Kevin McDonald wrote:

You may recall that in October 2005, Albuquerque adopted full public financing reform in a decisive 69 percent victory on a city charter amendment. Portland is also a model of campaign finance reform through its "Voter-owned Elections" ordinance." In both cities, participating candidates receive limited amounts of campaign dollars from a publicly financed fund if they agree to:

1) Collect a large number of $5 qualifying contributions to demonstrate community support
2) Reject private money contributions
3) Limit campaign spending
4) Agree to comply with strict administrative regulations
Public financing of Minneapolis city elections is much needed - and I like the term "Voter-owned Elections" as it gets to the point. In my bid for Ward 3 City Council, I spent roughly $4/vote while my opponent spent roughly $40/vote, 10 times as much and largely funded from her own pocket. Also, there's a connection to Sherman Associates - a huge player in city development projects - as I remember reading that CM-elect Hofstede had an Sherman Exec as her Campaign Manager initially (can someone verify this?) and was criticized for an appearance of conflict of interest. In my opinion, that's too close for comfort. I realize people have the right to funds their own campaigns and take PAC and special interest money (which Greens are prohibited from taking), put I feel that there must be at least a public financing component to campaigns to level the playing field. I would advocate for a majority of money to come from residents of the Ward/district/etc. and NOT from outside interests that do a lot of business with the city. It seems that city elections may be more "Developer-owned" that "Voter-owned."

I believe the time has come for electoral reform. Many of us can agree that this is sorely needed at the national level, so let's give it a whirl at our local level.
1. Campaign Finance Reform (like the publicly financed Portland model)
2. Charter reform such as Instant Run-off Voting.
3. Lower legal age to run for City Council form 21 to 18. This would be a good start. From there we could discuss amending the City Charter to create at-large council seats (again using at least IRV), more council seats in general (possibly 2-3 CMs per ward). Only when we have comprehensive democratic reform - primarily electoral reform - will we actualize true Grassroots Democracy at the municipal level where all interests are represented. With electoral reform, including IRV and public financing of campaigns, a truly effective government is possible.

Aaron Neumann
Bottineau Neighborhood, NE Mpls
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