Grassroots political activists citywide took a hit last week when none of the eight neighborhood candidates in the Council District 2 special election made it into the runoff. Instead, special interest-backed candidates Christine Essel and Paul Krekorian will go head-to-head in the December runoff.

But the City Hall hopefuls haven't stopped fighting. Ex-candidate Michael McCue, a spirited activist and Studio City Neighborhood Council board member who was endorsed by the local Green Party, is pushing for “clean money elections” so that grassroots candidates will have a fair shot in future races.

A “clean money election” would provide public funds for grassroots candidates so they can afford to compete with the big guys. Case in point: the CD 2 election, in which a professional politician and a career big business board member with huge war chests moved into the district, ran and won — largely because they were able to spend money on mailers that the other candidates simply could not afford.

In a “clean money election,” grassroots candidates would solicit $5 from everyone who signed their petitions to put them on the ballot. That money would then go into a public fund to be dispersed later to the grassroots candidates' campaigns.

Essel in the past has expressed support for clean money elections. But neither her nor Assemblyman Krekorian have publicly addressed the issue since winning the first round of the CD 2 special election.

Will the same elite candidates who benefited from a lack of public funds now support a new, more egalitarian way of funding campaigns?

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