Wednesday will dawn a little brighter in the Northwest, thanks to a new democracy reform measure that Emerald City voters passed tonight with more than 60 percent of the first round of ballots counted. Honest Elections Seattle, I-122, will empower everyday citizens and limit the power of big money interests in city elections.
I’ve written about the measure extensively:
- How it addresses the problem that only a tiny percentage of Seattle adults—typically ones who live in white, wealthy neighborhoods full of view homes—currently give to city campaigns and thus have greater influence on city policymaking
- How it tames lobbying money and bans “pay-to-play”
- How wildly cheap it is!
- How fraud-proof it is
- How it’s legal, even under the stranglehold decisions of Citizens United and McCutcheon and
- How it works (pretty simple, really!) for voters, candidates, and administrators
In fact, I led the policy design and drafting teams that put it together, vetting it with constitutional lawyers and democracy reform superstars near and far. The thing is airtight, a model for others, and now, it’s law.
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It’s law because ordinary Seattle voters are tired of feeling like their representatives don’t hear them if they don’t have deep pockets. It’s law because candidates themselves feel they don’t get to talk with their constituents enough when they’re too busy dialing for dollars. It’s law because a small group of determined citizens got together and assembled a package of best-in-class ideas for returning power to where it belongs: regular people.
Sightline Institute dedicated resources to the fight for I-122 because we know that we can’t fix anything until we fix democracy. Big money in politics limits our success on every issue we work on, from oil trains to housing affordability to making polluters pay. It limits your influence on every issue you care about, too.
Sightline’s mission is to make the Northwest a global model of sustainability, to come up with great Cascadian solutions that others elsewhere can look to for inspiration. Honest Elections Seattle is just that, a game-changer that has already garnered national attention. Sightline is grateful to have played a part in tonight’s win, but even more, we’re thrilled to think of what progress it will unleash.