From today's Oregonian, commenting on Erik Sten's impending departure from the Portland City Council and his contributions to our city:
"Publicly financed elections, on the other hand, is a non-solution to what is, in Portland at least, a non-problem. Portland has budgeted $1.8 million for candidates to spend on their 2008 election campaigns.
In the disastrous 2006 go-round of the system, several candidates were accused of improprieties, one still owes the city more than $100,000 in misspent funds and one man was sentenced to jail for cheating on candidate nominating petitions. Worst of all, though, Portland's taxpayers now are forced to pay for the campaigns of people they would never otherwise support."
Obviously, to the well-connected people on the Editorial Board, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to seek to serve Portlanders by being elected to the City Council is a "non-problem". I am here to tell you that it is a problem.
"Several candidates" were accused? One was found guilty. Was it ten of us who participated flawlessly? I forget the number, because the media harped on the problems, not on the successes. But you know what? Portlanders remember good deeds. I am hugely encouraged by the responses of friends I didn't know I had, as I collected donations to qualify for Public Campaign Financing again. People care. Portlanders get it. We know the political system with traditional fundraising is broken, and we are working with Public Campaign Financing to fix it.
"Forced to pay"? Each taxpayer contributes less than the cost of a cup of coffee. Regular coffee, not expensive stuff. Too bad the Oregonian's editorial board doesn't believe giving hardworking citizens a chance to affect our future is worth the investment.