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Funding Parks and Candidates

OPB | Oct. 5, 2010 9 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 9:39 p.m.

This November, Portlanders will have a chance to decide whether or not to continue the city’s public campaign financing program, also known as “voter-owned elections.” The program provides between $150,000 and $200,000 (depending on the election) to any candidate running for city commissioner, mayor or auditor who is are able to collect five dollar donations from 1,000 people. Sitting commissioner Amanda Fritz has been called the “poster child” for publicly-funded campaigns. Fritz ran two campaigns with public dollars (she lost the first one to Dan Saltzman in the primary). She’s one of 10 candidates who have received funding from the city since the program started in 2005, approved through a city council vote.

Proponents of the measure to continue voter-owned elections point to Fritz’s success and the fact that even candidates who are not part of the program have reduced their campaign spending. Those who oppose the measure question whether it’s the best use of taxpayer money. They also bring up the scam perpetrated by an early qualifier, Emilie Boyles, who still owes the city more than $90,000.

Voters statewide will consider an unrelated ballot measure, Measure 76, that would also continue existing funding — in this case it’s lottery money that goes to parks, natural resources and wildlife. The measure moves up a vote that would have taken place when the 15 percent allotment was scheduled to sunset in 2014. Advocates say it’s necessary to vote on it now because planning for parks and natural resource-related projects occurs so far in advance. There is no organized opposition to the measure, partly because of a compromise between the Oregon Education Association and the measure’s backers that was brokered by Speaker of the House, Dave Hunt. Some voters are concerned about the possible consequences of dedicating funding in tough times.

Do you know how you will vote on these measures? If you’re still unsure, what do you want to know about them?

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