New Jersey Herald

Just What Are Jersey's 'Fair And Clean Elections'?
'Not A Scheme, But A Solution'

New Jersey Herald — Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ed Selby

As a candidate for state Senate and a member of the 24th District Democratic Clean Elections Team, I would like to welcome our Republican candidates to the Fair and Clean Elections Program. While their participation would be more meaningful if they were to embrace the program with more enthusiasm, the fact that they are taking part at all helps move our state one step closer to removing the corruptive influence of big money from New Jersey's political process.

I would like to correct some misperceptions people may form about the program after reading a recent Republican fund-raising flyer. Contrary to what the flyer states, the Fair and Clean Elections Program is not a "Democrat scheme." It is the result of years of effort by a coalition of non-partisan groups, including New Jersey Citizen Action and The League of Women Voters. It has received broad support throughout the state from individuals of all political viewpoints. In the 37th District, the Republican candidates were among the first to enroll. In the 14th district, the Republican candidates have already qualified for clean elections funding.

Similar programs have been adopted in both Maine and Arizona, where they have been credited with opening the political process to those who have been traditionally shut out, while reducing political practices like "pay-to-play" that result in millions of wasted and misspent tax money.

I can understand why the local Republican Party might resent and want to discredit the program. Fair and Clean Elections reduces the power of an entrenched incumbency to out- spend, misrepresent, and crowd out other voices. It enables voters to hear about alternative and possibly better solutions to problems that challenge all of us on a daily basis. It provides voters the opportunity to make a balanced and educated choice at election time. Republicans in our two sister Clean Elections districts have already recognized these benefits. In fact. Republicans throughout the state have endorsed the program for these very reasons: to be able to make their voices heard against Democratic incumbencies. No. Clean Elections isn't a "Democrat scheme.". It cheapens and demeans the program to misrepresent it in this way. If voters deserve anything, they deserve a full and accurate portrayal of the program, and the dignity to be trusted to judge it for themselves.

It is also not true that anyone is "forced" to participate in the program, as the flyer suggests. Our local Republican candidates made an informed decision to participate in this program. They seem to be trying to have it both ways: discredit and criticize the program, suggesting that it was "forced" on them, and at the same time ask their constituents to contribute toward helping them participate.

The program is not designed to make Democrats competitive in what the Republican candidates describe as "good Republican districts like ours." It is designed to allow different ideas to compete in districts throughout the state on a more level playing field. It is designed to allow all voices – Democrat, Republican, Green, Independent, Libertarian, and others – to be heard. Most importantly, it is designed to reduce the political power of the well-to-do and well-connected, limit the political influence of corporations and political action committees – Democrat as well as Republican – and return the power and influence to individual voters.

Our local Republican candidates charge that this program is a waste of taxpayer money. I see it instead as a way to protect taxpayer money. Large donors expect large returns. These returns come out of the state budget, leaving taxpayers to pick up the bill. They flow downstream to impact our local property taxes, our medical and auto insurance rates, our services, and the quality of life in our district. Candidates elected under Clean Elections will not be obligated to some large outside donor from Denville or possibly even Delaware, their only obligation will be to the citizens of their district.

To invest in this pioneering opportunity to clean up state government makes sense. It makes sense for people who would like to see the state budget come under control and for people who believe that the power of governmment should rest in the hands of the individual citizen. It is a unique opportunity for the people of the 24th legislative district. It is an opportunity I am proud to embrace. I urge all of you to pick the Clean Elections candidate of your choice. Democratic or Republican, and send that candidate your $10. Support Clean Elections and you support our democracy.

Ed Selby of Branchville is the Democratic candidate for State Senate in the 24th district.

Copyright 2007 New Jersey Herald

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