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Nick Fish

Commissioner, City of Portland

phone: 503-823-3589

Email: nick@portlandoregon.gov

1221 S.W. 4th, Room 240, Portland, OR 97204

Commissioner Fish's Statement on Open and Accountable Elections Proposal

December 14, 2016

I appreciate that for you, this is the issue.

And I want to thank all of public interest groups that helped to shape this proposal.

If I were king for a day, I would overturn Citizens United, shine a light on all of the dark money in our elections, and amend the constitution to limit campaign contributions.

But none of these issues will be resolved any time soon.

Today, I cannot support this proposal for a fundamental reason.

In 2010, we asked voters for permission to continue the Voter Owned Elections program.

The Yes campaign outspent the No campaign 5 to 1, and still lost.

The public was asked, the public spoke, and the program was repealed.

Under these circumstances, I’m not comfortable taking taxpayers’ money to fund my own campaign without their permission.

I offered an amendment to refer this to the voters.

It failed.

Referring big questions like this to the voters is routine, not the exception.

During my 8 years on Council, we have referred the Arts Tax, the Gas Tax, the Parks bond, the Housing bond, the Marijuana tax, and the Children’s Levy.

In each of these cases, we strengthened the cause by referring it.

I strongly believe in the concept of reform.

But I fear that by bypassing the voters, a well-intentioned proposal to strengthen public trust could, instead, end up undermining it. 

Without a referral, I can’t support this proposal.

I vote no.