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Politics: Leveling the Field in Campaigns

March 24, 1994

As a candidate for Torrance City Council who did not seek or accept any special interest money, I had the smallest amount of money on hand to run a campaign, and as a result I had the smallest amount of votes. For money brings exposure and exposure delivers votes.

The costs of packaging and selling a candidate by political consultants via the mails is expensive, and unless one is affluent, one has to appeal to the special interests for their financial assistance. Please note that conventional wisdom used to be that it would take $10,000 to be considered a credible candidate. Once all the costs are in for 1994's City Council election, it will be demonstrated that it took up to $20,000 to run a credible campaign. Do the voters of Torrance know and want special interests influencing their civic leaders?

So, what is the solution? Campaign reform is a step in the right direction, but I will not hold my breath. One has to be realistic of taking away special interest influence, especially after their past support of some of the successful candidates. Further, do we want to restrict people's ability to give money away? The realistic solution is greater exposure of all candidates via our cable system. I offer the following considerations.

1. Televise a minimum of six candidates forums live on primary CitiCable channel.

2. Televise the one-on-one interviews sponsored by the League of Woman Voters during prime time, not early in the morning.

3. Dedicate 30-second public service spots of all the candidates on regular commercial cable channels.

Without the even exposure of all candidates expressing their ideas and visions, we will suffer as a community, for only the candidates beholden to special interests will get the mass exposure that brings results. The high costs of running a credible campaign will discourage future candidates unless they too are beholden to the power of special interests.

In order for us to move into the 21st Century, we need all the ideas and visions of all points of view. Without these ideas, we will not excel to our fullest potential as a community. Let's be bold and truly open up democracy for all the wonderful opportunities it holds.


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