Mayor Potter Supports Voter Owned Elections

In his State of the City address today at the City Club, Mayor Tom Potter reaffirmed his support of Voter Owned Elections. He has told business leaders that he will fight the repeal “tooth and nail”. He also believes that voters will not see Voter Owned Elections as an impediment to supporting school financing.

“Not only does it provide opportunities to people who would otherwise not be able to run for public office because they don’t have the contacts. But it also levels the playing field and takes out the one thing that I believe has corrupted politics in America more than anything else – money.”

Listen to the Mayor’s complete remarks on Voter Owned Elections (mp3, 600K).

Download the entire address from City Club of Portland.

  • Karl (unverified)

    Now, IF only we could get "voter owned elections" on the state and federal level. I'm begining to think that's the only way we can save our democracy.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    I'm with you, Karl. Remember that all states with public financing also have contribution limits. We have a chance to make that Oregon law this year with petitions 8 and 37.

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    I think Potter's candor is refreshing and campaign finance reform is way overdue in any level of democracy. The two measures mentioned will level the playing field for everyone. Elections should not just be the exclusive playground of the rich and priviledged.

  • LT (unverified)

    I believe in campaign finance reform.

    I also believe in reading the wording of measures and asking questions.

    If a friend from E. Oregon tells me that the limits in a particular measure are so strict they wouldn't pay for the gas to drive from one end of a large rural district to the other, that is a specific measure I will not support--sponsors are responsible for the wording of measures and we have the right to look at the details and not just the slogan.

  • Michael Wilson (unverified)

    I guess spending other people's money to support a political philosophy they disagree with is okay by local standards. Kinda like forcing Jews to support Christian churches. And I just remembered the the late Senator William Proxmire spent about $200 total for some of his campaigns. And it was his own money. Might be nice to know how much he spent on all his campaigns. M.W.

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    Hey Michael... We do force Jews to pay for Christian churches. And Christians to pay for Jewish synagogues.

    It's called the nonprofit tax exemption. A big enough 'cost' to government that they considered abolishing in Colorado a few years back. No surprise, it didn't go anywhere.

    (And before we get off on a whole "tax cuts aren't the same as spending" rant from all the righties, I agree with you guys. Sort of. But that's a conversation for another day.)

  • LT (unverified)

    before we get off on a whole "tax cuts aren't the same as spending" rant from all the righties, I agree with you guys. Sort of

    As an accountant's daughter, it seems to me that there is income and there is outgo--money not coming in. Capital expenditures are worthwhile investments if they are fixing roads washed out, doing earthquake retrofit, building something new if the old building is outgrown or falling down, etc. Worthwhile, but still spending.

    The corporate kicker going to companies that send it out of state is not income, it is literally outgo, sending the money out of state.

    If someone thinks tax breaks benefit the state, then let us see some accountability. Some of them do, but let's see the proof. Don't expect us to take it on faith, for instance, that a tax break for second homes benefits all citizens of the state of Oregon.

    What's more, let us hear from righties where the money is coming from. "I believe so much in this tax break that I am willing to cut...." would be honest.

    "We must have this tax break but only one of those pro-taxers would ask how to pay for it" is both insulting and dishonest. I would not vote for anyone who said that--any more than I would vote for someone who says the status quo works perfectly and we don't need to discuss campaign finance reform.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    Potter admits his "outsider" status was the reason his small donation strategy worked (that and the fact that Francesconi had pissed off almost every neighborhood association or voting block).

    So, if Potter's victory was a fluke (in terms of campaign finance), you only have to look at the history of municipal elections to learn the incumbent wins 96% to 99% of the time. If you discount the "slept with a live boy or a dead girl" type of candidates (i.e. the major P/R disasters or walking wounded), the incumbent wins about 99.6% of all municipal races. The statistics are similar for Congressional Races, unless the President has losing coat tails (meaning he drags his own ticket down, and hurts his congressional breatheren).

    Here's a simple truth: if you want to beat an incumbent in a competitive race, you almost always have to outspend them to win. Ergo, "voter owned elections" will increase the incumbent retention odds, because it PREVENTS THE "CLEAN MONEY" CHALLENGER FROM OUTSPENDING THE INCUMBENT.

