Legislative Term Limits
I will fight for the creation of state legislative term limits in Oregon. There are currently 15 states with limits on state legislators. They are all very different in duration, and some are lifetime term limits, while other states have limits on consecutive terms. Oregon has no limits on the legislators regarding terms served. Oregon does, however, have a governor term limit. It’s long passed due that Oregon creates legislative term limits.
I would propose the following:
State House Representatives: Limited to three consecutive terms (6 years) in the Oregon House, and no more than five terms (10 to 20 years) in a lifetime for either the Oregon House or Senate.
State Senators: Limited to four consecutive legislative terms, counting terms served in the House, and no more than five terms (10 to 20 years) in a lifetime for either the Oregon House or Senate.
Legislative term limits will improve our current problems with incumbency in Oregon, and keep our legislature filled with what we refer to as “citizen legislators,” and not “career politicians.” This change will go a long way to reducing corruption, cronyism, and inside deals regarding how incumbents game the system to appoint successors.
Primary Election Reform
Having worked to solve the problem with our primary elections, to protect against incumbents picking their successors, I developed a feasible plan to guarantee security in our primary process. This plan will restore faith in Oregon politics regarding party integrity, and public trust.
If a candidate, that has filed for the primary, withdraws within seven business days before the last day to withdraw, leaving only one candidate in a primary election, the new last day to file will be seven business days after the regular last day to withdraw, with the new last day to withdraw being three business days after the extended last day to file. No further extensions will be allowed.
This will encourage incumbents, and all other candidates, to consider their candidacy seriously, granting enough notice to allow others to enter a race with a “last chance” opportunity. For example: Candidate Joe and candidate Sally file in October, but the last day to withdraw is coming up in March. Joe withdraws on the last day to withdraw. The Secretary of State creates a new last day to file seven business days after the last day to withdraw and issues public notice. Sally could potentially have an opponent. But, if Sally withdraws, and no one else files, there can be no further extension, and the vacancy would be filled as per existing procedures.
Public Campaign Finance
It is essential to the functioning of a democracy that the playing field is fair for candidates representing apportioned districts in the legislature. If the public helps those candidates that demonstrate a minimum of individual supporters, Oregon’s political climate will become more representative of the population.
If a state legislative candidate can raise 50% of the average total expenditures spent by candidates for that same office in the last election, Oregon will make a contribution to bring the candidate’s contributions up to 130% of the average total expenditures spent by candidates for the last two elections for that same office.
For example: If candidate Joe spent $20,000 in the last election, candidate Sally needs to raise $10,000 solely from individual contributors to receive the Oregon campaign contribution. If Joe, and other candidates combined, spent an average of $15,000 in the previous two elections, the state would match Sally up to $22,750 by giving her campaign $12,750.
It is difficult to determine the cost to Oregon when it comes to this plan with any accuracy, since we have not done this yet. This plan is similar to others that have been introduced. It will reduce incumbency, and keep campaigns on track to seek money from individual donors instead of PACs and businesses. This public financing of elections would likely cost the state, in any given legislative election cycle, $2 to $4 million given the best estimates of those who would qualify. This is a small price to pay to guarantee fair elections and citizen engagement. This also enforces campaign transparency, and encourages the involvement of candidates with their constituents.