was the first campaign to get it qualified for the ballot, and get enough signatures — which is the first time that has happened in Merced.”

Measure C was first approved by Merced voters in 2006 with a sunset clause after 20 years. When talk about renewing Measure C began at City Hall several years ago, the idea appeared to have overwhelming support. However, over the past few years, a small minority of City Council members have consistently opposed funding plans to boost the budgets of the Police and Fire departments. In 2022, the City Council debated a plan to put Measure C back on the ballot for voters to decide; however, it failed in a split vote.

That’s when a citizen-led effort to renew the measure was born, and then picked up steam in 2023. Over the past year, community volunteers succeeded in gathering thousands of local voter signatures in order to place the renewal on the ballot.

“We feel good about the work that we’ve done and how we’ve been received by the community,” Murphy said on Tuesday night. “Measure C has served us well for the last 20 years. The city has been good stewards of that money, and if given the chance again, the city will continue to do that. These funds are specifically dedicated, legally, to the emergency services.”

Murphy also noted that the original Measure C had a 20-year window on it when it was previously enacted, and pointed to voters wanting to know that it would not be a tax that would go on forever without being checked in on by residents living in the area to ensure that the tax money being raised is still necessary and being spent in a useful way.

Among the Measure C opponents was City Councilman Fue Xiong who represents District 6 in north Merced. In recent Facebook posts and videos, Xiong called Measure C a “regressive sales tax” and one that “funnels our tax money into criminalizing our residents.”

Xiong said the city needs to focus on what he calls “community safety” which he says includes more investing in youth, parks, and “housing for all.”

Five Ten BistroMARCH PRIMARYMeasure CMerced
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