Council eyes limit on campaign donations

DOWNEY - After lengthy discussion Monday, City Council members could not come to terms on new campaign finance laws that would regulate contribution limits for local elections.Council members also need to decide if they will set the new regulations themselves or put the issue in front of voters this November. The issue will be revisited at the June 28 council meeting. Mayor Luis Marquez and council members David Gafin and Mario Guerra have sought to place campaign contribution limits in an effort, they said, to dissuade candidates from "buying elections." Meanwhile, Councilman Fernando Vasquez is seeking to extend the length of time a candidate must live in the district prior to being eligible for election; currently, a person only needs to live in Downey 30 days prior to being able to hold public office. On Monday, council members debated appropriate campaign contribution limits. Most council members seemed to support a $1,000 cap on single-source donations, but Marquez, who was elected in the city-wide District 5, recommended a higher limit of $2,500. City attorney Yvette Abich Garcia said she will investigate the legality of establishing separate contribution limits for council districts. She is expected to reveal her findings June 28. Whether council members have final word on the issue also remains to be seen. According to Garcia, campaign finance laws may be adopted by the council as an amendment to the municipal code or submitted to the voters on Nov. 8 as a special election consolidated with the county's election. The special election would cost the city between $40,000 and $50,000.

********** Published: June 16, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 9