More Measure H

By Trent Lange, Letter to the Editor

Editors, Daily Planet:

Keith Winnard’s letter about Measure H on Sept. 17 states common concerns about public financing of campaignsâ€"that fringe candidates might get public money, that it is somehow a gift to incumbents, and that it costs too much. Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

Measure H is based on the extremely successful Clean Money, Fair Elections systems used in Arizona and Maine. Like their systems, Measure H requires that participa- ting candidates show they have a broad base of public support by gathering a substantial number of signatures and $5 contributionsâ€"100 for city council candidates and 500 for mayoral candidates. Only candidates with substantial support in the community can reach those thresholds. They are even higher than those of Arizona and Maine, where fringe candidates rarely receive public funds.

The miracle of public financing is that candidates with a broad base of public support actually get enough funding to compete against incumbents and wealthy candidates. In Arizona and Maine, more women and minority candidates are able to run for office and more challengers have defeated incumbents. In Arizona, the percentage of races decided by money dropped from 79 percent to only 2 percent. In other words, public financing allows elections to be decided by issues, not money. No wonder voter turnout increased by 20 percent.

As for the small cost of public financing: Arizona and Maine both have sound, balanced budgets passed by diverse and talented officials elected without private funds, providing the services their people want. California doesn’t. The federal government doesn’t. The city of Berkeley doesn’t. Is this a coincidence?

The real question isn’t how we can afford to have public financing of campaigns. It’s how can we afford not to? Vote Yes on H.

Trent Lange
Vice President, California Clean Money Campaign
San Francisco

See the article on Berkeley Daily Planet website

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