Berkeley’s Measure X1
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Politics and Activism

Berkeley’s Measure X1

Vote Yes on X1 this Fall to ensure the political integrity of public service.

Berkeley’s Measure X1
California Common Cause

It is my firm belief that getting money out of politics is a necessary prerequisite we must take before we may think about being politically successful in addressing the economic plight of everyday Americans or governing to benefit the 99%. Anyone who argues otherwise, in my view, does not recognize the corrosive nature of big money and the way in which it not only runs counter to true democracy, but has also misdirected the meaning and purpose of public service in modern American politics.

It is for this very reason that I am so grateful for the opportunity I currently have in serving as a student volunteer on the campaign for Measure X1, the only city-level campaign finance ballot initiative in the country this Fall.

Voters in the City of Berkeley have the unique chance to pass this revolutionary initiative and significantly expand their power as everyday residents in local elections by voting Yes on Measure X1 in November. If passed, this ballot initiative will establish a voluntary system of publicly-funded elections in order to promote fair elections and empower local candidates to collect small-donor contributions from a broader base. Endorsed by Former Secretary of Labor and Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, Robert Reich, and California Common Cause, Measure X1 will help keep local elections local by increasing the impact of small-dollar contributions, amplifying the voices of all Berkeley residents rather than just wealthy donors.

If passed, Measure X1 would create a public-matching fund in which candidates running for local office must receive 30 contributions of $50 or less, only from individual persons residing in Berkeley, and not contribute more than $50 of their own funds to their campaign, in order to qualify for 6:1 ratio matching funds: for every one dollar donation from local residents, candidates will receive six dollars in public funds for their campaign, capping at $40,000 for city council and $120,000 for mayor – historically enough to run a successful, winning campaign.

It is the campaign’s strong conviction that this will encourage candidates to spend more time talking to everyday voters and their constituents and not just the wealthiest of donors or special interest groups that will in turn help them raise funds for their campaigns or reelection.

Measure X1 provides a crucial solution to current problems with money in politics in Berkeley. Seven out of eight of the last Berkeley city council elections have gone to the candidate who raised the most money, as occurred in the last mayoral race as well. More than half of campaign funds come from less than 1%, that is 350, households, and 1 out of every 3 dollars in campaign contributions for currently serving City Council members and Mayor came from outside of Berkeley. In the last 20 years, not a single incumbent City Council member has run and lost their seat. 58% of contests for City Council and Mayor in the last ten years have been uncompetitive. The citizen-funded system which this ballot initiative would establish would lower the entry barrier and widen the field for more Berkeley residents, who do not necessarily have the funds to run expensive local campaigns themselves, to competitively enter local races, offer a diverse range of candidates for office and come out victorious.

Measure X1 does not raise taxes; it merely takes from existing city revenues equal to 0.16% of the budget, that is $4 per citizen or a little under $500,000, a cost I find necessary to ensure the public’s faith in local officials.

This system has seen excellent results in New York City and Los Angeles. For example, in Los Angeles, only 21% of donors gave small contributions to local campaigns in 2001; after a similar measure was passed, this statistic rose to 45% in 2015. The impact of citizen-funded elections has been noted in great detail by The Campaign Finance Institute.

Together, we can amplify the voices of Berkeley residents and transfer political power back to where it belongs: with the people. For more information on Measure X1, to join our email list or donate, you may visit the campaign’s official website or like Yes on X1’s Facebook page. A streamlined explanation of Measure X1 is available here, and you may view the plethora of organizations, activists and council members who have endorsed this ballot initiative here. The campaign actively welcomes any individuals interested in volunteering as well.

I strongly encourage all Berkeley residents to join me in voting Yes on X1 this Fall to advance public campaign finance efforts and lead the way for Californians and the American people to begin demanding the democratization of all elections.

Ridding ourselves of the overwhelming presence of money purchasing influence in American politics as a form of legalized corruption is not a partisan issue, but rather an American one.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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