As another election cycle is here, I realize that I can participate in a way I've never done before because of Seattle's new Democracy Voucher program. Taking big money out of politics, where even low-income people like myself can contribute to candidates, is why I supported passing Honest Elections and why I still support the voucher program. Because of the vouchers, I've been able to contribute more than I ever have before. I know I still can't support candidates in a way that wealthy people can, but this program helps fight the appearance of corruption in our election system.
Some people say that as a renter, I shouldn't have vouchers to give because the Democracy Voucher program is funded by a property tax, which costs the average homeowner about $11.50 per year. I am a taxpayer too. Although no property tax is directly linked to my name, paying rent every month contributes to my landlord's income that helps pay for their taxes.
Some people have said they don't support the democracy voucher program because the vouchers support candidates they don't agree with, but for me, I know that some vouchers will go to candidates that I don't support because they don't represent me. That's what's fair about this program. It gives me the opportunity to contribute and support people that represent my voice while others can support candidates that have their interests at heart.
As this election cycle nears its closing, I am thrilled that I've been able to participate in our democracy in a new way.
Gina Owens is a 16-year member of Washington CAN.