Posted by Dr. Hamdy El-Rayes, August 24, 2018
To be elected under the current electoral system, candidates’ experience, qualifications, and skills are irrelevant. What matters is how much money they can raise and spend on their election campaigns. In most cases, the candidate with the most campaign funds wins.
Election campaign funding at all levels cost less than 0.01% of the city budget. Funding the elections from taxpayers will be one of the best investments for the City because every dollar the city spends on the elections will save thousands of dollars special interest groups get as a payback after their candidate wins. In this way, we will be able to get the best among us who want to leave a legacy and be able to participate without begging the voters for money.
By just adding $3 to our taxes the City could fund the elections and set our politicians free from begging the wealthy for funding their elections for a price taxpayers later pay back 100’s of times over.
As a councilor, I would request that the City funds the election campaign to help elected council not be tied down by the money the wealthy donated to their campaign.
Term limits for elected politicians
People get involved in politics to serve the public good, but history shows that many do so for careerist reasons. Such politicians become part of the machinery of government and seek to perpetuate themselves in power. This renders them not only ineffective as representatives, but also politically corrupt.
As a councilor, I would request to limit the number of terms a politician could serve to two, and then they go back to their private job/business.
There are too many candidates running for the Vancouver City Council making it too difficult for the voters to know about the candidates, their personal philosophy and what they stand up for. Regardless of whether the candidates belong to a political party or independents, there is no way for the voters to pick the best 10 out of the more than 40 candidates.
If elected, I would propose dividing the city into 10 electoral districts, each district is represented by a councilor to enable the voters to get to know who they are voting for.
More information about election reforms
In politics, two factors hijack the democratic process including election campaign funding and the number of terms a politician serves.
Election campaign funding
To be elected under the current system, candidates’ experience, qualifications, and skills are irrelevant. What matters is how much money they can raise and spend on their election campaigns. In most cases, the candidate with the most campaign funds wins.
If we expect the best-qualified and experienced candidates to run for office, we need to prohibit private campaign contributions. Some people may frown upon this idea, claiming that it infringes on individual rights or that the idea is socialist, but it would be more cost-effective and honest.
Even with limiting the donations to $1200 per year per candidate, the door is still open for abuse of the democratic process.
The idea of funding election campaigns through taxes is not new. ACE Electoral Knowledge Network is a non-profit organization that promotes credible and transparent electoral processes with emphasis on sustainability, professionalism, and trust in the electoral process. According to data from the ACE Network, out of a sample of over 180 nations, only 25 percent do not provide public electoral funding, 58 percent provide direct public funding, and 60 percent provide indirect public funding. Some countries provide both direct and indirect funding to political parties.
In the end, the people pay for election campaigns, either directly or indirectly. Currently in our democracy, they are funded indirectly, and many times higher than the real cost because campaign spending is also a form of private investment. It is returned to those who fund the elections many times over in the form of tax breaks, subsidies, and loopholes to help them save millions of dollars. Evidently, one of the main causes of the housing crisis in Vancouver was the ability of the developers and the wealthy to control the political process and brought them billions of dollars in profits.
Election campaign funding from tax revenues would be immeasurably cheaper and more transparent. In the past 20 years, the average cost of the elections was about 0.1% compared to the budget. This is a small price to free elected politicians from the control of special interest groups. Under such a program, candidates would be more likely to be elected based on merit. If elected, they would dedicate their time to serving the public without worrying about raising funds for the next election. Re-election will only be dependent on how well they served their community.
Term limits for elected politicians
Although people who get involved in politics are supposed to do that out of a desire to serve the public good, history shows that many do so for careerist reasons. Such politicians become part of the machinery of government and seek to perpetuate themselves in power. This renders them not only ineffective as representatives, but also politically corrupt.
When career politicians have to make an unpopular decision, they have to choose between doing the right thing even though it may cost them re-election and betraying their principles to protect their positions. If all politicians were limited to serving no more than two consecutive terms, the careerist impulse might be eliminated. A candidate who does not plan a career in politics would be more likely to leave a positive legacy. In addition, it would allow other talented people to serve.