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We Get Letters: Community Leaders, Advocates, and Residents Urge Mayor, Council to Pass Campaign Finance Reform Measure

Published on Thursday, October 21, 2021 | 2:04 pm

We, the undersigned local community leaders, advocates, and residents respectfully urge Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo and Pasadena’s Councilmembers to pass crucially needed campaign finance reform to fulfill Mayor Gordo’s promise of ensuring Pasadena’s “local city government is responsive…and accountable to residents,” and exemplifies “a Pasadena that truly listens, is inclusive of everyone, [and] stands with our families, our seniors, and our youth.”

Specifically, we call on Mayor Gordo and Councilmembers to:
(i) RESCIND the Council’s August 16 vote instructing the preparation of an ordinance codifying into law unlimited campaign contributions from donors to city candidates (exploiting a loophole in state law that allows local jurisdictions to circumvent the default state donor limit, which is currently $4,900 per contributor to city candidates); and
(ii) PLACE reasonable per-contributor limits on direct funding of local campaigns, in keeping with sensible surrounding cities like Los Angeles, Alhambra, and South Pasadena, as well as dozens of local jurisdictions across Southern California. (For example, Los Angeles with a population of almost 4 million has a $800 limit as of 2020, in contrast to Pasadena with a population of about 140,000.)

Our request is based on the following:

• The City of Pasadena is one of the two most unequal cities in California, with an ever widening economic divide. Moneyed interests have far too much sway in Pasadena politics, which we believe has led to questionable city policies and unequal representation.

• We are in agreement with the Campaign Legal Center which states:
“The First Amendment guarantees every American the right to participate fully in the political process. It is well-known that the dependence of political candidates on wealthy special interests is a serious flaw in our political system, and makes elected officials responsive to their large donors rather than to the public. The tremendous power of special interest money in politics often drowns out the voice of everyday Americans, threatens our First Amendment freedoms, and erodes the foundations of our entire democracy.”
The Center also said that to restore fairness to our political system, the passing and enforcing of strong campaign finance reforms that help guarantee a democracy responsive to the people is urgently needed, including placing reasonable limits on funding of campaigns, complete transparency of campaign spending, and public financing of elections. (Campaign Legal Center 2020; Brennan Center 2018; Public Citizen 2020; Common Cause 2016)

It is unreasonable and ethically suspect that any city should have contribution limits higher than that imposed upon state candidates. The California Legislature adopted state ethics law AB 571 effective January 1, 2021 imposing state contribution limits for state elections as default limits for county and city elections, with the ability for local jurisdictions to establish different limits. The default state limit this year is $4,900 per contributor to city candidates.

• When given the chance to participate democratically in setting campaign finance limits, citizens are clear that they want limits, and understand the danger of the undue influence of wealthy donors. After a citywide referendum, sister city Alhambra voted overwhelmingly (by over 76%) last year to adopt comprehensive campaign finance reform with an inflation-adjusted local campaign contribution limit of $250 for candidates running in by-district elections. There are other California cities with similar or lower donor limits, which is often based on a municipality’s size and electoral format.

We are alarmed that Pasadena voted on August 16 to place no dollar limits on local campaign contributions, with a first reading of the ordinance to be conducted October 18 (and codification effective after two readings).

Pasadena City Council is unjustified in claiming contribution limits for state candidates are too low for Pasadena Mayoral and City Council candidates. Rather, stricter limits would (i) provide incentives to candidates to build a broader base of smaller contributors to be viable; (ii) empower smaller donors as well as expand the pool of potential candidates to include those with no ties to big money thus enabling wider representation among the populace; and (iii) induce greater candidate-constituent interaction and messaging, as opposed to the current practice of blanketing a district with cookie-cutter political mailers.

It’s time now for Mayor Victor Gordo and Pasadena Councilmembers to lead the fight for a truly inclusive local city government. We urge you, Mayor Gordo and Councilmembers, to stand with our families and communities in urgently drafting and voting on a municipal ordinance to place reasonable limits per contributor on funding of local campaigns in Pasadena, following the lead of dozens of other Southern California cities. Doing so would engender trust in Pasadena city leaders and candidates and help create a City that is truly more inclusive of everyone.

