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Council News Release

3/17/2008  3:03:00 PM
Martin McOmber, Mayors Office 206-684-8358
David Yeaworth, Clark Office, 206-684-5328
Clark Office, 206-684-5328
Lisa Herbold, Licata Office, 206-684-5331

Mayor Greg Nickels
Councilmember Sally J. Clark
Councilmember Nick Licata
Councilmember Tim Burgess
Council President Richard Colin
Councilmember Jean Godden
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen
Councilmember Jan Drago

New law gives cities more options for campaign finance reform

SEATTLE The Seattle City Council and Mayor Greg Nickels announced a plan today to appoint a joint task force to begin work as soon as possible on developing proposals for public financing of campaigns. Governor Christine Gregoire signed Senate Bill 5278 today, which gives cities the option to establish public financing of political campaigns.

Matching funds can be a powerful tool to cap campaign expenditures, said Mayor Nickels, who has been a longtime supporter of public financing. And it helps spur more involvement in the process by increasing the number of people who contribute and lowering the size of the average contribution.

Councilmember Sally Clark said, Its important that cities have local control over decisions on how campaigns for municipal offices are funded. Were already investigating potential programs. Councilmember Nick Licata said, Im looking forward to reviewing public funding models from other cities and finding Seattles ideal solution. We need to hear whether Seattle voters agree and what the costs and feasibility of such a system are.

The senate bill removes the prohibition against the use of public funds to finance political campaigns for local office. Before a local government may adopt public funding, it must be submitted to the voters for approval. If a county, city, town, or district establishes a program to publicly finance local political campaigns, only funds derived from local sources may be used to fund the program.

The next step is to explore how Seattle voters want to finance the campaigns for city offices. We need to start an outreach process as soon as possible, said Councilmember Clark.

Public financing of campaigns will help create a more level playing field, attract new candidates, and contribute to renewed public confidence in the political process. Arizona, Maine, and Connecticut have public financing that is working very well, as do Portland and San Francisco. I'm confident we can design a new system that will work very well," Councilmember Tim Burgess said.

Councilmember Richard Conlin said, I have always supported the idea of public campaign financing and I am thrilled that the legislature has finally given us the authority move forward. This is a great way to increase access to the democratic process.

Councilmember Jean Godden said, I feel strongly that public financing will level the playing field for candidates and offer voters greater and more diverse choices.

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen said, Weve supported this for a long time. I urge the City to move quickly to take advantage of this great opportunity that the Legislature gave us.

I strongly support the idea of restoring public campaign financing to City elections as long as campaign spending limits are a part of the package. We must bring sanity back to campaign spending, said Councilmember Jan Drago.


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