Santa Fe has chance to adopt “Voter-Owned Elections”

In the March 4th municipal election, Santa Feans will have a chance to join the ranks of states and cities across the nation that have opted for Clean Elections public financing.

On the ballot is Charter Amendment 4, which if passed, would set in motion a process for establishing public financing before May 2010.

Albuquerque voters adopted Clean Elections in 2005 by a staggering 69% to 31% margin. The new system was employed successfully for the first time by candidates in last October’s City Council elections.

An in-depth analysis of the Santa Fe charter amendment is in today’s Santa Fe New Mexican. In it, newly elected Albuquerque City Councilor Rey Garduño nails the case for Clean Elections public financing:

“I support it because … no developer-driven, corporate-driven, money-driven, special-interest candidate can hold sway over someone else.”

That concern should resonate with Santa Feans who find their quality of life under increasing assault by big developers and now Big Oil.

After a series of high-level corruption scandals, Arizona adopted Clean Elections public financing and used it for the first time in 2000. Governor Janet Napolitano was elected in 2002, and re-elected in 2006, using the system.

The state of New Mexico put in place public financing of campaigns for the Public Regulation Commission starting with the 2006 election. Last year, public financing for statewide judicial offices – the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals — was passed.

Clean Elections legislation for statewide executive offices was recommended by the state’s Ethics Reform Task Force in 2007 and introduced in the House during the recently concluded legislative session (House Bill 564). Despite polling data showing 70% plus support for the reform, resistance from a bipartisan group of key legislative leaders succeeded in bottling the measure up in committee.

For more information on the Clean Elections fight, take a look at the Common Cause New Mexico website.

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