The Turlock City Council will seek public input on campaign finance regulations during a series of four special meetings scheduled in the next two weeks.
"I'm always looking for opportunities to increase transparency at City Hall and I want to hear any new ideas that Turlock’s residents might have to accomplish this goal," said Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth.
During the campaign finance workshops, the Council will receive information related to current and proposed campaign finance regulations, receive community input and discuss various aspects of campaign finance and other matters related to the subject.
Campaign finance was one of the issues brought forth during the Council meetings held from December 2015 through March that resulted in the change in process of selecting an operator for the downtown farmers’ market. Mayor Soiseth said during the March 1 Council meeting that the City would address the issue of campaign finance regulations and in May the series of meetings, one in each electoral district, were announced.
"A perception has been promoted by some that campaign finance reform is needed in Turlock. As a believer in direct communication, I'd like to listen to Turlock’s citizens before the Council decides what should be included in any new potential regulations. If we do pass additional disclosure requirements, we need to make sure we’re making real reforms without hidden loopholes," said Soiseth.
Councilman Steven Nascimento has been an advocate for campaign finance reform since being elected to the Council in 2012. In 2014, he introduced a "Tin Cup" ordinance that would have prohibited members of the City Council from voting on issues that could financially benefit large campaign contributors — a motion that failed on a 3-2 vote.
"I think most people are surprised to learn there are no limits (on campaign contributions) and more surprised when council members who received a significant contribution can then vote on an issue that affects that contributor the very next day," said Nascimento.
"I'm glad that we're having the conservation. It's long overdue. I'm hopeful it will be a real process and after hearing from the community the Council will take action," he continued. "Our residents need some basic assurances that local government is not influenced by campaign contributions and without rules people won't believe it."
The first meeting will be held at 6 p.m. June 8 at the Turlock High School Performing Arts Building, followed by meetings set for 6 p.m. June 9 at Cunningham Elementary School Cafeteria, 6 p.m. June 15 at Dennis Earl Elementary Cafeteria and 6 p.m. June 16 at Turlock Junior High Cafeteria.