The history of campaign finance reform for San Diego has been a long and tortuous one. The initial interest in the use of public funding of San Diego elections was initiated in 2000 when a local activist, Francoise Farron called a group together to work on Clean Elections for San Diego. Clean Elections is full public funding for elections and it has been in effect in Arizona and Maine since 2000.

Under Francoise’s leadership, the Alliance for Clean Elections was formed and the Alliance attempted to get a Clean Elections initiative on the ballot in 2002 and 2003. Neither campaign was successful.

In 2005, a new group called Neighborhoods for Clean Elections initiated a long term effort to build awareness and support for clean elections. In 2016, they attempted to get a clean elections initiative on the the ballot through the petition process. But again, the attempt to get enough citizen signatures to put a clean elections initiative on the ballot proved too difficult task to accomplish.

There is a reason why few citizen initiatives are able to get on the ballot. In 2016, it would have taken over 90,000 signatures of register San Diego voters to get an initiative on the ballot. That is a tough nut to crack for any citizen campaign.

After much deliberation and introspection, those volunteers making up Neighborhoods for Clean Elections decided that campaign finance reform was too important to give up but they saw that there were a few painful lessons that they needed to heed : They needed to build a stronger coalition, do more education and outreach and raise more money in order to build a successful campaign.

In late 2016, Neighborhoods for Clean Elections initiated the formation of a San Diego city-wide coalition for campaign finance reform by enrolling Common Cause and the League of Women Voters into building a grand coalition behind public funding of elections for the City of San Diego.

These groups were in support of Fair Elections or small donor matching funds which are in effect in New Your City, Los Angeles and since November 2016, in the city of Berkeley. Neighborhoods for Clean Elections took on their goal of fair elections and changed its name to Neighborhoods for Fair Elections.

Fair Elections, or the matching of public funds with small donor contributions, allows for the empowerment of small donors and local neighborhoods at the expense of the special interests and big money contributors. We want that for the City of San Diego!

The battle for the reform and transformation of our political system with campaign finance reform goes on. Our goal now for Neighborhoods for Fair Elections, is to qualify a Fair Elections ballot measure for the City of San Diego on the next presidential election in 2020 and to win that campaign!

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