The Council has established a timeline for reviewing a recommendation from the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission for a system that would publicly fund campaigns for City Council. Washington State law allows local jurisdictions to create these systems if approved by the voters. The Council will decide whether or not to propose a system for consideration at the ballot box in November.
If we ask the voters to support a public campaign finance system, it is very important to clearly articulate the goals we want to accomplish. The academic literature shows mixed results at best when evaluating whether such programs achieve many of the goals touted by program advocates, including increased electoral competitiveness and lower election costs. On the other hand, some reviews of New York City’s campaign finance program show it has engaged much broader cross-sections of the public in the electoral process.It’s the right time to explore new ways to engage Seattle in the electoral process. This city has long been at the forefront in upholding fair elections, but we should learn from others about what can be achieved through a public campaign finance system.