FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, November 8
Oakland City Council Passes Urgently-Needed Public Financing Reform
Tuesday night, the Oakland City Council took important steps forward to phase in the Democracy Dollars program, the voter-approved, public campaign financing system that will make it possible for all Oaklanders to support the candidates who best represent them. Last night, the city council passed legislation that would reinstate Oakland’s limited public financing program for the 2024 election as an interim measure while the Democracy Dollars program prepares to fully launch in 2026.
Joint statement from Oakland City Council President Nikki Bas and Oakland Rising Political Director Pecolia Manigo:
“For decades, Oakland’s elections have been dominated by campaign donations from the wealthiest and most well-connected residents in, and outside of, our city. This disproportionate influence from wealthy Oaklanders leaves many working-class and poor Oaklanders out of our political system. Whether it’s community safety, affordable housing, quality schools, or any other issues Oaklanders face – a robust, representative democracy is our best chance at ensuring elected officials and decision makers are accountable to our communities.
Last November, Oakland voters overwhelmingly supported Measure W, which includes a transformative public financing system that would empower everyday citizens to make their voices heard in the electoral process. This new public financing system, known as Democracy Dollars, will create a more equitable and accountable system of government by providing every eligible Oakland resident vouchers to use toward supporting the candidate/s of their choice in school board and City official elections. In tandem with other reform measures, such as those that have already been enacted to keep our local government more transparent, Democracy Dollars will give Oaklanders more power over the decisions that impact our communities.
During this 2023-2025 Budget Cycle, the City of Oakland was faced with a massive budget deficit, pushing the Democracy Dollars implementation to 2026. Despite this temporary setback, the city council approved funding to begin setting up the infrastructure needed to implement Democracy Dollars ahead of the 2026 election. Additionally, discretionary funds were allocated for the Oakland Public Ethics Commission to ensure a modified public financing program to be enacted in 2024. An effective and accountable local government demands a democracy that works for all Oaklanders, not just the wealthy. Funding for Democracy Dollars will build the foundation for a more inclusive Oakland, where the policies being passed reflect the true needs and desires of our communities. Investing in the Democracy Dollars program is an investment in the people of Oakland.
It is imperative that the City Council upholds the will of the voters which is why we approved the reimplantation of its limited public financing program. We look forward to working alongside Mayor Thao and other members of the Council to ensure Democracy Dollars is fully funded for the 2026 election and all those that come after.”
Council President Nikki Bas was a cosponsor of Measure W and is the Oakland City Council President, representing District 2 of Oakland.
Pecolia Manigo is the Political Director for Oakland Rising, a collaborative of racial, economic, and environmental justice organizations in Oakland.