No Heavyweights in Fight For
Elk Grove City Council

Fear of financing keeping candidates from entering? Yesterday was the first day candidates could officially draw papers to enter the ra...

Fear of financing keeping candidates from entering?

Yesterday was the first day candidates could officially draw papers to enter the races for the Elk Grove City Council or mayor. As reported, the mayoral contest is quickly becoming crowded with five entrants and at least one other announced candidate. 

While it will not be surprising to see the first ever mayoral race grow as it will be viewed by many as once of a lifetime opportunity, remember the 20-plus candidates for our first city council in 2000, the city council races have drawn far less interest thus far.

While James White has drawn papers to face incumbent Jim Cooper for the District One seat, he can hardly be considered a heavyweight threat to Cooper. And by heavyweight we are not disparaging White, rather we are talking about his ability to finance a viable campaign.

In his 2010 race against Davis, White did not file a Form 460 report which would indicate contributions to his campaign. It appears that White did not solicit or accept contributions which is actually laudable.

Beyond not having financial resources for his campaign, White was almost invisible in his campaign. White didn't even make it to the candidate forum against opponents Gary Davis and Jimmy Johnson.

Conversely, the last time an incumbent was unseated was in 2008 when Steve Detrick beat Mike Leary. Not only did Detrick announce his intentions fairly early, he committed substantial personal resources to launch his campaign.

Fast forward to today and aside from White's entry, to date there have not been any announcements or rumbling from anyone interested in running against incumbents Cooper or Detrick. Why?

Well there could be any number of reasons - perhaps the populace is happy with the way the city is being governed or perhaps to many people are just to disconnected to care.

The more likely reason is money. Specifically the amount of money needed to commit or raise to run a credible campaign is probably keeping any number of intelligent people from entering the race.

Aside from the risk of financing your own campaign, remember we are still in very tough economy, who really wants to fund raise? As Congressman Dan Lungren wisely noted, he only knew two peers who enjoyed fundraising and they are both in prison.

So until our local campaign finance rules are changed to encourage more participation in our elections, incumbents and candidates with large campaign war chests and their patrons will continue to win elections and dictate the direction of Elk Grove for years to come. This is probably why we are not seeing more qualified people seeking office and why the city council is unlikely to address this problem.

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Anonymous said...

Key word work here is intelligent, something which is sorely lacking in the odd-numbered districts!

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

There are undoubtedly lots of people qualified to run for office in Elk Grove. Those inclined are probably scared off by having to sell their soul to developers and unions to raise the money needed to stand a legitimate chance to win.

Will the city council vote to change local campaign finance laws? Not likely.

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