July 12, 2018
The Honorable Steve Adler and City Council Members
Austin City Hall
301 W 2nd Street
Austin, Texas, 78701
Dear Mayor Adler and City Council Members,
As organizations representing a broad base of Americans, we write to express our strong support for the Democracy Dollars proposal endorsed by the Austin Charter Review Commission that would lift up the voices of everyday people in politics and encourage fair representation for city residents.
We believe the creation of a democracy dollars program in Austin would build the growing national momentum for overhauling our broken campaign finance system to create a democracy that works for all of us.
We're thrilled that Austin is considering a policy that encourages candidates to spend time fundraising from small donors within their constituency rather than dialing for big dollars. Similar public financing programs, which have been implemented in cities and states across the country, have opened up the political process and allowed candidates from diverse backgrounds to run and win competitive campaigns for office.
We urge you to fully support this program by putting it on the ballot this fall for voters to weigh in.
The implementation of a similar program in Seattle was a success. When compared to private donors in 2017, the residents who gave their vouchers to candidates were more reflective of the city's diversity, particularly young people. Voucher users also included thousands of residents who had not given in recent elections.
By moving towards a system where Austin elections are funded by small donations from a more reflective set of the city’s residents, you can help ensure that all City residents have the opportunity to influence elections regardless of race, gender, geography, or income.
With your support, Austin could be at the forefront of a renewed American democracy that puts voters ahead of big donors, good ideas that reflect our country’s diversity over the money of special interests.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Center for Popular Democracy
Communication Workers of America
End Citizens United - Fight for Reform
Free Speech for People
Working Families Party