“Are you sick of the role big money has in politics?” That’s the question local organizers are asking about potential campaign finance reform in Evanston. They have invited all Evanston residents, as well as local and state officials, to a rally and free luncheon that will take place at 10 a.m. on April 7 at Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave.
The event will be hosted by Common Cause Illinois and the Evanston Collective.
Daniel Biss, Illinois State Senator and former Illinois gubernatorial candidate, will be the keynote speaker. He will be joined by Litesa Wallace, State Representative for the 67th District; Mary Rita Luecke, attorney and a recent candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives; among others who will speak.
Ibie Hart, an organizer with Common Cause Illinois, said that while many citizens are tired of big money in elections and corruption in government, they do not always know what to do about it.
“We are a country, a city – and Evanstonians – that believe people should have the power. But, that’s not the system we live under. Take the time to take the necessary steps so that we can live under an electoral system that represents our values.”
Saturday’s event will also include a call to action, asking those in attendance to sign up for canvassing and phone-banking work.
“We talk about addressing this a lot, but we never have a ground game around this,” Ms. Hart said. “What works best for community? Do you want to be a part of it – and have your voice be heard? … Do you want this to be only a retroactive thing when corruption occurs, or also a progressive action?”
While Evanston would be the first city in the Midwest to adopt campaign finance reform, there are others across the U.S. that have already done so. Ms. Hart said New York City, which established a campaign finance board in 1988, and has enacted extensive legislation in the years following, has seen big results. She said voter turnout has grown significantly, including among people of color.
A national model for other cities and states, New York City has provided hundreds of candidates with more than $182 million in public funds through its small-dollar matching funds program. The New York City Campaign Finance Board website says that “By increasing the value of small-dollar contributions, the program reduces the possibility and perception of corruption from large contributions and unlimited campaign spending, and encourages citizens from all walks of life to run for office.”
“Equitable representation and participation are both critical,” said Ms. Hart. “When people feel like they have a voice, and that their money [campaign donations] matters, they will follow the candidate, and vote.”
Common Cause is a national nonpartisan organization that focuses on government accountability, equal rights and representation, and empowering people so that they are part of the political process. The Evanston Collective organizes, supports and empowers African American families and ideas in Evanston.