Clean Elections San Diego
It Is Time For Clean Elections
By Mark Linsky, Chair, Clean Elections San Diego
Twenty Five years ago the journalist and political commentator Hendrik Hertzberg wrote: “Money, the curdled mother’s milk of politics, is the most humiliating, corrupting part of a politician’s life”. Not much has changed since he wrote that, but there is a way the system can be dramatically improved in San Diego. The answer is Clean Elections, in which the power of private interests and private monies are countered by candidates who are publically funded.
To qualify for the money a participating candidate must, among other things, agree not to solicit or accept private funds, must gather hundreds of $5 donations to show he or she in fact has the backing of the community from which they come and is not some fly-by-night opportunist. And the candidate cannot use personal funds as a work-around.
The advantages of Clean Elections are many including the obvious big one: It removes the shadow of special interests from the campaign itself. But it also empowers neighborhoods by giving well known and well respected local candidates a way to fund a competitive campaign without drinking that ‘curdled mother’s milk’. In addition it frees up a candidate to spend time out in the community, listening to neighbors, asking the right questions and gathering ideas from neighborhood organizations rather than spending countless hours raising money. Finally, if elected, the payoff is programs and policies which are enacted free from the taint of undue influence.
The only objection those of us involved in the Clean Elections campaign have heard over the years is the ‘cost’ of such a program. In our 2020 initiative the cost was pegged at about $4 per resident of the City of San Diego per year. Now we believe we can run it for even less. But citizens need to ask themselves the following: What has the ‘cost’ been in sweetheart deals, questionable practices and benefits accrued to private interests over past decades?
Clean Elections is an alternative to the present electoral system which can and should be implemented no later than 2024. Money will continue to flow to candidates willing to maintain the status quo, but as a new generation of publicly funded candidates run for and win office, the result will be policies and programs which increasingly benefit the citizens, not private interests. We talk about San Diego as ‘America’s Finest City’, and in many ways we are, but the time has come to add a better and more inclusive way of electing our representatives so that the slogan becomes equally meaningful when it comes to holding public office.
Clean Elections San Diego
Happy Holidays Everyone,
As you know, we came close to getting clean elections on the San Diego city ballot last year, but we lost at the city council by one vote.
And you know that we still feel that we cannot give up on Clean Elections. We believe that clean elections or public financing of elections is still the best way to reform our government to ensure that our elected leaders represent all of us, not just the few, not just the wealthy and not just the special interests.
Right now, we are still planning for the future. We are looking at what works and what doesn’t work. You know that we have adopted a new name: Clean Elections San Diego and we have started fundraising again to set up our new web page..
Now, we would like more of your input. What are your suggestions on how we can go forward, how we can get clean elections on the ballot and how we can win the campaign. Do you have skills that would be helpful? Do you know people that we should talk to? Call me or send me an email.
Another question we have is, do you want us to start hosting meetings again. Before the pandemic we held monthly in-person meetings. If we set up meetings again, would you prefer meeting in person or by zoom? Let us know. As I said before, we would like your input.
And we still have to cover the cost of the campaign even though we are all volunteers. First, I want to thank everyone who has sent in a check to help us set up a new web page. We had asked for your help, but since then, a web designer volunteered to help us at no cost. Therefore we will use these funds to start building a financial war chest to cover the campaign costs that lie in the future.
To help us build that war chest, can you help out financially. either, with a small or large contribution? If so, please send a check made out to: Clean Elections San Diego and mail to: c/o John Hartley, 3911 Park Blvd, #1014, San Diego, CA 92103. Once we have our new web page, we will be able to take credit and debit card contributions. And if you are interested in getting mentoring in organizing, let us know and we can help you master skills such as public speaking, recruitment and organizing effective meetings.
And lastly, we still invite you to watch a short (8 minutes long) film called Road to Clean Elections hosted by Bill Moyers which shows the positive impact of clean elections on Arizona and Maine, and how clean elections actually works. If you have seen it before, we invite you to watch it again. I have seen it hundreds of times and I am inspired each time.
Click here to watch Road to Clean Elections: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgVNjtr2lEc
Thanks for your support and if you have any questions or suggestions, please contact me at 619-299-8870 or email@example.com
John Hartley, Clean Elections Campaign Coordinator