A proposal up for vote this Tuesday could transform political fundraising in staunchly liberal Seattle. Initiative 122 would provide every registered voter with four “Democracy Vouchers” per citywide election. Each voucher would be worth $25, for a total of $100 that voters could distribute among their preferred candidates as campaign donations. The system would be funded by a 10-year, $30 million rise in property taxes.
Supporters hope the measure will turn middle-class and lower-income voters into a vital fundraising source, forcing candidates to spend more time addressing their concerns instead of raising campaign funds from wealthier benefactors.
Maine is also considering a ballot measure that would attempt to reform the state’s public campaign funding system by requiring additional disclosures from outside groups that campaign in political races.
Seattle’s only socialist elected official faces a tough re-election race
Two years ago, economist Kshama Sawant made national headlines when she became the first declared socialist in at least a century to be elected to Seattle’s city council. Now she’s fighting to make sure she doesn’t become America’s most famous living one-term socialist politician.
Sawant faces a tough challenger in the form of Pamela Banks, the president of Seattle’s local branch of the Urban League, a national civil rights group. Two-thirds of Sawant’s colleagues on the city council have endorsed Banks, a Democrat.
Houston looks to replace its first openly gay mayor
America’s fourth-most populous city faces an open field in this year’s mayoral race, as current Mayor Annise Parker has reached her term limit. Parker’s six-year tenure has been historic; she is the first openly gay mayor in the city’s history, making Houston the largest U.S. city to have an openly gay mayor.
Houston’s mayoral races are nonpartisan, which means multiple candidates from each party are permitted to run during the general election. In a crowded field, local publication Texas Monthly identifies six major candidates. Whoever wins will inherit a major unfunded pension obligation, one of the key issues in the race.
Houston voters face a litmus test on transgender rights
As the city deliberates over who will replace her, it will also weigh a referendum to repeal the so-called "bathroom ordinance," which bans discrimination across several categories, including gender identity, in access to public bathrooms and other facilities.
Ohio could reform its process for drawing legislative districts
Ohio is one of America’s few genuinely purple states, and that makes it a perpetual campaign battleground between Democrats and Republicans. That battle often spills beyond particular elections to encompass debates over how elections should be conducted in the first place.
Activists are now pushing a measure they hope will guarantee fairer elections for the state legislature. Supporters of Issue 1 contend that the current rules governing the Ohio Apportionment Board — the body that draws state legislature districts every decade — make it too easy for one party to dominate the process and gerrymander the district map to ensure legislative majorities. The proposed reforms would expand membership on the board (which would be renamed the Ohio Redistricting Commission), and require assent from members of the minority party before a new district map can be approved.
San Francisco looks to restrict Airbnb-style rentals