    There now, I feel much better.

    Those of you who support the Incumbent Retention Act are willfully blind, or unable to discern that a bunch of cheerful incumbents would never support a proposal that might actually reduce their job security. Would you like fries with your Voter Owned Elections?

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    Bruce, I see a couple of holes in your logic:

    1) When is the last time an challenger for City Council outspent an incumbent? (Might have been Frank Ivancie against Bud Clark?) So you're saying it's better to have incumbents wildly outspend challengers than to get it closer to even? It's very likely Dan Saltzman would have had no credible opposition if not for VOE. He may still have an advantage, but he's going to have to work way harder and actually talk to voters about his record. I'd say that's a benefit to the City even if Amanda doesn't beat him.

    2) Erik Sten, using VOE, is very likely going to be outspent by his challenger, Ginny Burdick.

    It's not about a completely leveling the playing field. It's about giving credible candidates a fair shot at getting their message out, AND keeping elections accountable to voters rather than contributors.

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)

    Well, Harrumph, Mr. Anderholt II. It appears your first two paragraphs derail your arguments against VOE in the last three. If 96 - 99% of all incumbents are re-elected now, how could VOE make it any worse?

    We'll get a good test of your premise very soon when VOE-funded Amanda Fritz takes on incumbent Dan Saltzman.

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    In addition to petitions 8 & 37, there is also another petition that is going to be going around for signatures. It's sponsored by Peter Buckley, who originally worked on #37.

    From what I gather, it deals with some of the concerns that people had with petition #37.

    From Rep. Buckley:

    "The Common Sense Campaign Finance Reform amends the Oregon Constitution to ban corporate contributions to candidates, candaidate campaigns, PACs, and all entities capable of passing money along to candidates, and it limits every Oregonian to an aggregate total of $15,000 to spend on Oregon campaigns each year."

    Hopefully it will also have some kind of limit on out-of-state contributions. That'll stop those who are CEOs, owners, etc. of large corporations from also giving tens of thousands to candidates in Oregon. An example would be the $20K given to Minnis' Speakers PAC from an east coast guy-- the owner of one of the biggest payday/title loan companies in the U.S.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    I'm saying the incumbents have learned that a challenger that cannot outspend them is rarely a threat. The powers of incumbency are enormous, and they have very little to do with the ability to fundraise. It has everything to do with the power to effect change that constituents see as desirable. Amanda can offer a hopeful vision of her public policy goals; Dan can point to the tangible and intagible benefits of his service.

    Why would an incubment vote in favor of "Voter Owned" (taxpaper subsidized) Elections? To get the benefit of looking VERY progressive. They can proudly assert they voted for campaign finance reform, and voluntary spending limits, and even (will ya' lookey there), point to a fresh new face (or two? not including Erik) that have entered the fray. Ironically, Erik will benefit from the provisions of VOE that will provide a dollar for dollar match if Ginny has the audacity to TRY and outspend him!!! He must be giggling himself to sleep at night.

    If Amanda can beat Dan without outspending him, it will certainly prove that anti-incumbent forces are still in play. But if she wins with only $150k, just think what she could have accomplished with $300k!

    Conversely, if Ginny manages to outspend Erik by a large margin (and still loses), it will only underline the powers of incumbency. Erik has been bringing home the bacon for the lefty fringe, and sticking it to the man: if Erik manages to paint Ginny as the mouthpiece of PGE and the West Hills Mafia, then Erik Wins. Not simply because he caricatured her intentions and personal motivation; mainly because he will have portrayed her as captive to the "special interest" money.

    Erik's special interest is re-election on the public dime. But he's VERY PROGRESSIVE about getting reelected.

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    I hope Potter is right that school funding won't get dragged down by the tram debacle, voter owned elections, and other city governance woes.

    But I spent today looking at the real estate pages in Vancouver for the first time. Some tentative home shopping ships are simply necessary. I can't subject my children to 50+ student classrooms.

  • Taxing Fellow (unverified)

    Potter's 0.95% seems like an odd number. Because 1% would have been too high?

    <h2>Why not round it up to 1% and give everybody in City Hall a new Prius? Better yet, round it up to 2%, and we might be able to build some new sidewalks FOR THE CHILDREN.</h2>
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