Reclaim Chicago looks to take back elections through campaign finance reform

By Michael Bacos

Reclaim Chicago and National Nurses United members are urging changes in Chicago’s campaign finance law to allow for private donations to match those of constituents.

Their members gathered at the offices of First Lutheran Church of the Trinity to kick off their Fair Elections Campaign. Volunteers called constituents of the 6th and 46th Wards to pressure their alderman to support the Fair Elections Ordinance.
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Jason Weaver of Reclaim Chicago says Ald. James Cappleman of the 46th Ward originally supported the bill, but rescinded his backing.

“We need to send a clear reminder to the aldermen that if you fall through on something you tell us you’re going to do, there’s going to be consequences,” said Weaver. “We’re gonna come and remind you of what you said to us.”

Reclaim Chicago also targeted the constituents of Ald. Rod Sawyer of the 6th Ward because they believe he should be a supporter of the bill as a member of the Progressive Caucus. However, Weaver stated that Ald. Sawyer is actively opposing the Fair Elections Ordinance.

Sawyer’s office said the alderman has no comment on the issue.

The ordinance looks to put in place a system where small donations are matched with public financing. Supporters seek a 6:1 public-to-private funding match proportion. They hope that this will allow those running for office to also take into account the needs of the everyday voter rather than big corporations, who can spend a great deal of money to influence an election.

UPDATE: After this story was published, Alderman Cappleman reached out to Reclaim Chicago to address the concerns he had about the ordinance. He wanted to make sure those seeking public funding had support within a ward and not from the outside. Those concerns are addressed in the draft of the ordinance. Ald. Cappleman and Reclaim Chicago plan to meet again, when the organization expects he will commit to support the measure.