Edmonds City Councilmember Steve Bernheim proposed a draft ordinance at Tuesday night’s council meeting that would limit campaign contributions to $750 for city council and mayoral elections.
Under the proposal, a candidate’s own funds and volunteer services would not count, but in-kind and cash contributions would be limited to $750. Bernheim has asked Council President D.J. Wilson to put the item on an upcoming Edmonds City Council agenda for discussion.
There are no current limits to contributions to City Council and Mayor races, Bernheim said. Anyone may contribute an unlimited amount, except that no one may give more than $5,000 during the last three weeks before an election.
In a news release sent Wednesday morning to My Edmonds News, Bernheim said he is proposing the limit because he doesn’t want local races in Edmonds to remain among the most expensive in the State.
“Historically, the record contribution for Edmonds City Council races is $3,000: given once this year by candidate’s out-of-state relative and in 2007 by a local resident and by a Seattle real estate partnership,” he said. “Several recent city council campaigns have cost more than $30,000.”
Bernheim said he believes that Edmonds voters prefer that local election campaigns be financed with modest local contributions from individual residents, and want candidates spend more time talking with voters, not raising money. “In order to encourage a broad range of choices for the voters, qualified candidates should not be deterred from running just because others can raise large sums of cash from a small number of corporate or out-of-Edmonds contributors,” he says.
Historically, the record contribution for Edmonds City Council races is $3,000, and that as occurred twice: which was given once during the most recent election by a candidate’s out-of-state relative and in 2007 by a local resident and by a Seattle real estate partnership. Several recent city council campaigns have cost more than $30,000.
Most city council candidates announced their general support for limiting campaign contributions at the Aug. 10 South County Senior Center candidate forum, Bernheim said, although no candidate specified a maximum contribution amount.
At Tuesday night’s council meeting, Council President Wilson noted that the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission already tells citizens how much money candidates receive and from whom. A $750 limit “would be one of the most restrictive in the country” and would encourage campaigns to be self-financed, Wilson added.