Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dixon's Voters Put Downs To The Test

Dixon's Voters Put Downs To The Test
By Melissa Murphy/Staff Writer

More than half of Dixon's registered voters are expected to turn out Tuesday and vote on whether Dixon Downs, the proposed $250 million horse racing and entertainment facility, should be built.

"I'm guessing at least 50 percent of the voters will come out to vote, it may even go over," said Deborah Seiler assistant elections manager for the Solano County Registrar of Voters.

Yard signs still are alternating between neighbors in support of and opposition to the track. The atmosphere in Dixon, one day before the fate of the track will be decided, is one of excitement and anticipation.

Dixon resident Susan Morris, who was enjoying the Monday sunshine at the Women's Improvement Park is looking forward to a final result.

"I'm glad it will be over," Morris said, adding that she's lived in Dixon for the last nine years. "I've seen the Dixon Downs process change over the years and I've also had a change of heart."

Not wanting to reveal her decision on the project, Morris was quick to assure that she'll be at the polls today to cast her vote.

Norman and Daphne Cryer, who were enjoying hot dogs at Sweet Stuff, a newer restaurant in Dixon, already had mailed in their absentee ballots. They have lived in Dixon for the past 35 years and are looking forward to the changes Dixon Downs promises to bring.

"We're very much in favor of the track," Daphne said. "We're very excited. It will put Dixon on the map."

She also added that most of her neighbors are in favor of the track, but that most of the city, overall, is split down the middle.

Each side is doing last-minute campaigning to make sure voters don't forget today is the day to cast their vote.

Monday evening "Don't Let Dixon Downs" campaign supporters hitched up a trailer to a pickup truck with a pretend race horse on the back. Driving through the Dixon streets with the horse, Norman Williams, with the help of a bull horn reminded residents to get out and vote.

"We're just trying to remind everyone to vote," Williams said.

Using a quieter approach Dixon Citizens for Quality Growth and other opponents used their creativity to post more yard signs around town with a unique flare.

A large sale tag sits in one yard. It reads, "Dixon is Not For Sale," while another proclaimed that "No on Dixon Downs" was the majority opinion of Dixon's residents and that they just needed to vote.

Today, voters will get their chance to vote on two ordinances and two resolutions, dubbed Measures M, N, O and P.

The nine precincts at five polling locations will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

The locations are the Dixon Fire Station, 205 Ford Way; Grace Fellowship Church, 535 West H St.; Denverton Hall at the May Fair, 655 S. 1st St.; City Hall, 600 East A St.; and Dixon Medical Center, 125 N. Lincoln St.

Representatives will be at each polling location to observe the setup, the voting process and the take-down. The several representatives also will alternate locations throughout the day.

"We're slipping into a low-key mode now," said Ada Preston, a member of Dixon Citizens for Quality Growth. "We feel we've done what we could do. It's up to the people now to vote the right way. We're just going to follow through with our battle plan and hope for the very best."

Tomorrow the group will be checking the lists of those who have already voted, participating in phone banks and offering rides to the respective polling places.

"We've been motivated for the last two years, working 24/7 to defend our little town," Preston added. "We'll do what we have to do to not over look anything."

Similar to the opponents, the proponents will be making phone calls at a few homes set up for phone banks and also offering transportation.

"We're busy, busy," said Erin Lehane, campaign manager for "Don't Let Dixon Down." "We're very excited, but we have a sense of urgency. We've worked so hard."

Magna Entertainment Corp., the Canada-based developer proposing the track, recently had to dispel rumors that even a "yes" vote of the people doesn't mean the track will be built.

"Not so," said Dennis Mills, vice chairman of Magna, responding to Magna CEO Michael Neuman's quotes that, according to Mills, were taken out of context.

"He meant that to make the horse racing industry better we need a litany of changes including, night racing, instant racing and technology improvements. Our intention is on renewing the horse industry," Mills said.

Mills added that those changes can be made and the races will happen at Dixon Downs as long as the track meets the parameters established by the California Horse Racing Board.

For additional questions regarding polling locations call the Registrar of Voters at 784-6675 or (888) 933-VOTE.

Melissa Murphy can be reached at dixon@thereporter.com.

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