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Tuesday, 08 January 2008 22:00

Clean Elections - Shirley Jin in Florida Today

Written by 
Time for 'Clean Elections'
SHIRLEY JIN


FLORIDA TODAY Guest Columnist
 
Running a political campaign today is so expensive that no matter how qualified candidates are, if they don't have money themselves or accept it from private interests, they don't really stand a chance of being elected.
 
Citizens have little opportunity to vote for politicians who aren't either wealthy or tied to special interests. This results in a government of big money special interests, not a government of the people.
 
Is it any wonder that our legislators and elected officials do not respond to what is best for the people and that citizen voices are not heard? Private money in politics holds public policy hostage, impacts our lives, health, environment, medical care, transportation, education and more.
 
In order to put voters back in control and make politicians accountable to the voters for their political decisions, seven states and two cities have implemented "Clean Elections," or full public financing, for some political offices.
 
Clean Elections is a voluntary system of public finance. Here's how it works:
 
Candidates demonstrating broad public support by collecting a set number of small qualifying contributions -- usually $5 -- from people in their district can choose to receive public funding to run competitive campaigns if they forgo private money.
 
Since participating "clean" candidates do not have to spend time raising money for their campaigns, they have time to address issues and concerns and to participate in substantive debate.
 
Clean Elections saves taxpayers money in the form of wiser, well-thought-out public policy decisions.
 
Currently the wealthy individuals, powerful corporations and special interests who supply most of the money for political campaigns are the recipients of millions of dollars in "corporate welfare" subsidies, unnecessary tax breaks, and regulatory exemptions.
 
With Clean Elections, elected leaders have the freedom to say "no" to costly giveaways without putting funds for their next election at risk.
 
In Arizona and Maine, where Clean Elections have been in place for all state races since 2000, it is a resounding success. It has been followed by an increase in qualified candidates for office, more competitive elections, and a decrease in private money in the political system.
 
After 77 percent of Maine's Senate was "cleanly elected" in 2002, Maine became the first state in the nation to pass a form of universal health care.
 
Arizona saved so much in special interest giveaways that a bipartisan coalition of cleanly-elected Democrats and Republicans has been able to increase spending on social services by nearly a billion dollars without raising taxes!
 
Now, it's Florida's turn.
 
A bill modeled on the successful systems in Maine and Arizona has been introduced to the Florida Senate, called SB2264.
 
To request support for this bill, contact Sen. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, at 690-3484 or 850-487-5053, and Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, at 752-3131 or 850-487-5056.
 
Similar Clean Elections bills were introduced to the U.S. Senate and U. S. House last month. The Space Coast Progressive Alliance is initiating a campaign to inform citizens about Clean Elections. For information, go to www.spacecoastprogressivealliance.org and click on 'Clean Elections' and get involved.
 
Jin is a member of the Space Coast Progressive Alliance who lives in Indian Harbour Beach.


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Last modified on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 19:03
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