Campaign finance reform is the top issue for governor candidate Patrick Starnes of the Independent Party of Oregon.
Until “big money” is removed from politics, he told the Eagle, no other reforms will have much chance of success in the current two-party system.
With large donations from special interest groups fueling the campaigns of the Democrat and Republican parties, Starnes said voters are left with a choice of the lesser evil, rather than “a true third choice,” which he hopes to change. Starnes said he is modeling campaign finance reform by limiting donations to his campaign to $100.
He is touring the state, town by town, focusing on “solutions, not politics,” he said. Lifetime political party members have approached him at events and told him they plan to vote for him, he said.
“People want to really change it,” he said of the political system. “They’re tired of these arguments.”
Secondary priorities include open primary elections and the prevention of gerrymandering, he said.
A freelance cabinetmaker for 30 years with school board experience, Starnes said state politicians should be required to have served on school boards to learn about the issues facing communities.
After campaign finance reform, he said the state Public Employees Retirement System could be reformed through a nonpartisan committee, which would alleviate the PERS burden on school districts and provide more dollars in classrooms, which would lead to better graduation rates.
Health care, tax and economic reforms would all follow, he said, but wouldn’t be possible until campaign finance was reformed.
Starnes said he believes the general election will be interesting because 38 percent of Oregonians are not registered as Democrats or Republicans.
“I know I’m a dark horse,” he said, “but other dark horses have won.”