The following address was presented to the Longmont City Council at its May 18th meeting:
Good evening Mayor Baum and members of the Council. I am pleased to be here tonight to speak in support of the Election Committee’s recommendations for the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act and to urge you to pass it.
I moved to Longmont two months ago and am very pleased to find this legislation is being introduced. Over the last ten years, I have spent a lot of time and energy on campaign finance reform, voter registration and the running of fair and efficient voting systems. I worked with the California Secretary of State to ensure that Diebold voting machines were banned from use in California and with the Ventura County Attorney to prosecute a vendor for illegal voter registration tactics – so I am very aware of these continual threats to our election process and the need for continued vigilance and oversight.
Like many other new citizens, I have a passionate concern for the preservation of democracy and believe that not only must the election process be democratic but it must be seen by the public to be democratic. As a nation, we can hardly be critical of other countries electoral shortcomings if we ourselves are being careless with the process and looking to subvert it for partisan political ends.
Elections therefore must be free, fair and honest and campaign finance rules must include limits on contributions, with frequent reporting, transparency and greater disclosure making the process completely accessible to the general public. One of the reasons that voters are becoming disaffected with government generally is because of the complexity of bureaucracy, the difficulty in obtaining information and the feeling that a vote doesn’t count because it’s all to do with Big Money anyway.
We can put a stop to this in Longmont – along with cities and counties all over the country who have drafted their own campaign finance rules where they find state and national rules inadequate. We can stop the drift toward apathy and cynicism by bringing back confidence in the electoral system – and the best way to start is at City level, where voters and their elected representatives have the closest contact.
Colorado has a very exciting opportunity to introduce campaign reform with Ballot Initiative 53 which will be on the ballot in November once sufficient signatures are obtained. Three states to date – Connecticut, Maine and Arizona – have already passed similar publicly funded Clean Campaigns initiatives with great success. For example, candidate participation, has increased from 30% to over 90% in Maine within just 8 years. Measures such as these are vital to counter the undue influence of the massive infusion of corporate money on elections, increasing now because of the recent Supreme Court Citizens United decision.
With reform coming at state level, the City of Longmont will be prepared to play its part in bringing back democracy to the electoral process. I commend you all for your hard work in setting up an Elections Committee and bringing this important legislation to the public notice – and hopefully soon to a successful vote and implementation.