Before I moved to Portland, I worked on a number of political campaigns all over the country, from Alabama to Wisconsin, and North Carolina to Nevada. Each of these races was dominated by candidates fighting to out-fundraise each other to win by spending the most advertising dollars. These candidates were forced to spend all their time raising money and seeking out potential donors, but never enough time talking to average voters.

I’m now proud to live in Maine, where the Clean Elections system has allowed us to practice a different kind of politics. Our state legislators win by knocking on their neighbors’ doors and having real conversations.

I’m worried that our Portland elections, especially this year’s mayoral contest, are getting away from that. If we don’t do something to change this trend, runaway raising and spending on campaigns will transform and corrupt city politics. That’s why I’m supporting the charter amendments to bring public campaign financing with sensible spending limits to our Portland municipal elections, along with expanding ranked-choice voting to City Council and school board elections.

Let’s keep our city politics about conversations between neighbors, not contests over who can raise and spend the most money.

Benjamin Gaines


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