Funding Baltimore's Fair Elections Fund
On September 16, the Baltimore City Council's Judiciary Committee has its hearing on the Baltimore Fair Elections Fund, important legislation to level the playing field for candidates hoping to win local offices in Baltimore. Clean Water Action supports initiatives like this that make our democracy work and help people speak out against developers and polluting industries. Read our testimony below!
September 16, 2019
Dear Baltimore City Council Judiciary Committee,
Clean Water Action is a national environmental advocacy organization with over 11,000 members in Baltimore City. We work for swimmable, fishable waters in Maryland, for safe drinking water, and for environmentally healthy communities, and because of these commitments, we write in support of Bill #19-0403 for the establishment and administration of the Fair Election Fund.
The ordinance lays out the details and operation of the Fair Elections Fund small donor matching program and independent commission as authorized by voters in November by a 3 to 1 vote. With this Fair Elections program in place, candidates can fundraise from many small donors in Baltimore instead of courting big donors. By matching small contributions, it enables candidates to run on broad grassroots support and elevates the power of small donations from Baltimore families. This will expand who can run for office, and enable candidates seeking re-election to run a different type of campaign.
The Fair Election Fund is an important investment in our democracy, and in our city’s public health and environment. Every day, we hear from Baltimore families who care about the health of the bay and the stream next door, the litter in their neighborhood and dumping in their parks, truck exhaust, transportation options, and the safety of their drinking water. But these concerns of the average Baltimorean are different than the concerns the deep pocketed donor, who may or may not be invested in or even living in the City. Just as we invest in the systems that keep our parks, streets, and infrastructure safe, we need to invest in the Fair Elections Fund so that the concerns of Baltimoreans about their health and environment are given just as much weight as deep-pocketed donors. This will change how and where candidates for local office campaign and encourage all Baltimoreans to participate – a win for our democracy, our public health, and our environment.
With this legislation, Baltimore City will be one step closer to taking action to reform our campaign finance system, strengthen our democracy, and elevate the quality of life issues that also lead to a cleaner, greener, healthier environment. We urge you to vote favorably on Bill #19-0403.
Maryland Program Manager
Clean Water Action