Visionary Move

By Joe Ely, Pleasanton

I was heartened to read Martin Snapp's article in the June 12 edition about the opportunity that Berkeley residents will have to vote for voluntary public financing for candidates for city offices instead of the current system of all special interest private financing.

This reform will cost taxpayers slightly less than $5 per resident per year. That is a small price to pay for government leaders who are answerable only to the public interest instead of their biggest contributors.

Unfortunately, last week the city of Livermore took steps in the opposite direction by passing an ordinance to increase the limit of private contributions from $100 to $250.

As Snapp wrote, the Berkeley measure is modeled after laws passed by the people of Maine and Arizona for state office elections.

These laws have been hugely popular among voters, and have resulted in more numerous and diverse candidates, higher voter turnout, and have made other reforms possible, such as our country's most universal health care system in Maine.

California needs to follow the examples of those two states and the city of Berkeley so that the corrupting influence of private financing can be removed from state office elections, and perhaps one day, from the elections of all our government leaders.

Joe Ely


See the article on Contra Costa Times website

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