Bay Area Voters Approve Sweeping Democracy Reform Measures To Make Government More Accountable To The People

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  • Helen Grieco

Bay area voters approved two measures to improve local government and make elected elected officials more accountable to everyday citizens.

In Berkeley, voters have joined a growing national movement to make government more representative of the people by approving Berkeley Measure XI to create citizen funded elections. 64% of voters approved Measure X1.

“Measure X1, the Berkeley Fair Elections Act, allows people of every walk of life to enter the political marketplace and run for office,” said Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause. “X1 allows small donors and everyday candidates to participate in our democracy, have their ideas be heard, and not be drowned out by wealthy special interests. That’s how democracy is supposed to work.”

“By passing Measure X1, Berkeley voters affirmed that it’s time to strengthen the voice of everyday residents in our political system” added Daniel G. Newman, Co-Chair of the Berkeley Fair Elections Coalition. “Today, Berkeley took an important step to restore balance and join the growing list of cities and states working towards more responsive and accountable elections.”  

Feng said the Fair Elections campaign finance system created by Berkeley voters is similar to programs in place for elections in Los Angeles and New York City. The systems amplify the power of small dollar political donors by matching each dollar they contribute with $6 from a special public fund. The formula makes a $50 contribution worth $350 to the candidate receiving it. The system incentivizes candidates to build a broad base of those donors rather than focusing on a few major givers. Only contributions from Berkeley residents will be matched.

Likewise, in San Francisco voters raised the ethical bar for local government leaders by passing Proposition T, banning campaign contributions and gift-giving by lobbyists to city officials.

“The resounding ‘Yes’ vote (87%) for Proposition T is a refreshing reminder that citizens still hold power and can use it to solve problems in our communities,” said Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause. “It gives every citizen an equal voice at City Hall, removing the ability of big money lobbyists to buy special influence with campaign donations and personal gifts.”

California Common Cause was also pleased to see the passage of Proposition 54, to increase legislative transparency, Proposition 59, urging Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, and Measure L, citywide redistricting reform in Sacramento. A press release about those victories can be found here.