North Carolina has quietly begun building a national reputation for campaign finance reform.
Our clean elections system where candidates get public grants to run for office — rather than soliciting contributions from big donors — is considered the best in the South. Our judicial elections are consistently held up as a model for changing “business as usual” in the courtroom.
But as more than 100 citizens reminded legislators during a public lobby day in Raleigh this week, now is no time let up.
For one thing, three of our Council of State offices were included in a clean elections pilot last November. By all accounts, the plan fulfilled expectations. Legislators now should make the program a permanent part of our statewide elections landscape.
State lawmakers also should give North Carolina cities the option of clean elections. With local campaign costs rising at breakneck speed, many municipal leaders are interested in testing new ideas. They should have the same public finance option that the legislature gave the Town of Chapel Hill in 2007.
Our gains in campaign finance reform are tenuous, and they deserve to be solidified legislatively.