Public Funding



In the summer of 2019, we collected signatures for a petition to create funding for clean elections in Portland. 

Rather than putting the issue to voters directly, the city choose to put a charter commission on the ballot. We are still fighting in the state Supreme Court to vindicate our right to the charter amendment process, but meanwhile, a new opportunity for reform is in front of us.



On July 14th, 2020 Portlanders voted in favor to change the Charter Commission. Here's why this is significant. 

The overwhelming success of Question A is due to the efforts of Black Lives Matter Portland, Southern Maine Workers Center, Southern Maine DSA, ACLU Maine, and many other volunteers. 

What started as a quest for public funding to make our elections more accessible has grown into a larger movement. We have people backing government change more than ever. 



On June 8th, 2021, the Charter Commission election, Portland voters elected 9 candidates, all who had previously indicated support for municipal Clean Elections. For the second time, Portland voters have indicated their support for Clean Elections in the city. While the Charter Commission will take up a number of important structural questions, the charter revision process would not be happening at this time, except for the broad support for the Clean Elections charter amendment.

Going forward, we will continue to establish clean elections in Portland. But we will also support the work of our community members and partners. We must hold our government accountable. We can create a city that's more inclusive and accessible to those traditionally left out. We will work to give a voice to the vulnerable. 

Fair Elections Portland Files Suit Against the City of Portland

NOVEMBER 17, 2021

Fair Elections Portland (FEP) and 15 Portland voters filed suit against the City of Portland over the City’s continued refusal to place a ballot question before voters.

The ballot question seeks to allow Portland Voters a chance to vote on a charter amendment to create a Clean Elections system for Mayor, City Council, and School Board races.

“The people of Portland deserve the chance to vote on this measure. They followed all the legal requirements and there is tremendous public support for this measure,” said FEP attorney John Brautigam. “We are going back to court to protect their right, and that of others who care about democracy. We refuse to let the City’s obstruction be the last word.” Read more here.


About Public Campaign Funding

Everyone should be represented in our democracy - not just the wealthy. Ordinary people can’t write massive campaign checks or hire high-priced lobbyists that tilt the playing field in their favor at everyone else’s expense.

We need to keep the power of our government where it belongs - in the hands of the people. When politicians depend on contributions from large corporations, lobbyists, and special interest groups, they’re the ones holding all the power. We need a strong clean elections policy if we want our city government to work on solutions for us, instead of helping out rich corporations and their lobbyists.

We deserve politicians who are accountable to us. By allowing candidates in Portland to run for local office without having to depend on outside sources, we can keep our representatives honest and keep control of elections in the hands of the voters.

Public Funding Petition

PETITION TO THE CITY COUNCIL TO AMEND THE PORTLAND CITY CHARTER To Allow Public Funding for City Council, School Board, and Mayor

Adding a New Section

Section 12. Public Financing of Municipal Elections

The city council shall establish and fund a mechanism providing public campaign funds to qualified candidates for mayor, city council, and school board. The mechanism must provide sufficient funds to allow candidates who meet qualifying criteria to conduct competitive campaigns, must be voluntary, must limit the amount of private funds a candidate may raise, must only be available to candidates who demonstrate public support, and must be limited to candidates who enter into a binding agreement not to accept private contributions other than those allowed by the public funding program. The mechanism must be available by the 2021 municipal elections.

What does this mean? See our explainer here.