New Blood and Elbow Grease

Arizona state legislator Christine Weason barnstormed through Austin last weekend promoting the Austin Fair Elections Act. Known as Prop. 1, the Act would provide public matching funds to City Council candidates, who would qualify by getting 500 people to give them a signature and $5 each.

The three-term Democrat from central Phoenix decided in 2000 to participate in Clean Elections, Arizona's voluntary public-funding election system. Begun in 1998, the system operates along guidelines similar to those proposed by Prop. 1. "Naked City" spoke to her last Friday:

Austin Chronicle: What was your experience with public funding?

Christine Weason: As an incumbent, obviously you always have the advantage of raising more money as opposed to the challenger. [Clean Elections] put us all on a level playing field. So no longer could you outspend someone else to win an election, but you actually had to debate the issues.

AC: What made you go with the system since you had the incumbent's advantage?

CW: I'm a lunatic [laughs]. My constituents are very progressive ... and there's a strong distrust and dislike of lobbyist influence on legislators. I wanted to show my constituents that I'm there for them, and not the lobbyists.

AC: What did you do with your spare time once you no longer had to suck up to lobbyists?

CW: It was a joy, especially during campaign season. Instead of dialing for dollars, I would be out on the streets knocking on doors.

AC: What makes you like this enough to come all the way to Texas to speak about it?

CW: I just want to tell folks it's not the end of the world, it really is an exciting new beginning, so don't be afraid of change.

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