What does Question 3 do?
Question 3 would establish a City of Portland Clean Election Fund to provide public campaign funds to qualified candidates for elected municipal offices, beginning in FY 2023-2024. Candidate participation would be voluntary. The city council would an independent allocation from the city’s budget each year to sustain the Clean Election Fund and enact ordinances directing that the Clean Election Fund must:
- Limit the amount of funds a participating candidate may raise;
- Be limited to candidates who meet certain requirements, such as demonstrated public support and participation in a city-sponsored forum or voter education event;
- Require that all unused funds be returned to the Clean Election Fund.
In addition to establishing the Clean Election Fund, this question:
- Prohibits corporate contributions to any candidate for municipal office;
- Prohibits ballot question contributions or expenditures from any entity that is substantially under foreign influence;
- Requires that all contributions to campaigns be reported to the city clerk and that the city clerk create a searchable online database of information contained in filed registrations and campaign finance reports.
Why do we need Clean Elections in Portland?
Our government works best when everyone participates and everyone’s voice is heard. However, in the current, out-of-balance system, wealthy special interests and big-money donors hold too much power, while candidates have to spend too much time raising money, rather than talking with voters and connecting with the community. That’s why Portlanders of every background and political persuasion are coming together to vote “Yes on 3 for Clean Elections” and expand Maine’s popular and successful Clean Elections program to include candidates for local office.
In recent years, an increasing amount of the money raised by municipal candidates has come from special interest, and out-of-state donors (see the data here). Municipal candidates have also started to raise more money than ever before. Some at-large city council candidates have raised between $40-50,000 in the last couple of years and the top fundraising mayoral candidates have raised amounts up to and past $100,000. Clean Elections ensures that candidates are not affected by large donations and special interests, while also including an overall spending limit. It would also make it easier for people from all sorts of backgrounds and without ties to wealthy donor networks to run for office.
Who supports Question 3?
In 2019, more than 6,800 Portland voters signed petitions to qualify Clean Elections for the ballot - more signatures than any campaign has ever collected in Portland! Though the city council decided to call for a charter commission rather than place the question on the ballot, many emphasized at the time that they supported Clean Elections. The Charter Commission unanimously recommended the current Question 3 for adoption.
Question 3 has been endorsed by Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, The League of Women Voters of Maine, and many current and former elected officials.
Don’t we already have Clean Elections in Maine?
Yes! We have Clean Elections at the state level for legislature and governor. Voting Yes on Question 3 will add Clean Elections for city council, school board and mayor.
How does Clean Elections work?
Here’s how it works at the state level in Maine. Candidates must qualify by demonstrating community support by collecting a minimum number of $5 donations from voters in their district. Once qualified, the candidate receives a set amount of Clean Elections funds, and can qualify for additional funds (up to a cap) by collecting more $5 donations. After a candidate begins to receive Clean Election funds from the State, they cannot accept private contributions. Clean Elections keeps our elected officials accountable to voters, not donors. You can watch this webinar to learn more about the policies currently in place in Maine, New York City and Seattle.