Westchester Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins is proposing legislation to set up a system of public financing for campaigns for county offices similar to the system in place in New York City.
Public financing, which is supported by good government groups, is intended to reduce the influence of corporations and special interests, increase the emphasis on small donors and widen the pool of potential candidates.
The system is proposed to be optional and to apply to the county executive, county clerk and county legislative candidates. It would limit campaign spending and provide a 6 to 1 match for contributions up to $175. The legislation would set up a Westchester County Campaign Finance Board and require candidates to take part in three debates per election.
“This year between five and six million dollars will be spent on the race for Westchester County Executive,” Jenkins wrote in the memorandum of legislation proposing the bill. “Much of that will come from big money by developers, lawyers and other corporations. This type of influence in politics is bad for our democracy. It casts a cloud over our government and leaves the public with doubt over who their elected officials are really working for.”
The fiscal impact was not immediately addressed.