Poughkeepsie Residents Call on Albany to be Accountable to Community's Priorities

Group Release new research showing contributions to State Senator overwhelmingly from out-of-district and big money donors

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POUGHKEEPSIE, NY (04/04/2012)(readMedia)-- On Wednesday, residents and community leaders from Community Voices Heard (CVH) in Poughkeepsie gathered outside the Dutchess County Office Building on Market St to demand that their elected officials that represent them in Albany pass a Fair Elections system during this year's legislative session.

A publicly-financed Fair Elections system would reduce the impact of large campaign contributions in New York's political system and boost voters' voices in elections by allowing candidates to run for office with small, in-district donations.

"2 of every 3 dollars Senator Saland received since 2005 came from donors that live outside his district, and a whopping 96% of his contributions came in as checks over $200. This looks like his contributors are mainly big money contributors that don't even live here. We look forward to working with Senator Saland to address the shortcomings of the state election law that currently prevent New Yorkers without those sorts of big money connections from effectively participating," said Sheila Blanding, a CVH member and Poughkeepsie resident.

The current election rules push New Yorkers that are not wealthy or less connected further to the margins, leaving them virtually no path to meaningful participation in the electoral system. To illustrate this point, CVH leaders released new findings, provided by Common Cause/NY, regarding the campaign finances of New York State Senator Stephen Saland. These findings detailed the sources of donations to Senator Saland, including comparisons of small and large donations, as well as in-district and out-of-district donations.

"New York State's elections favor the rich and keep the rest of us out in the cold, struggling to find jobs and secure the benefits we need. Because campaigns are financed by the 1%, the people are not the elected officials' top priority," said Jean Hayes, a Community Voices Heard member and Poughkeepsie resident.

The CVH members are working as part of a statewide effort called Fair Elections for New York. More information can be found at www.CVHaction.org/FairElections.