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Council to discuss campaign finance, transparency ordinances
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With 2014 being an election year with three city council seats up for grabs, Tuesday’s council meeting will highlight two areas of interest for City officials, including campaign contribution limits and an updated code of conduct.

Tuesday evening, the Council will consider adopting a resolution put together by Councilmember Steven Nascimento that would place monetary limits on campaign finances. Having worked on the resolution alongside City Attorney Phaedra Norton for the past two months, Nascimento hopes the ordinance will create transparency within the Council, while creating trust between Turlock residents and their elected officials.

“Although the Council is limited in its ability to address issues related to campaign finance on a national level, I believe that we should do our part to address this pervasive issue here in our community,” said Nascimento.

While Turlock’s current municipal code does not have one mention regarding campaign finances, the addition of such an ordinance would help limit the control or influence that finances have in local political campaigns.

Additionally, the ordinance would prohibit councilmembers from using their official position to influence a governmental decision in which they have a financial interest.

Should a councilmember or candidate be found in violation of the campaign finance provisions, the City Clerk would impose administrative penalties of $500 per violation. Additionally, the clerk may seek civil action in court.

“It is my hope that this ordinance will build greater public trust and assure the community that decisions are being made with the best interest of the community in mind, and not influenced by large campaign contributors,” said Nascimento.

In addition to the campaign finance ordinance, Nascimento requested that the Council seek an updated code of conduct for elected officials.  Covering how council members must conduct themselves with city staff, the public, commissions, the media, in meetings and several other occasions, the code of conduct helps provide council members with written guidelines on basic mannerisms.

Adding a section on ex-parte communications – a communication made with a council member outside of the official proceeding and off the record with any person except the city attorney – the updated code of conduct would suggest council members avoid such situations.

“When I ran for City Council, I committed to ensuring that the City would conduct its business openly and transparently,” said Nascimento, who says that both ordinances will provide more effective City leadership.

On Tuesday, the City Council is also expected to:

·         - Receive an update on capital projects and building activity;

·         - Discuss a proposed business at 755 Wayside Drive;

·         - Adopt the East Stanislaus Integrated Regional Water Management Plan;

·         - Review a  Future Business Leaders of America presentation by Pitman High and Dutcher Middle schools.

The Turlock City Council will meet at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall, located at 156 S. Broadway.