Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th) will ask the City Council Rules Committee Monday night to discuss his plan to use a slice of the city’s budget to fund future mayoral campaigns.
The plan is outlined in a 22-page draft ordinance that’s structured on the assumption the city would have both primary and runoff elections for mayor — something that voters chose to abolish when they adopted the ranked choice voting model last month.
The ordinance would require candidates to collect 100 initial donations from other people to qualify for matching funds.
They would then be entitled to receive from the taxpayers nine times whatever amount they were able to raise from private individuals.
Contributions to participating candidates would be limited to $150 per person per election. Matching fund payments would be capped at $45,000 per candidate per election.
Geracaris proposes funding the payments to candidates from a roughly $69,000 annual allocation from the city budget — a budget that is projected to total about $400 million in 2023.
That would be enough to fully fund six candidates in the no-primary, ranked-choice voting model, or three if both primary and runoff elections were held.
Participating candidates would be limited to $100,000 in total expenditures per election, and they and their spouses could contribute no more than $450 of their own money to a campaign.
Participating candidates would also be barred from accepting contributions from lobbyists, city contractors and developers of non-residential properties.
They would also be barred from coordinating with independent committees that either support them or oppose their opponents.
In the most recent two mayoral elections the winners spent more than $100,000 to get the job.
Campaign finance records show Mayor Daniel Biss spend nearly $107,000 in the period from July 2020 through June 2021.
And Mayor Steve Hagerty spend nearly $216,000 during the same period four years earlier.
Hagerty self-funded more than half his campaign expenditures, while Biss raised all of his campaign cash from others.
Under Supreme Court free speech decisions, any candidate who chose to do so would be free to reject the taxpayer financing and seek to raise additional funds privately.