I was shocked when I ran for Monterey City Council in 2012 to discover that there were no limits on how much money people could donate to political campaigns in the city. Asking friends to contribute a hundred dollars seemed like a huge ask; why would people or groups give thousands of dollars? It seems obvious that allowing unlimited donations would be bad for transparent and representative government but it took me seven years of trying to agendize this item before council approved campaign finance limits. The limit we passed of $500 per individual or organization is still a lot of money to most people but hopefully this will empower regular people to make small dollar donations and know that they can actually make a difference and not be overwhelmed by big dollar, special interest donors. Another obvious benefit is that ideas, issues and records should matter more to electoral success than ability to raise large campaign war chests. Whatever happens in this election, I am proud of this ordinance and am hopeful that it can only make our city government more responsive to the public we serve.
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