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Hudson Valley Press

March 20th, 2013

Middletown discusses citizen-funded elections

Assemblyman James Skoufis addresses the attendees.

MIDDLETOWN - Middletown residents and community leaders recently convened at the Middletown Thrall Library for a forum about the urgent need for publicly-financed Fair Elections.

Among the speakers were Assemblymembers Aileen Gunther and James Skoufis, who echoed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent call for citizen-funded elections to fix our broken campaign finance system.

Sponsored by the Citizen Action of New York Middletown Committee, the forum educated voters about how campaigns are currently funded by a handful of wealthy elites who buy political influence with lawmakers and undermine our democratic process. To transform this system and make it work for the people, elected officials and Middletown residents said that citizen-funded elections must be passed by the State Legislature this legislative session. Creating a small donor matching system will restore New York’s democratic integrity by giving candidates an incentive to build support among broad coalitions of everyday new Yorkers.

Both elected officials responded to residents’ concerns about the state of our campaign finance system and the need for real reform.

"This community forum sends a clear message that voters want publicly-financed Fair Elections," said State Assemblymember Aileen Gunther. "Along with Governor Cuomo, I believe that these are bold and transformative measures that will put our citizens back in the driver’s seat of our campaign finance system. The result will be a more effective and efficient government because lawmakers will be able to better serve the needs of our constituents."

"We need begin taking steps to remove the influence of money in politics - doing so will result in a more open and more responsive process," said State Assemblymember James Skoufis. "Campaign finance reform in New York State is critical to leveling the playing field and making sure that everyone’s voices are heard in government, not just those voices of people who can afford to contribute large sums to candidates."

"Voters are fed up with our broken campaign finance system and the corrupting influence of big money donors on our politics," said Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York. "They know that citizen-funded elections are the only way that we can empower ordinary New Yorkers to take back their democracy. A small donor matching system will ensure that their voices will always be heard in Albany. As our movement continues to gain strength, I hope that lawmakers will join Assemblymembers James Skoufis and Aileen Gunther in responding to voters and standing with Governor Cuomo for Fair Elections."

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