Reader view: Will candidates pledge to support charities?

There was a recent article in My Edmonds News about the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission seeking guidance on how candidates for elected office can use left-over campaign contributions. While the article itself may have somewhat flown under the radar of most of us, there were a number of very good observations and suggestions posted by readers in the comments. I’d like to help advance one of those ideas.

Let’s challenge those who seek public office in Edmonds to campaign for the common good. Maybe challenge isn’t the right word. Let’s ask them to take a pledge.

We ask each candidate for public office in Edmonds to pledge leftover campaign contributions to an Edmonds charity of their choice. This is a small, but noble gesture.  For transparency, they can make the commitment and name the charity on their website. Doing so would also have the additional benefit of helping to level the field in future elections between incumbents (who can carry over unused funds) and challengers.

As a community, we have an opportunity to lead by example. We don’t need to wait for the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission for any “guidance.” At every opportunity, let’s remind and encourage the candidates to participate.

If we want to be bold, we can extend this “opportunity” to all candidates who will show up on our ballots this August and November regardless of the elected position being sought.

The true colors of all candidates may emerge. Let’s see if they can make this simple gesture of goodwill to worthy causes. Besides, it wasn’t their money in the first place.  Regardless, whether the candidate wins or loses the election, our local charities are the ones who may benefit the most. This is a rare win-win.

To his credit, Roger Pence (Council Position 1 candidate) quickly took up the pledge.  Will others follow?

Candidates, who’s in? This may be the first visible decision you make on behalf of the community you seek to serve.

— By Jim Ogonowski

Jim Ognowski lives in Edmonds.

  1. Great Idea!

    No need to stop at the city border, we can all begin to ask candidates all candidates at all levels, using emails, letters to the editors, and of course, “social media”

  2. On May 30 Edmonds Civic Round Table will be hosting a “Speed Dating with the Candidates”. It will be in the big room on the main floor of the WFC. This may be a great way to gather a pledge from each candidate on their intentions with their excess campaign dollars. Some thoughts:
    1. Filling for office will close May 19?
    2. Current public discloser records show data for each candidate(rounded numbers): Kevin Fagerstrom raised $0 spent $0. Michelle Dorsch R $0 S $0. Susan Paine R $1300 S$1700 and has debt of $1700. Roger Pence R $0 S $0. and Vivian Olsen R $2600 S $100. They will probably be filing an updated report before May 30, the ECRT candidate event.
    3. We will know on May 19 who has opponents and who will be running unopposed, except for write ins.
    4. So, the May 30 ECRT event, we can ask each candidate what the state of their finances is and ask for their pledge to their favorite charity. They will have some good local charities identified.
    5. Maybe we can find a way to add to their pledge and help our local charities.

    Bring money!!

    1. Victor, the proposed pledge is for candidates to donate unused campaign contributions to an EDMONDS charity. I’m not going to let this be hijacked by suggesting this is some sort of conspiracy, because it’s not.

  3. I would like to join the pledge and will donate any surplus campaign funds to support the work of local non-profits. I believe there are more than 400 nonprofits located in Edmonds with many more throughout the region and country doing work here. The needs are significant. I pledge to split any surplus funds equally to Edmonds Food Bank, Foundation for Edmonds School District, Washington Kids in Transition and Edmonds Center for the Arts.

  4. Thank you, Mike and Kevin, for stepping up! With Roger, that makes one mayoral and two council candidates for local office who have taken the pledge. Once the candidate pool is complete, I’ll reach out to all others to make sure they know of this drive to help Edmonds. In the meantime, please pass the word.

  5. Thanks Jim for contacting me.

    For me, I generally run a lean campaign as those donors need to know I’m conscientious of their money. I have never had a surplus in the past three Generals – but I’m in!

    I just cut a check today to the Boys and Girl’s Capital campaign – so yes – there are many non-profits to donate too and some capital campaigns!

  6. If there are campaign funds left over, I’ll donate those to Washington Kids in Transition.

    Past council members have also done this and likely seeded the idea for this campaign. It’s a very good idea and totally allowed through law.

  7. Hello Jim,

    This is largely ceremonial for me, because I am running unopposed, but I would like to give any excess campaign funds to the Jean Kim Foundation. Even though they are not technically based in Edmonds (Lynnwood), they provide a lot of support to the unhoused population along Edmonds’ portion of the Highway 99 Corridor. It is a nonprofit that I have donated to and volunteered with in the past and their mission means a lot to me.


    Jenna Nand

  8. Funds remaining from this year’s campaign should only be donated if the candidate is ending their political career. If that’s not the case the funds were donated for campaigning so they should be retained for use in the next campaign.

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