Build South Central Campaign
The voter-approved South Central Light Rail Extension had everyone on board, including the federal government, ready to release nearly $600 million to support the $1 billion project. The 5.5 mile South Central line is the next stop in Phoenix’s $31.5 billion transportation plan will create exceptional access for South Phoenix residents to the 26-mile light rail system. However, in February 2019, in the midst of final planning, a small group of business owners who gave the appearance of a local grassroots effort, mounted a nearly successful effort to completely kill the South Central Extension in a City Council Meeting in June.
Last-minute efforts to engage pro-light rail advocates kept the project alive. The City Council voted on a 90-day delay to reevaluate the lane configurations and directed city staff and Valley Metro to conduct additional community engagement.
Strategy and Tactics:
Just five weeks before the decisive vote, Resolute launched the Build South Central campaign. The hard- hitting public affairs campaign was focused on securing the City Council votes required to proceed with the South Central Extension as planned.
- Research revealed that the “grass roots group” was funded by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, an affiliate of the Koch Brothers and Americans for Prosperity.
- We built the BuildSouthCentral.com website to serve as the communications hub and activate supporters to send letters of support to City Council.
- We launched an aggressive local and national media relations effort that detailed the out-of-state opposition funding connection and the community support for light.
- Outreach and communications specialists built a coalition of over 300 Phoenix supporters including residents, business community members, faith-based organizations, elected officials, and civic leaders.
- The day before the City Council vote, we held the “Rally for the Rails” press conference featuring former Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and mayoral candidates at the time Kate Gallego and Daniel Valenzuela and community supporters. Nearly every news outlet ran a story that evening.
The day of the special council meeting, our team prepared speakers, educated the media and presented City Council members with over 1,200 letters of support for the light rail extension from South Phoenix residents. On September 26, 2018, the Phoenix City Council voted 6-2 in favor of the voter-approved South Central Light Rail extension as submitted to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).