Here’s some good news to celebrate: Yesterday, an overwhelming majority of Chicago residents affirmed the role of public financing in their elections. A ballot measure promoting small-donor public financing in all 50 wards of Chicago passed by 79 percent to 21 percent, and was endorsed by a dozen organizations, several alderman and all mayoral candidates, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The campaign finance referendum question was placed on the ballot by Common Cause Illinois, and read:
Should the City of Chicago or the State of Illinois reduce the influence of special interest money in elections by financing campaigns using small contributions from individuals and a limited amount of public money?
We commend Common Cause for providing the leadership needed to help promote an open and accountable government. Empowering small donors can help level the political playing field, particularly at a time when elections are only getting more and more expensive and the political 1 percent are increasingly sought as gatekeepers to the halls of power.
“Special interests may think they can buy Chicago elections, but they could not stop Chicago voters from standing up for their democratic rights,” said Rey Lopez-Calderon, executive director of Common Cause Illinois. “This victory sends a powerful message to City Hall and Springfield that people will no longer stand for a corrupt system that only allows candidates backed by the ultra-rich to win elections.”
It definitely sends a powerful message. We can’t wait to see the lasting impact this measure will have.