August 1, 2022 (Long Island, NY) — Fair Elections for New York denounces the Suffolk County lawmakers’ vote that killed the county’s public campaign financing program, overriding County Executive Bellone’s veto of legislation nixing the program. This is a loss for voters in Suffolk County that robs them of a crucial way to meaningfully engage in county elections. The fight begins anew to bring this crucial reform back to the people of Suffolk County.
The public campaign finance program in Suffolk was approved in 2017. Public financing programs help participating candidates run for office and win, even in the face of big spending by corporations and special interests, by amplifying the impact of small donations from constituents. These programs have been run successfully for decades in states like Connecticut, Arizona, and Maine, as well as major cities, including New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. And the evidence from those programs is clear: the programs result in better representation and greater responsiveness to constituents’ needs.
“The Legislature gave us a false choice. We should not have to choose between democracy and basic government services. We shouldn’t have to choose between public campaign finance and public safety. The fact that that has been presented to us by this Legislature, is proof positive that we actually need more ordinary people involved in the political process, which is what this public campaign finance program intended to do. Unfortunately, when we have legislators more concerned with maintaining power than protecting their constituents’ interests, we end up with what we have today – high voter cynicism and historically low voter turnout,” said Shoshana Hershkowitz, Citizen Action Education Campaign Manager and resident of Suffolk County.
“For far too long, big-moneyed interests have dominated our elections and drowned out the voices of everyday New Yorkers. Unfortunately, the county legislature’s vote continues that tradition by overriding the most efficient way to make sure that the interests of the affluent few don’t outweigh the working class residents of Suffolk County. We’re disappointed, but not defeated. We will continue to fight for an equal voice in our democracy for all residents,” said Reggie Thedford, Deputy Political Director of Stand Up America.
“Repealing this program is not only a step backward but sends a message that special interests are more important than voters in county elections. This is a huge loss for Suffolk county voters, who the program would have benefited the most. But this is not the end — we will continue to fight for public financing of elections in Suffolk county and beyond,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause New York.
The Fair Elections for New York coalition includes over 200 organizations across the state, such as Citizen Action of New York, Stand Up America, Brennan Center for Justice, and Common Cause New York. The coalition thanks all those who advocated on behalf of this iteration of public campaign finance in Suffolk County and remains undeterred in its fight to bring constituent-powered elections to Suffolk County and beyond. “We believe the fight to protect our freedom and liberty through fair and inclusive elections continues,” a statement from the coalition said.