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Women in Support of Fair Elections

March 2, 2014 (signers list updated on March 5, 2014)

Hon. Governor Andrew Cuomo
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos
Senate Leader Jeffery Klein
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver
NYS Capitol
Albany, New York 12204

To the Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Senate Leader Jeffery Klein and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver:

As women and leaders of national and state organizations, business and civic life, elected officials, and philanthropists we call on you to take action for women and democracy, by enacting public campaign finance reform in New York State now.

We need a bold approach to restore our democracy and take it back from the hands of the few, big money donors who too often call the shots in Washington and state capitols across the country.

On February 5th, Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD), along with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and over 100 House members as original co-sponsors, introduced the Government By the People Act (H.R. 20) – a bill to lift up the voices of everyday people in the political process through empowering and encouraging small dollar donors. The legislation is modeled, in part, on the matching system already in place in NYC.

Now, with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s inclusion of this important reform in his 2014 Executive Budget Proposal, we are encouraged that New York State will pass the proposal into law. Doing so, will lead the rest of our nation in the fight to ensure voters always come before donors.

For women in particular, this kind of reform is vital to participation in politics. We know that when women are elected to office, they fight for and win passage of issues that deeply affect women and their families. Although we have come so far in the last 100 years, women are still drastically underrepresented in our country’s capital and your own. Indeed, 160 years after the Seneca Falls Convention and the birth of the women’s right movement in New York, women hold only 18 percent of the seats in the New York State Senate, and 25 percent in the State Assembly. These numbers are shamefully low.

The dearth of women lawmakers and leaders has resulted in legislatures that too often stand in the way of real reform. We have it within our power to remedy this by electing more women, but to do so we must first change the way elections are financed. As the Center for Women in Politics reminds us, “Beyond achieving fundamental fairness and democratic ideals, having women in office makes a difference.”

We know public campaign financing encourages and facilitates women running for office. In fact, five of six states with public financing of elections (Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Minnesota and Nebraska) have a higher percentage of women representatives in state legislative bodies than the national average. The first Governor elected with a full public financing system was a woman: Janet Napolitano of Arizona. And New York City’s robust system of public financing recently helped elect two women of color as top city-wide leaders: Public Advocate Tish James and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

As we continue our own work to empower women, move women’s issues to the forefront of public debate and encourage our daughters to be anything they want to be, we urge you, the leaders in New York State government, to move Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget proposal to implement a voluntary public financing campaign system for all legislative and statewide races in New York into law. We are on the verge of making history – New York must lead the way.

