Friday, May 20, 2005

Michael: Portland adopts citywide clean elections based on Tucson's system

The Portland City Council passed a resolution which will fund candidate races. Modelled after similar laws in Arizona and Maine, the proposal gives mayoral candidates $200,000 for primary campaigns
and $250,000 for runoffs. To participate, they must collect $5 checks from 1,500 people.

The two Tucson city council members, Ronstadt and Dunbar, who are opting out of the Tucson clean elections system this cycle, are bucking against the trend. People are becoming fed up with big money dominating politics. People want their real daily concerns to be the heart of the political system, not big donor money and secretive quid pro quo deals. The real test, of course, will be whether Tucson voters think clean elections important enough to refuse to vote for candidates who are wholly owned by wealthy local businessmen, and increasingly, by out-of-town and even out-of-state interests.

Portland's rule will be referred to voters after two election cycles, in 2010. Voters will get to see the results of a few elections under the new system before making a decision about it. Perhaps it is also time to consider strengthening the Tucson system and likewise letting the voters give it a trial run, before a wholesale repudiation of the system by big-money candidates makes our own local system impotent.


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