If the Long Beach City Council truly aims to expand and popularize representative democracy in our city, it has the authority to enact an ordinance that would provide a limited but reasonably adequate and equal amount of public funding for each candidate for a given municipal office.
Eligibility for public funds should not be based on the ability of a candidate to raise large amounts of monies from private sources. Such a requirement defeats the basic purpose of campaign finance reform; namely, to eliminate the inordinate influence a relatively few big dollar contributors have on the outcome of municipal elections. Instead eligibility should be based on the demonstrated potential of a candidate to obtain a significant number of votes in a given election. The ability of a candidate to obtain a prescribed number of nominating signatures of registered voters could be used to determine eligibility.
The reason put forward by a number of council members for not simply enacting an effective campaign finance reform ordinance into law is that the people of Long Beach will have to bear the financial burden and, therefore, they should make the final decision. It is a laudable but not credible reason. Every week, thousands of Long Beach residents pay many thousands of dollars in fees, fines, etc., based on direct legislative actions of the majority of the City Council.