Taxpayer money might be spent to run campaigns for mayor, city council

DENVER -- Voters in Denver soon might be asked whether or not to allow taxpayers to fund campaigns for city council and mayor.

On Tuesday, the Denver City Council advanced a measure that would, if approved by voters, implement the most progressive public finance laws  in the state.

"We want to level the playing field. We know it takes some money. We want to take the need for wealth and access to wealth out of the equation for being a good candidate," said Owen Perkins, a community activist promoting the ballot measure.

Under the plan, if a candidate pledges to limit campaign donations and not receive checks from unions, special interests, or big business -- the city would make a matching donation.

The match would be nine-to-one. For instance, a $50 donation would allow for the city to write a check to the candidate for $450.

The maximum amount qualifying for nine-to-one match would be $50.

Mayoral candidates could receive up to $750,000 for an election cycle, while council members running for district positions could receive up to $125,000.

The city would set aside $2 million each year for the program.

Participation in the program would remain optional for candidates and if a candidate elects to not receive the city's money, they could fundraise from individuals at higher limits.

If passed by voters, it would not take effect until 2020, after the May 2019 mayoral election.

The city council will vote on the measure as a whole. It would then qualify for the ballot in November.

AlertMe