It’s expensive to run for public office, even in our relatively small town. In the 2018 City Council race, the five candidates raised a combined total of over $200,000. Almost $37 was raised for each vote cast for or against Measure K.
Campaign financing is a double-edge sword: on the one hand, it’s a way of showing which candidates and ballot measures have generated sufficient support among the populace to make them competitive. On the other hand, special interests can leverage their deep pockets to influence the outcome.
Transparency is the key. To that end, campaign finance laws require candidates to declare all contributions large and small. In California, candidates for all public offices must file a California Form 460 several times during the election cycle to document the source and amount of all campaign contributions. This gives voters an opportunity to factor in contributions to candidates when casting their ballot.
Anybody can access California Form 460 filings on the Secretary of State’s website. In addition, the Alameda City Clerk posts filings for all local candidates on the city’s website.
To enable Alameda voters to better understand the source of campaign funds without wading through these lengthy reports, the League of Women Voters of Alameda is translating these numbers into easily-understood graphics during each election. The graphics compare campaign funds by the location of contributor, the type of contributor and the size of contributions. Tables for each contest itemize contributions of $1,000 or more. At the end of each campaign we also show the amount each campaign raised per vote received.
Please let us know if you find this information helpful and what further we can do to increase your knowledge of the source of funding for each candidate and measure in future elections.