Yes on X1: Introduce public campaign financing

Shirley Sun/Staff

Welcome to Berkeley, where we have our very own campaign financing problems. Voting yes on X1 would pave the way for a more equitable, fair and honest campaign financing system in Berkeley elections.

A considerable amount of Berkeley campaign money comes from outside the city. Moreover, according to city officials, roughly 350 families provide more than 50 percent of all the campaign money that enters our elections — in a city of more than 100,000 people.

Measure X1 would provide public campaign financing. Essentially, candidates could elect to receive only small donations of $50 or less. For every donation they receive, the city would provide six times the amount to that candidate’s campaign. To keep the multiplier in check, the measure caps city investment in campaigns at $120,000.

This would incentivize the rejection of PAC money, meaning elected officials in Berkeley would be more beholden to the people than to monied interests.

While approving this measure does place somewhat of a financial burden on the city — the city manager expects the measure to cost roughly $2 million every four years — it would level the playing field in Berkeley elections. Traditionally underfunded candidates — those who aren’t, for example, backed by big developer coalitions — could compete financially with those who are.

This is an important and reasonable use of Berkeley’s money.

It means taking big business out of Berkeley’s political process. It means making elections of the people, for the people, by the people.

Vote yes on X1 to ensure that anybody running for office with a good idea and some popular support has a fair chance in the race.

Endorsements represent the majority opinion of the Senior Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.