NEWSOM WEIGHS IN ON PUBLIC FINANCING OF MAYORAL
By Angela Hokanson, Bay City News Service
February 8, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom
favors putting the issue of public financing of the city's mayoral
race before the voters, and believes that the ordinance approved
Tuesday by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors should be broadened.
The mayor's office is in support of taxpayers deciding whether
or not public money should be used to fund the mayoral race, Newsom
explained in letter submitted to the supervisors on Tuesday.
"I feel somewhat uncomfortable with elected officials, and
not the voters, approving a program that uses General Fund dollars
to fund political campaigns that could otherwise be spent on investments
in the community," Newsom said in the letter.
The board passed the campaign reform ordinance with a 9-2 vote
on Tuesday. The measure calls for approximately $6.2 million of
public money to be used by qualifying mayoral candidates to finance
their election campaigns.
The cost of the program would be capped at $2 per resident per
Proponents of the ordinance argue that the measure will help
level the playing field for mayoral candidates, helping to ensure
that winning the election is not just about having the most amply
The supervisors who opposed the ordinance, Michela Alioto-Pier
and Sean Elsbernd, share Newsom's view that the issue of public
financing of the mayoral race is best decided by the voters, not
the supervisors themselves.
The legislation that went before the board on Tuesday could be
strengthened, in Newsom's view, with several changes, according
to the letter Newsom sent to the supervisors on Tuesday.
Newsom argues that public financing should be expanded to include
all major citywide elections in San Francisco instead of a select
Newsom also advocates 24-hour disclosure of all contributions
to elected officials within San Francisco starting 45 days prior
to an election. The legislation would also be improved, Newsom
said, if conflict of interest provisions related to contractors
working with the board or elected city officials are incorporated
into the public financing legislation.
"It is apparent that more work can be done to strengthen
the proposed public financing program," Newsom said. "I
am confident that these changes can be made in a timely manner
that will not impact the city's ability to implement public financing
for the next Mayor's race."
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