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Grassroots group is looking to change the way elections are financed in Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor City Hall
Heritage Media
Ann Arbor City Hall

Grassroots organizers are looking to change the way elections are financed in Ann Arbor.

Organizers with the “Coalition for Ann Arbor’s Future” are collecting signatures that would allow voters to decide if the city should establish a “Fair Elections Fund”.

The fund would use three-tenths of one percent of the city's general fund to match small donations (less than $50) made to local campaigns. The charter amendment is modeled off of similar reforms passed in Denver, Seattle, Portland, Oregon, and Maine.

John Godfrey is a member of the coalition, which is also gathering signatures to put an item establishing nonpartisan elections on the November ballot. He says the group wants to lower the overall cost of running a campaign.

“Create sufficient funding for someone who does not have access to deep pockets and PAC money, to be able to run a very reasonable campaign.”

Godfrey says, even if the item is approved by voters, participation would still be voluntary. Candidates would still be able to fund campaigns through PACs and large donations by excluding themselves from the city funding.

“The agreement that the candidate would make would be that they would agree not to take any money from PACs and from big donors. Candidates can still accept larger donations, larger than $50, but these would not be matched.”

To access the matching funding, candidates would also have to limit donations from individuals to no more than $300 for council candidates and $600 for mayoral candidates.

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Taylor Bowie was a WEMU reporter from October 2023 to June 2024.
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