Council enacts voluntary campaign spending limits

DOWNEY - After months of negotiations, City Council members reached an agreement this week on a new set of laws meant to regulate local campaign contributions and expenditures.Under the new ordinance unanimously approved Tuesday, candidates for City Council in districts 1-4 can accept campaign contributions up to $1,500 per person if they agree not to spend more than $30,000 during the campaign. Candidates who decline to follow the expenditure limit can only accept contributions of up to $1,000 per person. In the city-wide District 5, the voluntary spending cap is set at $50,000. The individual contribution limit is $2,000 or $1,500. The voluntary spending limits in all districts are subject to annual adjustments according to the Consumer Price Index, said city attorney Yvette Abich Garcia. The ballot, ballot pamphlet and sample ballet will "prominently designate those candidates who voluntarily accept the expenditure limit," Abich Garcia added. Council members also capped personal campaign loans at $15,000. The new rules are designed, in part, to discourage outsiders from moving into the city and "buying an election," council members have previously said. "Since last year one of our objectives has been campaign finance reform," said Mayor Luis Marquez, who occupies the District 5 seat. "I think we've come a long way. This is a big moment for the city of Downey, this council and everyone involved in this." Councilman Mario Guerra said the council could have gone further in reforming campaign spending. "I'm happy we're setting boundaries, it's a good start," he said. "But I don't think we went far enough." -Eric Pierce, city editor

********** Published: August 25, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 19