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Friday, May 17, 2013

Are Voter Owned Elections Mounting a Comeback?

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Fri, May 17, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Portland's voter owned elections died a convincing death saw narrow defeat at the hands of the people in 2010, when Portlanders roundly rejected the system by a slim margin. But there are tenuous signs of life in the old girl yet.

This sign was posted on the ground floor of the Board of Trade Building (310 SW 4th) this afternoon.

The meeting was closed off to the public, but revolved around how supporters might revive publicly financed elections, an attendee said. As killed by voters, the system allowed candidates for city council and mayor to gather 1,000-1,500 $5 contributions to receive $150,000 in public funding from the city.

The process was enacted in 2005, and has a bit of a spotty past. Former council candidate Emilie Boyles ran off with the public money in 2006, for example. But City Commissioner Amanda Fritz won election to council her first time around using public funds. It's been a pet issue of hers ever since.

Fritz' office confirmed she attended today's meeting, calling it a "brainstorming session." The meeting was arranged by Common Cause Oregon.

Reviving voter owned elections, by the way, has been oft-discussed since its demise. Whether this nascent push has legs remains to be seen.

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