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The proposal was introduced by Commissioner Amanda Fritz, the only member of the council elected with public funds under a previous program subsequently repeated by Portland voters. It will not be submitted to voters for approval before taking effect after the 2018 general election.


The City Council approved a public campaign financing program funded by Portland taxpayers on a split vote Wednesday.

The proposal was introduced by Commissioner Amanda Fritz, the only member of the council elected with public funds under a previous program subsequently repeated by Portland voters. It will not be submitted to voters for approval before taking effect after the 2018 general election.

The proposal passed on a 3 to 2 vote with Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick voting in support. Fritz and Hales had previously released a joint statement announcing support for "progressive" measures introduced by each of them. Fritz and Hales joined Novick to pass a business tax surcharge surcharge he introduced on companies which pay their CEOs more than 100 times the median wage of their employees last week.

Commissioners Nick Fish and Dan Saltzman voted "no." Both said it should be refered to the voters.

In a statement posted on his city website, Fish said, "In 2010, we asked voters for permission to continue the Voter Owned Elections program.

"The Yes campaign outspent the No campaign 5 to 1, and still lost.

"The public was asked, the public spoke, and the program was repealed.

"Under these circumstances, I'm not comfortable taking taxpayers' money to fund my own campaign without their permission."

The program will be administered by the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI), which Fritz oversees. She had originally proposed it be adminstered by the City Auditor's Office, which operates the city's election functions. City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero objected to it being assigned to her office, however, saying it does not have enough employees to take it on.

Cabarello's office recently released an audit which found ONI is overwhelmed by unrelated responsibilities and unable to complete important tasks.

The program could cost up to $2.4 million per year election cycle. It is voluntary for candidates and involves a complicated mix of maximum contibutions and partial city matching funds. The City Charter amendments creating the program are 10 pages long.

The previous program, which Fritz qualfied for, was repealed by a close vote after being refered to the ballot in 2010.

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