2002-05-18 / Letters

Campaign Financing Reform

Campaign Financing Reform

Dear Editor;

Thank you for your reporting on New York State's redistricting. As a result of this undemocratic process, only 25 incumbents have been defeated in general elections in the past 20 years. That's because the Democratic Assembly decides the district lines for the Assembly and the Republican Senate decides the district lines for the Assembly and the Republican Senate decides those for the Senate. This results in ridiculous lines drawn primarily to preserve the incumbency of those doing the planning. No wonder so many citizens feel that they are not being truly represented.

Competitive elections are the life-blood of democracy. The most recent election in our city is proof that when campaigns are funded by public financing and not primarily by special interests and the wealthy, more people run for office, there are more discussions of ideas and policies, and better voter turn-out.

New York State is far behind many other states in redistricting and campaign financing procedures. It doesn't have to be that way. And it would not be that way. And it would not be with these reforms.

1. Let the public participate in redistricting. Lawmakers should publicize proposals well ahead of time so that people can have a chance to study and comment on them.

2. End the way new district lines are drawn. Have a non-partisan system. (In Iowa, for example, special civil service-like technicians who do not consider party affiliations or addresses of incumbents make redistricting proposals that are submitted to the legislature for approval. If there is no agreement, the Courts step in.)

3. Have real campaign finance reform. (In New York State elections in 2000, big money made a difference, with victors outspending their opponents two to one.)

With public campaign financing in New York State, (and a bill to have this has been passed by the Assembly, but not by the Senate), we would have, as we do in New York City, more interests in public affairs and more voters going to the polls. More importantly, our legislators would owe little to special interests or big campaign contributors. We can come closer to our country's ideals of "one man, one vote," equality, and democracy.

RUTH ZINAR


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