FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: THURSDAY, APRIL 14, 2022
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Oakland ethics commissioners, city council members back Oakland Fair Elections Act to modernize city’s public financing system
Council President Bas, Vice Mayor Kaplan, Councilmember Kalb advocate in support
OAKLAND, CA – Last night, the Oakland Public Ethics Commission voted 4-1 to support the Oakland Fair Elections Act, a proposed ballot measure to modernize the city’s current public financing system, allow all voters meaningfully back candidates they support, and let candidates focus on their communities, instead of chasing big money. The Commission will also establish a subcommittee to work with the Fair Elections Oakland coalition and the City Council to move forward. At the meeting, staff for Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, staff for Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, and community leaders including from the League of Women Voters – Oakland, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, and Bay Rising voiced strong support. Councilmember Kalb was also in attendance.
“The Oakland Fair Elections Act is a much-needed modernization of our current campaign finance and lobbying laws,” said Council President Bas. “As elected officials, we want to spend our time doing what we signed up to do – talking directly with our constituents and advancing policies that benefit our communities, not wealthy donors or corporate special interests.”
“If you care about climate justice, affordable housing, community safety and police accountability, you have to care about creating a democracy that works for all of us, not just those who routinely donate to political campaigns,” said Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb. “Our current system, which is dominated by big donors and outside money, is out of balance. We need to change who has access to power and remove barriers to running for local office.”
“The Democracy Dollars proposal would encourage voter turnout and help diversify the
Oakland community’s participation in our election process,” said Vice Mayor Kaplan in a letter to the commission, referring to the Oakland Fair Elections Act. “In the election cycles of 2014, 2016, and 2018, over half of Oakland campaign donors were clustered in four zip codes – which are Oakland’s wealthiest and majority white neighborhoods… All of Oakland should have the resources to support the candidates they believe will best represent them.”
During a panel presentation with liz suk of Oakland Rising, Jonathan Mehta Stein of California Common Cause, and Gail Wallace of the League of Women Voters of Oakland, the Fair Elections Oakland coalition emphasized how the proposal would ensure more effective local government.
“The people of Oakland work hard, and they deserve elected leaders who work hard for them,” said suk. “This is about ensuring our representatives rep us – all of us, no matter what we look like or where we live, whether it’s the flatlands or the hills.”
“This proposal will help Oakland candidates and elected officials skip the endless merry-go-round of fundraisers and phone calls with big-money donors and get to the business of serving the people of Oakland and making Oaklanders’ lives better,” said Mehta Stein.
“The Oakland Fair Elections Act will empower our leaders to build real connections with the communities they represent,” said Wallace. “It will also empower voters of every background to support the candidates they like and engage more deeply in our democracy.”
The Fair Elections Oakland coalition includes Oakland Rising; the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California; Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus; Bay Rising; CA Common Cause; League of Women Voters – Oakland; and MapLight. fairelectionsoakland.org