Supervisors pass campaign finance reform ordinance

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EUREKA- Humboldt County political candidates will now be limited to $1,500 dollars per individual donor in a first of it’s kind move by the Board of Supervisors.

The supervisors passed the campaign finance reform ordinance Tuesday in a 4-1 vote, moving to put a cap on political contributions per donor, per election cycle. The ordinance effects all political candidates throughout the county and is

Meant to level the playing field for county elections.  

“We’ve gone from allowing an individual to donate $20,000 to restricting that to $1,500,” said 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennell during the discussion. “I say that's incredible. We've lowered the bar quite significantly.”

But not everyone was happy with the move. Several community members spoke against the ordinance, asking the supervisors to consider lowering the limitation to $500 per donor with a $50,000 cap on total funds raised per election cycle.

Adding voice to those arguments was 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace, who dissented in the vote.

“We did not have campaign finance reform before us, what we had was an ordinance regulating campaign finance,” Lovelace said. “You can't reform something until you've first decided what is the problem that you want to reform and that's a step that was never taken here. Instead we had a number, $1,500 that did not come from the public, was not something that I heard any public support for, except for one person and that seems to be the only number that was ever seriously talked about here.”

The ordinance will go into effect in 30 days and will limit campaign contributions starting next election cycle. The supervisors will be able to review the ordinance upon request in the next four years to see if the limitations have been successful, however there is no clause mandating further action.