Passing an Open Space Measure

The Challenge

The Phillipsburg Mayor and Council placed an open space tax initiative on the ballot in a volatile local political climate. In addition to the open space measure, there was a contentious race for council on the ballot. 

While both Democrats and Republicans voted to place the measure on the ballot, one of the Republican candidates seized on the measure as a wedge issue in the campaign. He attempted to frame the issue as an attempt by the Democratic mayor to raise taxes and was falsely telling voters that the nonprofit that was engaged to assist with the measure was a "private organization" looking to profit off of the passage of the measure. 

The Trust for Public Land came to us to help turn the tide. 

The Approach

We had work to provide the facts, dispel rumors and ensure that voters were aware that the initiative was on the ballot. The goal of the mail program was threefold:

  1. Remind voters that the decision to put the Open Space and Recreation Trust Fund up for a vote was bipartisan
  2. Emphasize the benefits, such as improving parks and recreation
  3. Ensure that voters understood that there were strict accountability measures included in the language of the measure

The Results

The mail was the only paid, mass communication made about the ballot initiative during the campaign. While the Republicans swept the council races, our mail program ensured that the negative messaging around the open space measure didn't have an impact and lead to broad support on election day.  The measure passed by 10 points.