Sincerely,

Genie Abrams, Council member, Newburgh City Council
Mary Adams, Commissioner of Education, Rochester
Ivette Alfonso, President, Citizen Action of New York
Mimi Alperin, Former Chair, Board of Governors AJC
Francena Amparo, County Legislator, Dutchess County Legislature
Dorcey Applyrs, Common Council Member-First Ward, Albany Common Council
Lynn Archer, County Legislator, District 21, Ulster County Legislature
Ana Maria Archila, Co-Executive Director, Center for Popular Democracy
Nan Aron, President, Alliance for Justice
B.C. Ashmall-Liversidge, Member, WIN-NYC
Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Director, Make the Road New York
Nancy Bagley, President, The Arca Foundation
Nicole Bagley, Vice President, The Arca Foundation
Martha Baker, Deputy Director, NY Paid Leave Coalition
Andrea Baldwin, CRWN, Capital Region Womens Network
Michele Balfour
Sybil Bank, Reach Out America
Tracey Bartels, County Legislator, District 16, Ulster County Legislature
Phoebe P Bender, Past President, Common Cause/NY, NYS Women’s Legislative Forum
Alison R Bernstein, Director, The Institute for Women’s Leadership
Loren Blackford, Director, Sierra Club Board
Becky Bond, Political Director, CREDO
Catherine Borgia, Majority Leader, Westchester County Board of Legislators
Kate Breslin, President and CEO, Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy
The Rev. Chloe Breyer, Executive Director, The Interfaith Center of New York
Marissa Brown, Executive Director, Democracy Initiative
Minna Buck, Thursday Morning Roundtable
Sherry Chachkin, Councilwoman, Town of Rochester
Ellen Chesler, Director, Women’s Rising Program, Roosevelt Institute
Allison Chin, Immediate Past President, Sierra Club Board
Margaret Chin, Councilmember, New York City
Diana Cihak, Founder/Executive Director, WomenElect/WE Pac
Jane E. Colvin, Secretary of the Board, League of Women Voters of the City of New York
Jo Ann Corkran, Managing Director, Golden Seeds
Michelle de la Uz, Executive Director, Fifth Avenue Committee, Inc.
Jennifer Diagostino, Executive Director, Coalition for Economic Justice
Abigail E Disney, Daphne Foundation, Fork Films, Peace is Loud, & Gbowee Peace Foundation
Cindy Doran, County Legislator, Rensselaer County Legislature
Tamara Draut, Vice President, Policy & Research, Demos
Hazel Dukes, President, NAACP New York State Conference
Khyati Dutt, Editor-in-Chief, NYC Lean In
Jacqueline M. Ebanks, Executive Director, Women’s City Club of New York
Janice Epstein, Reach Out America
Catherine Fahey, Council Member, 7th ward, Albany Common Council
April Farley, Dutchess County Legistlator District 18, Working Families Party
Elaine Fernandez, Councilwoman, Rhinebeck Town Board
Julissa Ferreras, Councilmember, New York City
Georgia Frank, Professor, Colgate University
Ester Fuchs, Director/ Professor of Public Affairs and Political Science, Whosontheballot.org / Columbia University
Anna Galland, Executive Director, MoveOn
Katrina Gamble, Political Director, Action for the Common Good
Linda L. Gerlach, President & CEO, The Gerlach Group, Inc.
Gina Glantz, Founder, genderavenger.com
Leah Golby, Council Member, 10th Ward, City of Albany Common Council
Sophie Gonsalves-Brown, President, Vassar College Democracy Matters
Elektra Gray, Director of Communications, Demos
Agnes Gund
Anita Halasz, Executive Director, Long Island Jobs with Justice
Donna Hall, President & CEO, Women Donors Network
Paula Hansen, Past President, Metro Justice
Tatsiana Haury Lovich, Assistant Vice President, Citigroup
Anne Hess
Alice B. Hicks, Founder & SVP (Retired), Iridian Asset Management
Judith H. Hope, Founder, Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee
Polly Howells, Board Chair, Bioneers
Helen Hudson, City Councilwoman, Syracuse
Pamela Hunter, Councilor at Large, City of Syracuse Common Council
Letitia James, Public Advocate, New York City
Ann Jamison, President, CNY-NOW
Sarah Jaynes, Executive Director, Washington Progress Alliance
Rabbi Jennifer Jaech, Co-Chair, Reformed Jewish Voice of New York State
Karen B. Johnson, Vice Cair, Schenectady County Legislature
Gwen Johnson, Legislator, 9th District, Dutchess County
Daquetta Jones, Executive Director, YWCA
Cindy Kaleb, County Legislator, Monroe County Legislature
Susan Kelley, Program Director, LWV/STOP
Vivian Kornegay, Councilmember, Albany Common Council
Ellen Percy Kraly, Professor, Colgte University
Peggy Kuo, Deputy Commissioner, NYC Office of Administrative Trials & Hearings
Julie Kushner, Director, UAW Region 9A
Barbara Lawton, President & CEO, Americans for Campaign Reform
Geraldine Laybourne, Chairwoman, Kandu
Patricia Lazak, Business Manager, Domani Trust
Catherine Lederer-Plaskett, President, WCLA – Choice Matters
Rhonda Levine, Professor of Sociology, Colgate University
Sonia Lopez, Philanthropic Advisor, A G Foundation
Judith Ludwig, Reach Out America
Michele Madigan, Commissioner of Finance, City of Saratoga Springs
Martha Maffei, Executive Director, SEPA Mujer, Inc.
Paula Mahan, Town Supervisor, Town of Colonie
Betsy Malcolm, Board Member, Act Now
Joan Mandle, Executive Director, Democracy Matters
Robin Mann, Former President, Sierra Club Board
