Politicians should be accountable to the people who elect them, not to corporations and lobbyists who finance their campaigns. Fair Elections is a statewide effort to pass comprehensive campaign finance reform built around a core system of public financing of elections. Common Cause has been instrumental in advocating for the Suffolk County Legislature to pass a small donor matching fund system for county elections.
Suffolk County Fair Elections Bill
In December 2017, Common Cause New York, Long Island Progressive Coalition, Long Island Leagues of Women Voters and County Representatives Calarco, Hahn and Spencer scored a big victory for Suffolk County voters when Suffolk County Legislators voted 11–7 to set up a Fair Elections small donor matching system for election campaigns in Suffolk County (Intro. Res. No. 1975, Calarco).
Under this 4:1 matching program, candidates would have to raise a minimum of $5,000 from 30 individual donors who live in the candidate’s district up to a maximum of $250 per donation to receive matching funds. County Executive candidates would need to raise a minimum of $25,000 from 150 donors up to a maximum of $250 per donation.
The Fair Elections bill ensures that special interests cannot gain a special influence in elections, and helps county legislators focus on the needs of their constituents rather than the constant need to raise campaign contributions.
Now, we need to work to be sure that the system is implemented effectively.