President Ellen Barton of the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County announced that the organization has endorsed City of Seattle Initiative 122, Honest Elections Seattle.
“Since 1974 it has been The League of Women Voters of the United States’ position that the methods of financing political campaigns should ensure the public’s right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office and allow maximum citizen participation in the political process,” said Barton. The League believes that public financing is the best long term solution to getting big money out of politics. States like Arizona, Connecticut and Maine have had success in public financing with state house and statewide elections. The League continues to look for ways to limit the size and type of contributions from all sources as a means of combating undue influence in the election process. “I-122 will reestablish public financing of campaigns in Seattle and reduce the influence special interests and large, wealthy contributors have in our campaigns for mayor, city attorney and city council. This initiative will help empower everyday people in Seattle politics,” said Barton. “It has long been the goal of the League to ensure that ordinary people have their voices heard in local campaigns.”
This measure will give every Seattle voter $100 in Democracy Vouchers to be “spent” on qualified candidates for mayor, City attorney or City council. The vouchers are redeemable by the candidate for cash which can be spent on campaign expenses. This means candidates for City council, City attorney or mayor can go to everyday people for contributions instead of turning to wealthy donors and/or special interests to finance their campaigns.
The measure also lowers contribution limits for all candidates in City races, bans contributions from large city contractors or persons or entities that spend over $5,000 per year on paid lobbyists.
The measure is estimated to cost City taxpayers $3 million a year, which will be paid for with a property tax increase of approximately 65 cents per month for the owner of a $400,000 home.
League President Barton said, “This is a good deal for city residents. For pennies per day we can help make democracy work for ordinary citizens and combat the influence of big money interests in local politics.”
For more information about the initiative and to see the full text of the measure go to Honest Elections Seattle.