Unfortunately, money, not political support, can determine who runs for office. Oftentimes potential candidates are unable to run because they cannot collect the requisite financial support to run a viable campaign. This not only deprives the public of the full range of public debate, it also prevents members of historically marginalized communities from participating in the political process.
In Montgomery County, there is the first real opportunity to pass public funding reform in Maryland. A bill is being considered to establish a system of public financing for candidates for County Executive and County Council. Such a measure would improve the accountability of county officials to their constituents, as well as relieve candidates and elected officials from the grip of high-dollar contributors. This would allow candidates to focus less on fundraising and more on drawing actual political support from more voters, no matter what level they can donate to a campaign.
Despite the positive effects this bill would have, it may be in jeopardy. In a Washington Post story titled, "Uncertain future for bill that would offer public financing in Montgomery county elections," Bill Turque explains the obstacles that Bill 16-14 faces. The ACLU of Maryland urges Montgomery County Council members to overcome these obstacles and to pass this strong public financing measure.
Tell your Montgomery County Council members to expand the resources available for political advocacy and to support public campaign financing.