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Baltimore council should pass bill implementing publicly financed elections

The Baltimore City Council is taking up a bill by Councilmember Kristerfer Burnett to publicly finance elections.
The Baltimore City Council is taking up a bill by Councilmember Kristerfer Burnett to publicly finance elections. (Matt Button / Aegis Staff / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Baltimore voters passed Question H in November to set the stage for publicly financed elections, and councilman Kristerfer Burnett has introduced the legislation to enact the people’s will (“Baltimore’s next step toward better government,” June 21).

Our government prioritizes the interests of political donors at the expense of everyday citizens, and this is the structural violence that underlies Baltimore’s chronically high murder rate.

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At a national level, the gun industry has contributed millions of dollars to political campaigns in an effort to weaken firearm regulations. The subsequent proliferation of guns has directly contributed to the 150 murders we have seen in Baltimore so far this year.

At a local level, liquor stores have contributed thousands of dollars to mayoral and council campaigns to weaken liquor licensing regulations.

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Analysis conducted by professors at Johns Hopkins showed that a 10% increase in liquor outlets leads to a 4.2% increase in violent crime. Furthermore, 65% of liquor stores in Baltimore are not in compliance with zoning regulations. Community activists have protested the presence of liquor stores in residential areas for decades but have been thwarted by a lack of political will. We need campaign finance reform so that politicians prioritize voters over corporate donors that act as vectors of violence.

Baltimore voters overwhelmingly approved Ballot H to establish a public financing system for municipal elections. The bill is now before City Council and I urge everyone to contact their council member today and pressure them to implement the people’s will by approving this bill in its strongest form.

Logan Endow

The writer is a member of the Baltimore Fair Elections Coalition.

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