While it is no secret that money plays an enormous role in political campaigns, some believe that wealth holds too much influence not only in federal and state politics, but locally as well.
In response, Turlock City Council member Steven Nascimento has introduced an ordinance calling for transparency within the City Council, including placing monetary limits on campaign finances.
“I have spoken to many individuals in our community who have shared their concerns about what they perceive as the undue influence of money in our political system,” said Nascimento. “And 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.”
With 2014 being an election year for many crucial positions, including the Governor’s seat, the Turlock City Council will have three seats up for grabs in November, making it perfect timing for Nascimento’s efforts.
Next Tuesday, the City Council members will vote on Nascimento’s ordinance, determining the future of campaign finances for future council elections. Working alongside City Attorney Phaedra Norton over the past two months to develop the ordinance, Nascimento hopes that the regulation, if passed, will help instill trust between Turlock residents and their elected officials.
“Currently, the City of Turlock has no ordinance to address campaign finance. There are no contribution limits, no conflicts of interest created by receiving large contributions, and in fact, there is not a single mention of campaign finance in the City’s entire municipal code,” said Nascimento. “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.”
In California, the Fair Political Practices Commission currently places contribution limits to state candidates for each separate election. The Governor, for example, is limited to receiving $27,000 from an individual person, business entity, a Political Action Committee, and small contributor committees. Although campaign contribution limits exist for a handful of state candidates, such efforts have not kept big money out of, or from influencing, political outcomes.
Even though Nasicmento may not be in a position of authority that would be needed to change large financial contributors’ ability to manipulate state and federal politics, the freshest face on the Turlock City Council might be able to make such a difference locally.
“When I ran for City Council I committed to ensuring that the City would conduct its business openly and transparently,” said Nascimento, who was elected in 2012. “With the introduction of this ordinance, I seek to make good on that commitment.”