Olena Rypich/The AS Review

Remy Levin, Associated Students elections coordinator, recently attended AS Management Council and asked for funds amounting to $2,500 to disperse between all candidates running for office this year.  Management Council approved the proposal unanimously.  If the AS Board of Directors passes the proposal during their Feb. 9 meeting, Management Council will fund the policy for the first year. If the policy proves to be successful, Levin said he would ask the AS Budget Committee to increase funding for future years.

The AS Review: Please explain a little bit about your proposal for the Public Financing Pilot Program.
Remy Levin: One of the things I’ve been working on this year is completely rewriting the election code and there’s been several policy elections with the code that hopefully the board will pass. One of the policies is the Public Financing policy. The way it works is the policy creates a pool of money, in this case, $2,500, and from that pool of money, anybody running in the election for the board, or anybody running a campaign for an initiative gets eligibility for public financing. The way it is written right now is someone can get up to $100 to spend on a campaign, unless there are more than 25 candidates running for office; in that case, the entire amount gets split up among the candidates.

Review: How does the process work?
Levin: It’s a refund method. Someone can submit an approval. Also, if they wanted to, students can file receipts at the end of the week, and get up to $25 back every week through the petty cash process. If students can’t come up with $100 at the beginning of the campaign, they can get refunds throughout, so there’s less money for them to put up front.

Review: What is the goal of this proposal?
Levin: There are two goals to this policy. The first one is making the elections more accessible to low-income students who don’t have funds to run a fully fledged campaign at this point.  I’ve spoken to quite a few people around campus and the Associated Students who have indicated to me that money is often a barrier. We have a spending limit right now of $150. Nobody can spend more than that. But a lot of people can’t even come close to that. Lots of students can’t put up $100 or even $50. They can’t even pay their bills. So this should make the elections more accessible and hopefully provide more income diversity for the board.

The second goal is a professionalization of all campaigns, even for students who are able to front the money. The fact that the Associated Students is providing funds for running for election gives a message of how seriously we take the elections.

Review: Why is public financing an issue?
Levin: There have been similar proposals in the past, but they all failed because they lacked a lot of the elements of the current proposal. If a policy like this is not carefully written, there are legitimate concerns with the funds.... We try to increase diversity, engagement, representation of students of all backgrounds in the Associated Students and this policy is essentially us putting our money where our mouth is. We’re not just saying we want students of diverse backgrounds to participate in the organization and in leadership roles, we’re actually writing the rules so it makes it easier for them.

Review: Can you explain the process for applicants?
Levin: It’s pretty simple. It’s not very bureaucratic at all. When someone files forms to run for office, they will fill out a form that says they want public funding. Then they can buy stuff during their campaign period. The only expenditures they can make are during the campaign period. If they buy something, they submit the receipts to the Finance Office, which forwards them to me. They can either hold on to those receipts until the end of the campaign or they can submit receipts by Monday of each week and they will be able to pick up the cash, up to $25, at the Finance Office the following Wednesday.