I have been involved in promoting clean and fair elections for years in our county. Therefore, I am proud of the League of Women Voters of California, of which I am a member, for joining the coalition of good government groups across the state who are coming out strongly in support of Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act.
On May 3, League of Women Voters of California President Janis Hirohama wrote in the California Progress Report:
“... our elected officials spend far too much time raising money and not enough time doing their jobs.
To break this pattern, we need to change the way we fund election campaigns, so that politicians can get out of the fundraising business and focus on fixing the serious issues facing our state — like education, public safety and the budget crisis.”
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I could not agree more.
Proposition 15 will change how we finance election campaigns. It creates a pilot project to provide limited public financing for secretary of state candidates in 2014 and 2018. If the pilot program is successful, it will be expanded to cover additional elected positions.
It also removes the current ban on public financing in California. In addition, it lets cities and counties implement public financing, if they choose. The state should not dictate to local governments whether or not they can have public financing.
Proposition 15 imposes strict requirements on those seeking public funding:
• Candidates would have to show broad public support by gathering signatures and $5 contributions from 7,500 registered voters.
• Participating candidates would be banned from raising or spending any money beyond set amounts.
• Spending limits and reporting requirements would be strictly enforced. Candidates could spend only on legitimate expenses and could not hire family members for their campaigns. Violators would face fines, jail time and a prohibition from running for office.
Do not be fooled by opponent’s rhetoric. Proposition 15 will not raise our taxes or take money from the general fund. In fact, it pays for itself, primarily through increased registration fees on the growing number of lobbyists (currently 4,300) in our state who pay only $25 for the two-year registration period that is among the lowest in the nation. Proposition 15 will raise the fee to $700.
Understandably, those who currently benefit from giving large donations to candidates to gain priority access and favors are not keen about Proposition 15. Wouldn’t it be nice for ordinary citizens to have the same access and influence to an elected official as a person or business capable of providing large sums of money to a campaign for elected office?
Please join the League of Women Voters, the California Nurses Association, California Common Cause, the California Clean Money Campaign, AARP, the Sierra Club and some 400 other organizations and leaders and support Proposition 15.
Your vote on June 8 is your voice. Incoming League of Women Voters San Luis Obispo County President Emily Penfield said about Proposition 15, “This is the voters’ chance to have their voices heard loud and clear.” It’s time to stop the dominance of wealthy candidates and donors and ensure that elections will be won, not bought. Vote “yes” on Proposition 15.
Trudy Jarratt is a member of the San Luis Obispo County League of Women Voters and First Vice President of the League of Women Voters of California. She has been a community activist and volunteer serving on many local boards since she moved to the county in 1989.