Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Grassroots Action Meeting At Library Tonight

News/commentary.
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Community organizers are gathering at Russell Library tonight, to learn tips on how to effectively campaign for change, particularly in the way local campaigns are financed. All are welcome.

WHEN: Wednesday, January 20th at 7PM
WHERE: Russell Library, Hubbard Room

The gathering is particularly focused on recent efforts to implement a small donor empowerment system in our city.

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United Decision allowed unprecedented spending by corporations in elections. Elected officials of both parties are concerned at the outsized influence on polticians that this gives corporations. Local elections have also been the focus of corporate campaign contributions, which  typically account for well over half of the gifts to Middletown's mayoral candidates (this has been true for incumbents from both major political parties).

Local officials have expressed concern that the integrity of city government decisions may be at risk if this continues. At a recent informational session, State Representative Matt Lesser supported local campaign finance reform, noting that it forced a stronger connection between politicians and the people who vote. In The Argus, he was quoted “It prevents people from losing touch with their districts, nothing keeps you in touch [more] than having to go out and talk to citizens.”

Other cities are trying to eliminate the influence of this big money by amplifying the voices of regular Americans—people who can’t donate thousands, but who want to support their candidates with small donations. Small donor empowerment incentivizes candidates to look to ordinary voters, not corporations or outside donors, for support.

Campaign finance reforms that reward candidates who forgo campaign contributions from corporations doing business with the city give residents more faith in the decisions of elected officials. People feel more in control over elections, and the city can have a democracy where elected officials are accountable, transparent, and care about what constituents want, not just about the interests of  a small handful of wealthy people and corporations.

Tonight's Russell Library event will be led by Meghan Hassett, a ConnPIRG Campaign Organizer. ConnPIRG is a statewide, citizen-based nonprofit that stands up to special interests on behalf of consumers, public health, and the democratic process. Hassett is She will show participants how to create petitions and collect signatures, generate phone calls to Common Council members, and write letters to the editor.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

What time

Meghan Hassett said...

7PM-8:30, feel free to come late/leave early as needed. Very low key!