Victory for Democracy: D.C. Council Approves Fair Elections Act
After Landmark Vote, Groups Delivered Petitions to Mayor Urging Her to Support Public Funding of Elections
Feb. 6th, WASHINGTON, D.C. – By approving the Fair Elections Act of 2017, the D.C. Council today voted to strengthen local democracy, empower small donors and break down barriers to running for office.
After the vote, the DC Fair Elections Coalition – comprising dozens of local community organizations, racial and economic justice groups, unions, and other organizations – delivered 5,000 petitions from D.C. residents to the office of Mayor Muriel Bowser with signatures from voters across the District representing the breadth and depth of support for the legislation. The coalition also delivered a letter signed by more than 80 community leaders from all eight Wards, and a sign-on letter signed by more than 70 community groups, ANCs, civic associations, and others. DC Working Families has played a lead role in the coalition since its founding in 2015.
“This is a victory for everyone who wants to see D.C.’s democracy become more equitable and inclusive,” said Valerie Ervin, regional director of the Working Families Organization. “Now, it’s up to the Council and the Mayor to fund this program and empower their constituents.”
The Fair Elections Act establishes a voluntary matching-funds program for candidates running for mayor, attorney general, D.C. Council or the D.C. State Board of Education. Successful programs have been enacted in Montgomery and Howard counties in Maryland and are already in place in New York, Connecticut, Seattle, and other states and cities.
The program helps balance the scales of democracy by amplifying the voices of every day D.C. residents in our elections, especially low-income residents and people of color. It also encourages more participation in D.C. elections, encourages candidates to build support with constituents and empowers D.C. residents to run for office by breaking down financial barriers.
“With today’s vote, Wards 7 and 8 will finally have a seat at the table after years of being under the radar,” said Dexter Williams, Ward 7 DC Fair Elections Chair. “Fair Elections impacts our communities the most, and this is a first step in making sure issues like high unemployment, public health, education, and career preparation are at the forefront of the city’s agenda.”
Kesh Ladduwahetty, Chair of DC for Democracy said, “We have been working towards this day for four long years. Today, we celebrate the passage of the Fair Elections Act as a major step towards a more genuine, small-donor democracy based on the power of people, rather than the power of money.”
Find out more at www.dcfairelections.org