Current Election Process Prevents Hispanics and Other Minority Groups from Attaining Higher Office Positions According the Recent Color of Money Report Regarding Campaign Financing
January 14, 2004
Long time advocate for clean elections, Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz (D-51st) is pushing for campaign finance reform. Assemblyman Ortiz has been at the forefront of the "Clean Money, Clean Election" legislation since he first introduced it in 1997. The release of the "Color of Money" report shows that Hispanic and other minority communities are disenfranchised when the majority of campaign contributions come from wealthy neighborhoods and predominately white communities. As a result, the needs of the donors are met while the needs of low income and minority neighborhoods are overlooked and ignored especially with regards to education, healthcare and environmental issues. "Many citizens are very upset and frustrated by this system and have initiated a strong movement in support of campaign finance reform," said Ortiz. In addition to minority communities and low-income neighborhoods as a whole, individuals from those neighborhoods face many challenges when they choose to run for higher office positions. Assemblyman Ortiz has a distinct understanding of the difficulties faced by those candidates who lack the funding to mount a competitive political campaign. As a young candidate, Ortiz started his own grassroots campaign, going door to door collecting $1 from those individuals in his community to support his run for the NYS Assembly. He is working hard towards easing the process for others, especially Hispanic and other minority groups along with underrepresented Caucasians. These groups face a disadvantage under the current election process because they are unable to financially compete with candidates who are supported by personal fortunes or "Big Business" contributions. The proposed legislation would grant a fixed and equal amount of public financing to candidates who voluntarily agree to limit campaign spending and collect a minimum amount of $5 contributions from registered voters in their election district. The bill would also require more frequent reporting of campaign contributions. Assemblyman Ortiz stated that "campaign finance reform has been a real issue of concern. Many citizens feel that the current system demeans the definition of democracy and has a damaging influence on the political process." The election process not only prevents the Hispanic and other minority groups from being heard, it also prevents those in minority groups seeking to run for higher office positions. Currently, Arizona, Maine, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Vermont have implemented the "Clean Money, Clean Elections" approach into law. Now it’s time for New York to move forward with this issue.