Information Sheet – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: Carla G. Jankowski
With so much recent attention focused on the size of candidates’ political war chests, voters would find it refreshing to learn about four candidates in the 2nd ward who have pledged to take less money. In this press release, these candidates explain why they have chosen to partner with a new organization devoted to taking the big dollars out of campaigning and offering candidates an alternative way to reach voters– with dramatically less money.
Four 2nd ward candidates tell why they are taking a stand against big money fundraising.
Four candidates for alderman in the 2nd ward have taken the bold step to break the customary candidates’ bondage to fundraising and end big money politics in Chicago. By partnering in a pilot project with RunClean.org., a new non-partisan, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to get big money out of political elections, candidates will be able to spend more time focused on voters, instead of soliciting donors.
“So many dollars are wasted on too many mailings and attack ads,” said Steve Niketopolous, one of the four candidates. “I joined and supported RunClean because of their values being placed on the message, not the money.”
In exchange for pledging to cap their own fundraising, Niketopoulos, Bita Buenrostro, Stacey Pfingsten, and Cornell Wilson III are able to campaign with less money, offering an alternative to the usual advertizing frenzy associated with political campaigns.
“Campaigns should be about the message you are trying to send , not how many glossy mailers or TV commercials you can air. “ said Pfingsten. “With all the money we spend on campaigns, we could be building more schools, paving our roads, reopening mental health clinics.”
Wilson was also eager to participate “ because I believe in pushing ideas first. We should all be judged on the quality of our ideas and the content of our character. This race should not simply be about who can send out the most mailings and use the most robo-calls,” said Wilson.
In exchange for agreeing to cap their fundraising, information provided by the four candidates appears in the VOTERS’ GUIDE on the RunClean.org website: their biographies and their straightforward statements telling who I am, where I stand on the issues, and what I will do. There is also an ISSUES page that shows the candidates’ positions on eleven community concerns, side by side, for easy comparison by voters.
“We all want the best people to declare themselves as candidates and unfortunately, funding a campaign can present a barrier to many well-qualified people,” said Buenrostro. “Organizations such as RunClean.org help to make the ‘playing field’ a little bit more level.”
These four 2nd ward candidates believe the time to take the big money out of political elections needs to begin now. “The system is set up for the candidates with the most money to run the show, and to ensure that they will take money that will conflict with their role as a community representative,” said Niketopolous. “If the city is to move forward and away from pay to play politics, we need candidates with the integrity to not just focus on fundraising, but instead focus on the real people that make up our communities and neighborhoods.”
“The greatest problem with our current system of financing political campaigns is that we, as a nation, have allowed money to equal speech. As such, individuals with the most money too often shape our political discussion, whether at the local or federal level.” Wilson stated.
RunClean.org believes that voters in the second ward who explore the website will find invaluable information about these four candidates to help them make informed choices. RunClean.org does not support or oppose any political candidates. It is funded with private donations at no cost to the candidates. The 2nd ward provided a perfect opportunity to test out a model it hopes to replicate in other elections and communities throughout the nation. .
“We all got involved in forming this organization because we were outraged by the unprecedented funds being contributed to campaigns by a small number of donors who gain great influence on elected officials,” said Phyllis Mandler, RunClean.org, Board President.
The RunClean initiative offers a good balance that allows candidates to commit to a reasonable cap on funds. I’d like to see RunClean succeed in our 2nd ward and in Chicago. “ said Buenrostro.