Integrity in Our Elections Ordinance
SLO City Council Community Forum
Tuesday Jan 10, 2017
6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

This is an important event that we NEED YOU TO ATTEND!!!

Every two years the city council holds a community forum to give an opportunity to people who live, work, or just recreate in SLO to express and identify what the city’s goals should be over the next two years.

This is a town hall style meeting. The council members are there just to listen to YOU.

Along with Bold Progressives and other organizations, we will be demanding publicly funded elections through our “Integrity in Our Elections Ordinance“. We need YOU to attend and show your support. At the end of the meeting everyone will be given an opportunity to “vote” by placing stickers on the issues you feel most strongly about. The result of this meeting is what guides city council policies and spending over the next two years.

This important Community Forum will be held at the Ludwick Community Center starting at 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Please wear your Citizens Congress shirts, your Russell Houdin designed “free speech” t-shirts, buy one at the door (it’s a tax deductible donation), or wear a black t-shirt.

We will be re-submitting our ordinance in February and we need to show community support!

This past Saturday, 723 people showed up to vote for Assembly delegates to the Democratic party. That’s a phenomenal turnout given that most years 30 – 50 turn out to vote. There is a wave of activism building in our community. Come join us and push back on Citizens United!



WIlliam Ostrander Director – Citizens Congress
P.O. Box 1105 San Luis Obispo, CA 93406

San Luis Obispo Democracy Voucher Ordinance

“We must remove the corrupting influence of private money
from the election of our public officials” – William Ostrander, Citizens Congress

The Problem: 84% of Americans agree that money has corrupted our politics. Wealthy donors and money from out of the area is playing an ever greater role in deciding election outcomes. In our recent congressional election, small donations accounted for only 2% of one candidate’s contributions, and 5% for the other candidate. 45% of all the money spent on the Congressional race came from out of the district. In local races, begging for campaign contributions from friends and family for the thousands of dollars needed for a campaign discourages citizens from taking part in our governance. As a result, about 30 families support the large majority of candidates who run for city council. Politics has become a question of fundraising rather than a competition of ideas.

The Solution: We urge the City Council to adopt the Integrity in Our Elections Ordinance.

Click to download and read ordinance (PDF)
Click to download and read ordinance (PDF)

The ordinance addresses the three issues raised above:

Public financing of campaigns using “Democracy Vouchers”. Democracy Vouchers allow all voters to exercise their free speech rights and support candidates regardless of their economic class. Public financing of campaigns removes the corruptive potential of private money and helps the candidate by removing the “appearance of corruption”. It enables citizens of all economic levels to participate in our governance and allows candidates to be chosen for their ideas rather than their fundraising skills.

Full disclosure of people or organizations privately spending more than $500 outside of candidate campaigns. The City Clerk will post this donor information to inform the public about who is spending money outside of candidate campaigns. In conjunction with requirements to disclose private campaign donors, this helps us to understand who is trying to influence our elections.

Ethics commission – the proposed ordinance empowers volunteer citizens to monitor spending and review allegations of campaign finance violations.


What are “democracy vouchers”?
A type of tax rebate allowing you to support a candidate(s) campaign through the use of a voucher for $20 that can only be redeemed through candidate campaign accounts. All transactions are public.

Who pays for these vouchers?
Funding comes from the city’s general fund.

How much will this cost?
Optimistic estimates for use of the vouchers is about 25% of registered voters (7250 +/-) or about $145,000 for the vouchers themselves. Costs to the city for implementation are still being calculated.

Can a candidate still raise their own money?
The public financing system is voluntary, but if a candidate chooses the public system, they may NOT raise private funds.

Elections must depend upon the Voters, not the Funders.

Integrity in our Elections Ordinance

Elections must depend upon the Voters, not the Funders.

Publicly funded elections have been around for a long time and operate in more than 28 states and almost all other democratic countries. The Supreme Court supports public financing as long as the program is voluntary – candidates can elect to stick with private financing if they choose. Experiences in other cities and states show that 83% of candidates choose the public financing system. Here’s how it works:

• Democracy Vouchers: a $20 Democracy Voucher, much like a gift card, is sent to registered voters in the city of SLO on or about July 1st, the filing date for candidates. That card can be “swiped” during a face-to-face interaction between a voter and a candidate or at a campaign event for the mayoral or city council elections. Voters have the freedom to divide the $20 among as many candidates as they wish. The city reimburses candidates for incurred campaign expenses up to the amount assigned to that candidate by voters.

• Disclosure: Political speech is protected, but the ordinance requires electronic disclosure to the City Clerk’s office of any campaign-related expenditure over $500 from individuals or organizations within 24 hours. Anonymous actors, often from out of the area, wishing to influence our elections, must report their spending, divulging who they are so we may consider their motives.

• Citizens Ethics Panel: The ordinance empowers a citizen’s panel to receive, evaluate and report alleged violations to the City Attorney’s office within 30 days.

Funding for the program, should come from the city’s general fund and is estimated to be less than one half of one percent of the city’s overall budget during an election cycle. Insuring integrity in our democracy is no different than maintaining the roads and sidewalks of our community and this program encourages greater participation from citizens.

Citizens Congress partnered with the Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C. and other election law experts in drafting this ordinance specifically to the needs of San Luis Obispo. Our ordinance is presently unique, but could easily be a model for cities all across America. Both major cities like L.A. and New York and small cities like Santa Fe, New Mexico and Tallahassee, Florida have public financing. Seattle, Washington recently approved a similar campaign financing initiative by 60% of the vote.

Click this link to read the ordinance proposal and then email your support to the City Council at:

The City Council will be listening to the concerns of citizens at their goal setting hearing in January of 2017. We urge you to show your support for this ordinance at this meeting.

San Luis Obispo would be the first in the nation to adopt our unique, comprehensive Democracy Voucher program. Reform always starts at the local level. We have the chance to move campaign reform forward to the county, state, and even nationally by enacting it locally. Just as we led the way with indoor smoking bans and farmers markets, we could be a national leader in the movement to strengthen our democracy.

Elections must depend upon the Voters, not the Funders.

Click to download and read ordinance (PDF)

Click to download and read ordinance (PDF)