A group of residents has submitted a petition that will appear on the Cambridge City Council’s August 7 agenda to ask that a non-binding resolution be placed on the November 2017 ballot to ask voters if they would support public financing for municipal elections. I do.
The petitioners assert that special interest money is tainting the democratic process locally as is it nationally, eroding public confidence and reducing civic engagement. I agree. When I ran for the first time in 2015 I vowed not to accept donations from real estate developers and special interests including labor unions. I was on the only non-incumbent elected in 2015 in a field of 23 candidates.
The petitioners also assert that candidates for local office are spending too much money on their campaigns and that fundraising is consuming too much time — time that would be better spent advancing policy and helping constituents. I agree. With every council seat up for re-election every two years fundraising can be hard to escape. I spent only $49.5K in 2015, well below the average of over $70K. This was the second lowest amount of any winning candidate. I also had the highest percentage of donations from Cambridge residents (84%).
I will vote yes to accept the petition and to place it on the November ballot. The hard work will be deciding what type of public financing system to implement, but that will be for the next Council to debate and vote on. With three incumbents not running (David Maher, Nadeem Mazen and Leland Cheung), we know there will be at least three new councillors next term. If you want to see public financing advance next term, then you should vote for candidates who support it. My support all along for public financing is another reason to make sure I am re-elected by giving me your #1 vote on November 7th.
NOTE: All campaign donations and expenses are searchable on the OCPF website. If you search Tim Toomey’s recent donations you will see that on July 14th he reported $13,000 (13 donations at the annual individual maximum of $1,000 each) from people affiliated with Dunkin Donuts franchises. All of these donors live outside Cambridge.