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The United States has a long history of working to break down the barriers that prevent women, people of color, and all Americans from fully participating in our democracy. Our city — as well as our country — is stronger when we create political equality for all and ensure maximum participation in the political process.


Throughout this wild and unpredictable election — and its aftermath — the Portland City Council has heard from many Portlanders urging support for a new way to ensure that future local elections are more open and accountable.

The United States has a long history of working to break down the barriers that prevent women, people of color, and all Americans from fully participating in our democracy. Our city — as well as our country — is stronger when we create political equality for all and ensure maximum participation in the political process.

The Portland City Council soon will have the opportunity to enact the Open and Accountable Elections reform, a new proposal to move us one step further along the path toward an inclusive democracy. This reform would reduce the influence of big donors by matching small donations from ordinary Portlanders.

This approach to city elections would make it easier for all Portlanders to have their voices heard and allow candidates without access to networks of wealth to run for office and win. By breaking down barriers to participation, we can ensure that the Portland City Council reflects and is accountable to every one of us.

At a public hearing in November, City Hall was filled with Portlanders, including members of the League of Women Voters of Portland, who let the City Council know that they think this is the kind of progress we need in our city.

The League of Women Voters, as an organization that promotes active and informed participation in government, has made "money in politics" reform a priority issue since 1973. At the local, state and national level, leagues throughout the country are working toward our goal of a more inclusive political process with broad-based and open elections.

In Portland, we don't shy away from breaking with the status quo when the status quo isn't working — and it's clear all across the country that the big-money status quo of our politics is a problem. We don't have to wait for Washington, D.C, to act. The Portland City Council has an opportunity to reduce the power of money and increase participation in local politics right now.

The Open and Accountable Elections approach to reform has proven to work in places such as New York City. Because of New York City's small-donor matching system, candidates are campaigning in 90 percent of neighborhoods, instead of just the wealthiest areas. Here in Portland, we can replicate this success and ensure more people have a say in our elections by encouraging candidates to campaign among voters in all parts of the city.

We encourage everyone who cares about the continued progress of our democracy to join the League of Women Voters of Portland in supporting the Open and Accountable Elections Reform.

Frances Dyke is president of the League of Women Voters of Portland. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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