Grassroots Activists Gain Support For Public Financing In Campaigns From Assemblyman Dinowitz

Empire State Indivisible
Mar 23 · 4 min read

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 22, 2019

Contacts:

Ricky Silver | ricky@empirestateindivisible.org | 610–220–6110

David Knapp | davidmlknapp@gmail.com | 347–993–5330

Bronx, NY — Today, at his Bronx district office, grassroots organizations rallied to urge Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz to fight for the inclusion of small-donor matched, publicly funded elections in this year’s state budget.

Volunteer organizers from Northwest Bronx Indivisible, Empire State Indivisible, Bronx Progressives, Citizen Action, the Riverdale Huddle, NYCD-16 Indivisible, Bronx Climate Justice North, and the North Bronx Racial Justice handed in hundreds of letters and petitions signed by constituents and spoke about the impact that the small-donor system would have on their communities and the State’s democracy.

“We, your constituents, need our voices heard in Albany, and we thank you for supporting funding in the budget for a state-wide public matching funds program which would reduce the role of big money in NY state elections and make contributions from everyday New Yorkers more valuable,” Said David Knapp of Northwest Bronx Indivisible.“This will also allow us to have a wider choice of candidates, since it will enable individuals to run for office who have until now been stymied by not being independently wealthy nor supported by big business interests.”

“In order to make a proper dent in the issues that constituents in this district and in districts across the state are concerned with, like affordable housing, healthcare, and climate change, we must first pass a public financing system that uplifts the voices of everyday New Yorkers,” Said Ricky Silver, Co-lead organizer of Empire State Indivisible. “And we must pass it this year!”

Assemblyman Dinowitz joined the rally, committing his full backing of the Public Financing proposal being included in this year’s budget.

“The battle to change the way election campaigns are financed has been a long one,” Said Assemblyman Dinowitz. “That is why I am delighted you have come to my office to support this effort. Your support strengthens my ability to help accomplish this long sought goal. I always appreciate when allies join in my work to make our political process more democratic and to fight for the betterment of the people of the 81st assembly district and all New Yorkers.”

Organizers from the other participating organizations shared similar sentiments on the importance of public financing as a top priority for the budget:

“As grassroots Bronx organizations, North Bronx Racial Justice and Bronx Climate Justice North are big believers in making our views heard on the streets, not in hushed private meeting rooms,” Said Jennifer Scarlott from the North Bronx Racial Justice and Bronx Climate Justice North. “Part and parcel of that ‘power to the people’ approach to building our movements is small donor campaign finance in New York State. This is Democracy 101.”

“We urge the inclusion of small donor campaign finance in the New York State budget,” Said members of the Riverdale Huddle. “We are pleased that Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is hearing from us and other constituents about our confidence that appropriate legislation (including adequate funding and rules for advice and enforcement) will increase the participation of working and middle-class New Yorkers in the political process, as both candidates and contributors.”

“The core mission of NYCD16 Indivisible is to encourage and enable constituents of our district to take political action, and one of the most impactful ways of taking political action is by running for office,” Said members of NYCD16 Indivisible, “Our current campaign finance system makes running unacceptably difficult for average New Yorkers. We see campaign finance reform and public financing of a small-donor matching system as central to our mission and the best way to ensure our elected officials are beholden to the people they serve, as opposed to big corporate interests”

“Defeating the Independent Democratic Conference would not have been possible had it not been for the political courage and moral leadership of our diverse Bronx grassroots movement,” Said Samelys Lopez, Co-Coordinator, Bronx Progressives. “People are excited about the political process more than ever before and an important way of honoring this energy is making a bold commitment to take big money out of politics in Albany. Transforming campaign finance to empower everyday people to have more ownership of the political process, will send a strong message to the grassroots that our voices matter. We need to make sure that we go beyond a resolution showing support for campaign finance reform, to ensuring that Fair Elections is included in the final budget because our movement deserves nothing less.”

After years of support for public financing being stalled by the Republican controlled State Senate, organizers from across the state have been calling upon their elected officials to leverage the newly elected Democratic Majority to fulfill their promises and to pass a suite of democracy reforms known as Fair Elections. With just over one week to go before the budget is due, the onus now falls upon Governor Cuomo, Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Heastie to prioritize the passage of small-donor matched, publicly funded elections.

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