Letter to Editor:
In just a few days the 2012 Primary Election Campaign will be over. All those plastic yard signs will come down, the billboards will go back to advertising cars or hospitals, and the mailman will just have bills for us instead of all those oversized color postcards. The newspapers will be lighter and the TV and radio will be back pitching drugs for all that ails us!
Thank goodness it's about over! What a way to pick our leaders! No wonder some comedian came up with the slogan, "The best government money can buy."
For all the problems, we still have the best form of government ever devised and I'm proud to be part of the process.
As a candidate for the state legislature on the Democratic ticket in the new 55th district, I'm fortunate to not have any opposition. My four friends on the Republican side are having a spirited and expensive campaign. From the number of billboards, radio spots, and mailers, I would guess they will have spent well over $150,000 among them. All this is for a job that pays around $30,000 a year.
And what will you, the voters, know about the positions of the five of us candidates on the issues? Does a yard sign tell you anything about our stand on property taxes? Can a billboard inform you about our ideas on attracting jobs to our area? A 30-second radio spot might help you remember the name of the candidate but can't really cover the debate on educational reform.
The amount of money that must be raised to make a competitive race grows with every election. The political pros tell me that with this being an open seat (no incumbent) we will need to spend $100,000 to make a real race of it this fall here in the 55th district. And the other side will do the same or more.
Does it have to be this way? Does it just come down to name recognition and how the national and state tickets run in our counties?
I hope not.
I have an idea that I'd like to propose to the winner of the republican primary next week that might just improve things for you the voters and the two of us candidates. We could hash out the details but here is the general concept:
Voluntary spending limits of approximately $1 per voter or about $25,000 per side. That will still give us enough to get our message out.
Contributions from our supporters, PACs and our respective parties would be curtailed after the limit is reached and any funds above the mutually agreed amount would be donated to our designated charities.
All other campaign activities would not be effected. We would still be going to fish fry's, county fairs, and door-to-door to meet the voters.
A series of joint meetings could be held in all the towns in the district. Organizations in towns like St. Paul and Clarksburg and the city of Greensburg here in Decatur County could host an hour-long discussion of a specific issue. This would allow us to time to really give you our thoughts on the issue and to hear your concerns and ideas. (Isn't that how democracy is supposed to work?)
What would be the benefits of such a unique campaign?
It would contribute to a better understanding of the issues by the voters.
It would help voters get to know us better.
It would give the candidates a better understanding of the views of the voters.
It would give the winning candidate more independence in his office from political pressure from big donors. By not taking big bucks from our state parties we could dare to cross the aisle and do what's right for the people, not the party or the PACs.
It could raise some much-needed funds for worthy causes in our area.
This is just a rough outline. I know there would be some details to work out, but is it too idealistic to think that voters want to be better informed about the candidates and their stances on the issues? Is it too idealistic to try to lessen the impact of big money on our political process?
I hope not.
Laura, Bob, Cindy, or Sam, let's try it!
Democratic candidate for State Rep. District 55
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