Toll debate continues as election nears - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Toll debate continues as election nears


New Orleans, La. - In the days leading up to November's election, people on both sides of the toll issue made their feelings well known.

"I think it's absolutely irresponsible not to say yes to keep the money coming in," said Todd Murphy of the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce.

"To steal a famous presidential line, Mr. and Mrs. Voter, tear down these toll booths," said business owner John Roberts.

Voters head back to the polls May 4, this time making what will likely be the last decision about tolls on the Crescent City Connection.

Opponents of the tolls said they were outspent in the last election, when the choice to keep the tolls won by just 36 votes.

"Anything can happen in this race so we're not taking anything for granted," said Pat Hand, the attorney representing Stop the Tolls. "We're working hard every day, every night, all weekend we'll be working."

But there doesn't seem to be so much public debate this time, even though there are still passionate opinions on both sides of the issue.

Members of Stop the Tolls met with the Greater New Orleans Republicans Thursday night, a group that endorses candidates and public policies.

"We had heard from the pro tolls side, now we wanted to hear from the anti-tolls side, especially because it's a hot button issue," says GNOR Director J.T. Hannan. "We've heard a lot of things in the media about the pros and cons of it."

So why haven't we heard more leading up to May 4?

One supporter of the tolls told FOX 8 people are just tired of hearing about it.

Toll opponents say they expect a lot more discussion as the election gets closer.

"I expect them to come out fighting in the last two weeks," says Hand. "I don't expect them to sit down and let this money go away without a fight."

The Greater New Orleans Republicans will make their recommendation on whether or not the tolls should stay in the next week.

Without a major candidate on the upcoming ballot, turnout is expected to be low.

Hannan says it's important to vote anyway.

"If it's a school board race or a ballot initiative, you have to go out and vote and make your presence," he says. "Otherwise, you won't have a place to stand on if you disagree with the issue."

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