Everyone's Voice should be heard
Our government works best when every person has a seat at the table and a say in the community.
We need to build an inclusive democracy where everyone participates, every vote is counted, and everyone’s voice is heard--where people from all walks of life can run for and win office, not just the wealthy and well-connected.
Portland's democracy is out of balance
But in Portland, there have been just two people of color and seven women on the City Council—ever. Only two commissioners ever have come from east of 47th avenue. Yet half of Portland are women, one out of three residents are people of color and six out of ten live east of 47th.
We’re strongest when our elected city council reflects the full range of talent and lived experience that Portland has to offer.
People from every single neighborhood in Portland should have an equal voice in elections and an equal chance to run, but that’s not happening. There are real barriers to running and we are all paying the price.
Big Money is a barrier
The reform we need
We can put the voters front and center in our democracy
The city council is considering a set of reforms to make our government more open and accountable to Portland residents. The centerpiece is a powerful and proven public matching program that multiplies small donations from voters to ensure that all donors matter in elections. This set of reforms has worked across the country, and has been perfected in places like New York City, Montgomery County Maryland, Albuquerque, and Maine. When candidates are empowered to listen to everyone they represent, not just wealthy donors, everybody wins. And it’s accomplished all of this with a minimum investment and robust safeguards.
Here’s how it works: candidates who want to participate agree to cap donations to their campaign at $250, and get them from only from people who live in our city. Since they aren’t taking money from big donors, small donations up to $50 will be matched six-to-one.
What does this program mean?
- It treats everyone like a big donor, so even small donations have a big impact. The senior on a fixed income will see her $5 donation become a $35 donation. The restaurant worker can turn her $25 donation have $175 of impact.
- It means fewer barriers to running for office. Portlanders of any background and from any neighborhood can serve our community, whether or not they have a network of wealthy friends or family to bankroll their campaigns.
- It means more and different voices are heard. Whether you’re a candidate or a donor, we get to hear perspectives from more women, more people of color, more young people, more people from immigrant communities engaging with their elected officials.
The reform also includes stronger transparency rules to shine a light on campaign cash, and an oversight commission to make sure that the measure responds to our needs, is enforced fairly, and is successful.
Our democracy succeeds only if our voices are heard and our communities are represented. We need to reform Portland's elections, so that we can create a city that truly works for all. Tell the city council that you want an open and accountable democracy today.