The Public Square

Will Stoecker on the Clean Election Program


My name is Will Stoecker, a resident of Urbana, and I would like to acquaint the listening audience with the CLEAN ELECTION PROGRAM. This plan restructures the funding of political campaigns so that the candidates are funded by a combination of a large number of small individual contributions plus public (thus taxpayers') money. A candidate has the possibility of choosing the Clean Election alternative or raising money in the conventional fashion. Those candidates choosing the Clean Election option are not permitted to accept money from corporations, unions and political action committees or use their own money. Several benefits of the system are 1) the candidate need spend less time raising money and thus has more time to concentrate on discussing issues and 2) well-funded political action groups and industry groups have less special influence on legislation.

The Clean Election Program has been adopted for state offices in the states of Maine and Arizona. In both states the number of candidates for the Senate and the House increased, and more women, minorities and newcomers have entered an election race because they did not have to have big money supporting them. Both Republican and Democratic Candidates have chosen the Clean Election plan. Winning candidates have no obligation to the moneyed interests that previously distorted the governing process. For example, Janet Napolitano who was elected governor of Arizona, contends that the Clean Election program allowed her to sign an executive order for discount prescriptions that otherwise would have been subject t intense lobbying pressure.

In Illinois there has been some progress. A bill passed the State Senate to establish the Clean Election system for the election of Supreme Court judges. So far, this measure has not gotten out of committee in the State House.

Locally, a small group that grows one by one has been meeting regularly and trying to spread the word. Several contact possibilities are: Cameron Satterthwaite, Antonia Herbstreit, Cindy Wachter, and myself, Will Stoecker. Satterthwaite is the leader and his phone number is 344-6642.