Testimony of Will Petrik, Former City Council Candidate and Local Activist

Dec. 4, 2018

Dear Council President Hardin and Columbus City Council Members:

I am here today to ask that you exert leadership to limit the influence of big money in Columbus. We have an opportunity to make sure local campaigns and our local government reflect a democracy that’s of, for, and by all of us.

I am pleased that the city is taking action to bring dark money into the light in our local elections. Transparency and the ability of residents to follow the money is one of the pillars of a well-functioning democracy. Mayor Ginther’s proposed campaign contribution limit ($12,707.79) ensures that big moneyed special interests will continue to corrupt our local political system.

My main questions for you are:

Who does such a high limit help? Who does it harm? Why does it need to be so high? Who is pushing for it to be that high? Will you pursue a lower contribution limit in order to make our local elections more competitive and build a stronger voice for residents and neighborhoods – and not just the wealthy few?

On Tuesday, Nov. 27, I was invited to participate in a meeting at City Hall to “discuss campaign finance reform.” The meeting turned out to be not so much a discussion as an announcement. After months of hearing that campaign finance reform was a “non-starter” in Columbus, suddenly, reform was not only possible, it was imminent.

Less than 24 hours later, Mayor Ginther held a press conference to announce the new proposal. This week (on Dec 4 at 6:00 pm), Columbus City Council will hold a hearing on the proposal prior to a vote on Dec 10.
What’s the rush? Is there a reason this proposal is being pushed through so quickly without thoughtful deliberation and public input? Will you commit to holding more hearings to get more meaningful feedback from Columbus residents?

Like you, I want to help build an opportunity city for all. In order to do that, we need to build a democracy for all. We don’t often have the opportunity to actually get big money out of politics – or at least limit its influence. Let’s take the time to get this right