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Democracy Decoded: Episode 6

Giving a Voice to All Americans

Democracy Decoded: Episode 6

Giving a Voice to All Americans

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Democracies work best when everyone can participate meaningfully, but wealthy special interests and a small number of big donors have come to dominate the funding of political campaigns - if money is speech, some people (and groups, and corporations) are speaking MUCH louder than others.

In the season finale, Simone dives into the world of public financing, examining how two cities on opposite sides of the country took important steps to provide candidates with public funds to support their election efforts. Programs like those now in use in Seattle, Washington and Washington, D.C. can reorient our elections by encouraging the best and brightest candidates to seek public office and motivating them to connect with the people they want to represent. 

Read the Full Transcript

 

Guests:

Catie Kelley is senior director of Policy & Strategic Partnerships at CLC, overseeing the organization’s policy work at the federal, state and local levels. She is leading CLC's work to address the emerging threats of election sabotage. Previously, Catie built and ran CLC's state campaign finance program. In that capacity, she worked with state and local stakeholders and policymakers to advance innovative policies designed to decrease the influence of money in the political process. She began her legal career in the Federal Election Commission's Office of General Counsel.   Read her full bio here

René LeBeau has over 20 years of elections experience at the state, county, and city level. In 2016, she joined the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission to implement and administer the first-ever Democracy Voucher Program. She is a life-long Washington resident who calls Seattle home. 

Wayne Barnett has helmed the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission for 18 years, after completing three years with the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission. He started his public service work with stints with Congressman John Dingell and Senator Kent Conrad, before studying law at New York University. 

Councilmember Christina Henderson is an at-large member of the Council of the District of Columbia. Christina’s career has been guided by the principle that one’s zip code should not determine your opportunity for success, and she is excited to work each and every day to make this principle a reality for all DC residents. As a trusted political advisor, Christina has counseled United States Senators, DC Council members, and state and local education officials on an array of domestic policy issues which deeply impacts families and children. Christina lives in the Petworth neighborhood with her husband Nu, their daughters Jordan and Cameron, and rescue dog Langston. 

Dexter Williams is a native Washingtonian who grew up in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Ward 7, where he currently lives. He organized residents, with other leaders around the city, to establish the DC Fair Elections program. Dexter works for RepresentUs, focusing on making election systems around the country better and is also the elected Ward 7 Democratic State Committeeman, where he educates voters about the democratic process and works to build interest and participation in the Democratic Party. He is currently running for DC Council At-Large. 

 

Links for Part One: 

Democracy Voucher Program (Seattle.gov) 

Seattle candidates again vie for ‘democracy vouchers’ as they pivot to November election” (The Seattle Times) 

Elster v. City of Seattle (Campaign Legal Center) 

Supreme Court Leaves Seattle’s Democracy Voucher System in Place” (Campaign Legal Center) 

 

Links for Part Two:

Fair Elections Program (dc.gov)

What We Learned from DC’s Fair Elections Program” (Campaign Legal Center) 

The Fair Elections Program is changing politics as usual in D.C.” (The Washington Post) 

 

About CLC 

Democracy Decoded is a production of Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization which advances democracy through law at the federal, state and local levels, fighting for every American’s right to responsive government and a fair opportunity to participate in and affect the democratic process. Learn more about us.