Maryland candidate for delegate campaigns against speed cameras

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Local,Maryland

Craig Herskowitz is about to find out just how far Marylanders would go to do away with speed cameras.

Herskowitz is running for state delegate as a self-prescribed litmus test for Maryland’s speed camera program.

“I’m making myself the referendum on speed cameras,” Herskowitz told The Washington Examiner.

Never mind other candidates’ chatter about the economy, education or taxes, he said.

“A freshman delegate is not going to have a tremendous impact on those issues, as an individual,” he said. “If I win, it sends a big, powerful message to Annapolis to eliminate the cameras.”

The 29-year-old political newcomer is up against 12 other candidates for Montgomery County’s open 16th District seat, which includes Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Potomac.

Herskowitz, a lawyer, says speed cameras are unconstitutional and endanger drivers by leading them to slam on their brakes around cameras. He calls the tickets a “hidden tax” and has strategically placed his campaign signs next to speed cameras in his district.

Herskowitz started his campaign after he was fined for by a camera in March 2009. He says he wasn’t the driver and that the state should not make it incumbent on car owners to prove their innocence in such cases.

He isn’t alone: Across the country, dozens of local political candidates are embarking on anti-camera crusades.

Research is divided over the cameras’ effectiveness, and federal officials have begun questioning whether state and local governments are misusing their red light cameras to nab more drivers and boost their revenues.

Nearly 550 local governments use speed and red light cameras, while 15 states and 11 cities have banned their use, according to the National Motorist Association.

Traffic camera programs are growing in the District, Maryland and Virginia, where nearly 300 cameras are located and local officials have figured millions of dollars into their hurting budgets in expected camera revenue. Arlington added four red light cameras in June, and dozens of cameras have popped up in Prince George’s County since April, when the county won state approval to expand its program.

“It’s going to become a police state where there are cameras on every street,” Herskowitz warned. “I think this is the most important issue facing Maryland.”

Tuesday’s polls will indicate whether voters agree, he said.

hpeterson@washingtonexaminer.com

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