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Strengthening Democracy in Local Government Through Public Financing

Campaign Legal Center hosted a conversation with both activists and leaders who have helped to implement public financing programs as well as political candidates who have benefited from them.

A row of people's hands holding up money against a green background

Democracies work best when everyone can participate meaningfully and have their voices heard. This includes the way that we fund our elections. Municipalities that implement public financing of campaigns tend to see higher participation in campaigns and elections across demographics as well as an increase in candidate diversity. Where these systems are in place, we see more power for the voices of everyday Americans and less influence for wealthy special interests. 

Recent years have seen multiple cities and municipalities across the country adopt public financing systems, which provide candidates for elected office with public funds to support their campaigns and empower everyday voters to contribute impactfully. Among their many benefits, these programs encourage a wider, more diverse array of political candidates that are more reflective of the constituents they seek to represent while also broadening and diversifying citizen engagement in the electoral process. 

Local government heavily impacts our day-to-day lives, and bringing more citizens into the political process through public financing programs can help ensure local government is representative and accountable. The panel examined how public financing helps create a more equitable and responsive government and discussed how different jurisdictions may approach public financing to best fit the needs of their elections.

Event Video




Patrick Llewellyn

Campaign Legal Center
Director, State Campaign Finance


Aaron McKean

Campaign Legal Center
Senior Legal Counsel, Campaign Finance


Zachary Parker

D.C. Councilmember


Emily Scarr