Pecolia Manigo, policy director for the political advocacy group Oakland Rising, said she learned firsthand the potential benefits of a strong public campaign financing option when she ran for a seat on the Oakland School Board last year. Manigo said she spoke with over 3,000 people during her campaign and discovered many people couldn’t afford to make political donations.

“To have a viable City Council campaign, we’re talking about thousands of dollars just to do simple things like send a mailer to voters in the district or being able to pay for the filing fees,” Manigo said. “Those are things the average individual does not have, so I think public financing in Oakland is important.”

Manigo said a robust public financing program like Democracy Dollars could create a more equitable democracy in Oakland. It could also potentially disrupt Oakland’s political status quo by giving more voters a reason to believe that their voices matter.   

“We believe in an Oakland where there’s equitable democracy; where the flatlands have representation, and where Black, indigenous, people of color have the ability to run for office,” Manigo said. “And where corporations and privatizers are not strong-arming our political system.”

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