Berkeley City Council votes to amend election reform act, election campaign practices

Related Posts

At its meeting Tuesday, the Berkeley City Council voted to pass an ordinance to amend the Berkeley Election Reform Act of 1974 and reform election campaign practices in the city of Berkeley.

Five parts of the proposed six-part ordinance were passed at the meeting and will be enacted if passed once more at a second reading, according to chair of the Fair Campaign Practices Commission Steve Wollmer. The five passed amendments will be enacted 30 days after passing the second reading and will be in place for the November 2012 election cycle.

The five passed amendments of the ordinance introduce a number of changes into Berkeley election law such as allowing the city to post election contribution information online rather than in a newspaper and implementing a penalty system for campaign violations.

The fifth amendment, which is a requirement that major campaign contributions of more than $250 be included in campaign literature mailed to residents, was not passed and met with a number of concerns from councilmembers.

One of the most vocal criticisms of the fifth amendment was that it did not account for monetary campaign contributions or loans from candidates themselves. The ordinance has been referred back to the commission, which will most likely submit one version including documentation of candidate contributions and one excluding it, Wolmer said.

“I would like to see loans treated as contributions,” said Councilmember Laurie Capitelli at the meeting.

The amendment will be discussed by the commission on May 3. The Fair Campaign Practices Commission can then resubmit different versions of the unpassed amendment to the council at a future meeting, Wolmer said.

Jaehak Yu covers city government.