Portland City Council candidates are hard at work attempting to raise enough money to qualify for public funds in Portland's Voter-Owned Elections system, and the Oregonian details their efforts:
It's classic retail politics. Knocking on doors, talking to people, enlisting an army of friends and family to help pound the pavement. But the six candidates for Portland City Council aren't trolling for votes, at least not yet.
They need $5 from 1,000 Portland voters to qualify for $145,000 in public money.
It's harder than it looks, and chances are good that not everyone will make it by the Jan. 31 deadline.
Amanda Fritz leads the pack with more than 800 contributors and Charles Lewis is next with nearly 700. But none of the other candidates has reached the halfway mark, and time is running out.
And one potential candidate, Multnomah County Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey, hasn't decided whether to take advantage of public financing.
Still, all exude confidence, even skateboard shop owner Howard Weiner, who has reported only 19 contributions since jumping in the race three weeks ago.
Many of the candidates still have a ways to go:
Most candidates got a late start, adding to the current time squeeze. Lewis, co-owner of Portland Duck Tours and executive director of the nonprofit Ethos Music Center, began collecting donations on the first day he legally could, July 13.
Fritz, a registered nurse and former city planning commissioner, said she hopes to reach the threshold by the first of the year, giving her time to deal with any problems. Another bonus: "I'd be able to stop asking people for money, which would be nice."
John Branam, development director for Portland Public Schools, has gathered about 420 contributions and expects to make the deadline.
Public utility advocate Jeff Bissonnette has reported 233 donations, and he hopes to hit the 300 mark this week. "I'm going to push pretty hard to get the rest in," he said.
Chris Smith, an Internet techie for Xerox and a well-known transportation advocate, is at 375 contributions. He thinks the pace will accelerate as the deadline looms and his supporters overcome procrastination.
This election cycle is a critical one for the entire Voter-Owned system:
This is a critical test for the campaign finance system since its scandal-ridden inauguration in 2006. This time around, it's been mostly smooth and squeaky clean so far.
But reforms may have set the bar too high. Auditor Gary Blackmar said it would be "a little worrisome" if only one or two candidates qualified. "We want to make it reachable for anyone who is organized and works hard at it," he said.
After next year's election, the city's citizen campaign commission will analyze what worked and what didn't.
Read the rest. Will this be a successful year for Voter-Owned Elections?