Editors, Daily Planet:
Letâ€™s hope that the citizens of Berkeley will evaluate Measure H fairly before falling prey to such specious arguments summoned up by a recent letter to the editor. I doubt that an anti-Semitic and racist homphobe candidate could qualify for public financing. It takes 500 $5 donations to qualify to run for mayor, a high threshold in comparison to Maine (where it takes 50 $5 donations to run for similar sized jurisdictions). There hasnâ€™t been a single case of an undeserving or undesirable candidate running in a statewide race in Maine.
The argument that incumbents will not need to be responsive to the community is patently false. The situations in Maine and Arizona do not support this contention, and neither does it hold water theoretically. A challenger would easily defeat an unpopular incumbent as they will both qualify for the same amount of funding. It simply does not follow that an incumbent who is not responsive to his or her constituents would have an advantage over a challenger willing to address the needs and wishes of the voters.
Finally, the idea that elected officials, who are freed up to serve their constituency by public financing, would be so burdened by the cost of it that they would not be accountable is another red herring. The cost of public financing is very small (approximately $5 per Berkeley resident) and will add immeasurable value to our democracy.
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