The Pleasanton City Council has voted to cap contributions to election campaigns at $1,000 per individual and business, while limiting spending to $30,000 for mayoral campaigns and $24,000 per council seat.
The council voted 3-2 Tuesday, with Kathy Narum and Jack Balch dissenting. The matter had been on the agenda for the May 4 meeting before the council ran out of time and rescheduled its vote.
Council members agreed the $1,000 limit was adequate. Differences arose over the spending limits. Both Narum and Balch said they wanted the amount to be flexible and tied to the number of registered voters in each election.
“As a person who has run for city council as well as mayor, the mayor’s seat is a bigger job with a bigger seat and is more highly sought after.”Mayor Karla Brown
“I would need any amount to be forward thinking, or at least have the foresight to understand that we’re about to talk about significantly increasing the population of Pleasanton, potentially, and as a result, this amount does nothing to keep pace with the number of registered voters in our community,” Balch said.
Narum and Balch also questioned the higher spending limits for mayoral candidates. Mayor Karla Brown said it is a bigger job, therefore a more competitive race.
“As a person who has run for city council as well as mayor, the mayor’s seat is a bigger job with a bigger seat and is more highly sought after,” Brown said.
Some council members also said they wanted more transparency in contribution reporting. Vice Mayor Julie Testa said there seemed to be “innuendo” over past reporting.
“If someone has something they want to state, I think it should be stated,” Testa said. “I think there is already a very rigid requiring of transparency and timely filing.”
The Pleasanton campaign limits are voluntary. The California Fair Political Practices Commission enforces higher state limits on individual campaign contributions for some local offices at $4,900. Nevertheless, Pleasanton candidates will now be expected to sign a pledge to adhere to the new city limits when they officially file papers to run for office. They will also be expected to later sign verifications they conformed to the limits, which would be filed with the city clerk.