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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

October 16, 2013 at 7:33 AM

Proposition 1 and the Seattle City Council

Helps incumbents, not new candidates

I am writing to voice concerns over the upcoming vote on Seattle Proposition 1, which is being referred to as a campaign finance reform measure [“Is Prop. 1 answer to big money in City Council campaigns?” NWMonday, Oct. 14].

I think most people will agree there is too much money in politics. As people become more educated about Proposition 1, they will agree that the additional taxpayer money this measure will throw at candidates is not the solution — and may in fact make matters worse.

Proposition 1 is a $9 million property tax levy that will finance only City Council candidates’ campaigns. It’s not surprising that two City Council members, Mike O’Brien and Nick Licata, are considered the primary advocates for this measure.

Under Proposition 1, a candidate who raises $30,000 will then be eligible for $180,000 in taxpayer money to use for campaign purposes. This measure does not require any candidate to abide by those limits, nor restrict in any way special interest money or PAC expenditures. This measure would also require candidates to have more than 600 donors. Multiple analyses have observed that this requirement could help incumbents rather than bring new candidates into the process, which is Proposition 1’s stated goal.

Laverne Lamoureux, Seattle

Bring small donors into the fold

Proposition 1 will be incredibly beneficial to Seattle. Allowing a number of small donors to play a more significant role in City Council elections is incredibly important.

It would allow candidates to raise small donations, which could be matched by public funds to finance their campaigns. This makes small donations much more important, while at the same time diluting the power of large donations.

The example of public financing in the New York City Council races is evidence that this can work. When small donations began to be matched by public funds, the number of people who donated to campaigns increased substantially. These donors were from areas that had been disproportionately left out of the political process, and resulted in more people having an impact in politics while using less money.

We can accomplish this here, and it can only be an improvement in Seattle politics.

Wes Ahrens, Seattle

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