Anne McAndrews, Mayor, Village of Larchmont, NY
Nancy McCabe, Executive Director, The Kohlberg Foundation
Heather McGhee, President, Demos
Viola McKaig, Past State President, NYS Women, Inc.
Carolyn McLaughlin, President, Albany Common Council
Alison McLean Lane, County Legislator, Albany County Legislature
Karen Mejia, City Council Person, City of Newburgh
Zenaida Mendez, President, National Organization for Women-NYS
Jen Metzger, Councilwoman, Rosendale Town Council
Nancy Meyer, President, Summer Fund II
Andrea Miller, NARAL Pro-Choice NY, President
Sally Minard, President, Four Freedoms Park Conservancy
Stephanie Miner, Mayor, Syracuse
Julie Muraco, Managing Partner, Praeditis Group LLC
Linda Murphy, Town Board Member, Town of Colonie
Sara Niccoli, Executive Director, Labor Religion Coalition of New York State
Jackie Ortiz, City Councilwoman, Rochester
Lenore Palladino, Vice President, Policy & Outreach, Demos
Jane Pendergast, President, AAUW-Westchester
Ann Perry, Poughkeepsie City Council, Councilwoman
Corazon Pineda, Councilmember, 2nd District, Yonkers City Council
Josie Pizer, Reach Out America
Joan Policano, NOW
Marion Porterfield, Councilwoman, Schenectady City Council
Willa Powell, Commissioner of Education, Rochester City School Board
Jeanette Provenzano, Legislator, Ulster County
Rita Rabinowitz, Reach Out America
Kate Ramkissoon, City of Middletown, Alderman, 3rd Ward
Marisa Ricciardi
Kathleen Rice, Nassau County District Attorney
Leslie Rivera, Legislator, Monroe County Leglislature
Sally Robinson, President, League of Women Voters of NYS
Anne Roosevelt, CEO, Goodwill of Northern New England
Rev. Frances W. Rosenau, Associate Pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church
Judi Rosenthal, President, Rosenthal Design Group, LLC
Helen Rosenthal, Councilmember, New York City
Peggy Ross, Councilwoman, Beacon NY City Council
Sheryl Rubenstein
Susan Rubinstein, Board Chair, Common Cause/NY
Elizabeth Russo, Branch Co-President, AAUW
Sandra Salat, President, Reach Out America
Jacqui Samuels, Director, J Samuels Group
Christine Sandler, Retired
Lisa Sarsour, Executive Director, Arab American Association of New York
Donna Schaper, Senior Minister, Judson Church
Karen Scharff, Executive Director, Citizen Action of New York
Charlotte Schienborg, League of Women Voters of the City of New York
Allison Sesso, Executive Director, Human Services Council
Robin Shanus
Kathy Sheehan, Mayor, City of Albany
Janet Shenk, Trustee, Arca Foundation
Rosemary Shields, Co-Chair, Campaign Finance Reform, League of Women Voters of the City of New York
MaryJane Shimsky, Legislator, District 12, Westchester County
Dorothy Siegel, Treasurer, Working Families Party
Claire Silberman, Vice Chair, New Leaders Council
Irena Skrobach, Councilwoman, Irondequoit Town Council
Anne-Marie Slaughter, President, New America Foundation
Beth Smayda, Councilwoman, White Plains Common Council
Sande Sommers, Alderman, City of Middletown
Gillian Sorenson, Senior Advisor and National Advocate, United Nations Foundation
Elaine Spaull, City Councilmember, East District, Rochester City Council
Betty Spence, President, National Association for Female Executives (NAFE)
Kathy Spillar, Feminist Majority
Elizabeth Spinzia, Supervisor, Town of Rhinebeck
Gloria Steinem
Donna Stempniak, Councilmember, Town of Lancaster
Linda Stephens, Past president, National Organization for Women, Rochester Chapter
Roma Stibravy, President, NGO Sustainability
Sarah Stranahan, Strategic Development Director, Free Speech For People
Micki Strawinski, County Legislator, District 20, Dutchess County Legislature
Roseanne Sullivan, Legislator, 18th District, Orange County Legislature
Kathryn Swintek, Chair Emerita, C200
Margery Tabankin, President, Margery Tabnkin & Associates
Elizabeth Talerman, CEO, Managing Director, Nucleus Branding
Stephanie Taylor, Co-Founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee
Zephyr Teachout, Fellow, New America Foundation, Associate Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law
Ann Toback, Executive Director, Workmen’s Circle
Christine Todd Whitman, Former Governor, New Jersey
Linn Underhill, Associate Professor, Colgate University
Elizabeth Upp
Athena Villarreal, Activist, Endangered Bodies NYC
Peggy Wallace, Managing Director, Golden Seeds
Lovely Warren, Mayor, Rochester
Susan Weber, Regional Organizer, MoveOn.org
Rachel W. Whitlow, COO, Portico Brands
Kelly Williams, Board Chair, SCO Family of Services
Monica Williams, Onondaga County Legislator
Ruth Wolosoff, Reach Out America
Felicia Wong, Roosevelt Institute, President and CEO
Shannon Wong, Member, Orange County Legislature
Charmaine Wood, President, Democracy Matters Chapter at Russell Sage College
Ruth Woodeb, Retired President, Public Agenda
Brenda Wright, Vice President, Legal Strategies, Demos
Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director, UPROSE
Sondra Youdelman, Executive Director, Community Voices Heard
Haydee Zambrana, CEO, Latin Women in Action, Inc.
Barbara Zaron, Co-Chair, Reformed Jewish Voice of New York State
Beverly Zeldin, Reach Out America
Susan Zimet, Town Supervisor, Town of New Paltz