In Hope for the Welfare of Our City and Nation,

Signed: (by city, in alphabetical order; affiliations noted for identification purposes only)

Residents of Pasadena (104)

Stephen Akuginow, Pasadena resident
Maureen Allen, Pasadena resident
Pat Amsbry, Pasadena resident; Board of Directors & Chair Emeritus, Rose Bowl Aquatics Center
Cheryl Auger, Pasadena resident; President, Ban SUP/Ban SUP Refill
Helen Bacon, Pasadena resident
Edda Suzanne Barber, Pasadena resident
Diane Becera, Pasadena resident
James Beck, Pasadena resident
Ryan Bell, Pasadena resident; 2020 Pasadena City Council candidate; City Commissioner, Pasadena Northwest Commission;
CA Democratic Party delegate, AD 41
Sonja Berndt, Pasadena resident
Maryanne Berry, Pasadena resident
Brian Biery, Pasadena Resident
Robert Bilheimer, Pasadena resident
Austin Blodgett, Pasadena resident
Simon Bluestone, Pasadena resident
Colin Bogard, Pasadena resident, Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition
Katherine Breeden, Pasadena resident
Claire Spiegel Brian, Pasadena resident
Tim Brick, Pasadena resident
Robert Bruce, Pasadena resident
Tasha Busch-Arratia, Pasadena resident
Allen Cappuccilli, Pasadena resident
Margaret Cameron, Pasadena resident; Member, West Pasadena Residents Association
Angel Castillo, Pasadena resident; Member, DSA-LA & Pasadena Tenants Union
Mary Cifuentes, Pasadena resident
Jennifer Collins, LCSW, Pasadena resident; PUSD parent and Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Ramona Coronado Pasadena resident
Areta Crowell, Pasadena resident
William Denman, Pasadena resident
Julie DiazMartinez, Pasadena resident
Thomas Dickey, Pasadena resident
William Dickson, Pasadena resident
William Dowell, Pasadena resident; Member, Pasadena Tenants’ Union
John Doyle, Pasadena resident; PUSD Parent and 2024 Pasadena City Council candidate, District 4; CA Democratic Party delegate, AD 41
Kimberly Drake, Ph.D., Pasadena resident; Member, Neighbors of North Raymond
Christine Echeverri, Pasadena resident
David Erickson, Pasadena resident;
Ellen Finkelpearl, Ph.D., Pasadena resident; Classics Professor; CA Democratic Party delegate, AD 41
Tina Fredericks, Pasadena resident; PUSD parent; CA Democratic Party Executive Board/delegate, AD 41
Betty Garcia, Pasadena resident
Andrew Good, Pasadena resident; Volunteer, Pasadena For All
Sandra B. Greenstein, Pasadena resident
Maza Guzmán, Pasadena resident, Green New Now
Andrea Davis Griffin, Ph.D., Pasadena resident; Owner, Greenhouse Therapy
Emily Gross, Pasadena resident
Erin Gunn, Pasadena resident
Allison Henry, Pasadena resident; San Gabriel Valley Tenants Alliance, Housing Element Task Force member
Claire Hoffman, Pasadena resident; PUSD teacher
Dan Huynh, Pasadena resident
Charles Jacobsen, Pasadena resident; Member, Throop Unitarian Universalist Church
Geoffrey Jost, MLIS, Pasadena resident; Software Developer
Una Lee Jost, Esq., Pasadena resident; PUSD parent and Attorney; CA Democratic Party delegate, AD 41 (2019-2021)
Laurie Kietzman-Greer, Pasadena resident
Kai Kuwata, Pasadena resident
Wendy Kuwata, Pasadena resident
Bin Lee, Pasadena resident
Claudi Llanos, Pasadena resident
Joanne Long, Pasadena resident; Pasadena For All
Kathleen Mann, Pasadena resident
Anthony Manousos, Pasadena resident; Make Housing and Community Happen Co-Founder
Joshua Marmol, Pasadena resident; PUSD parent; CA Democratic Party delegate alternate, AD 41
Aaron Markowitz, Pasadena resident; Member, Pasadena Tenants Union
Liberty McCoy, Pasadena resident; Member, Pasadena Tenants Union
Christy Moision, Pasadena resident; PUSD Parent; Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition
Sam Morrissey, Pasadena resident
Bradley Moore, Pasadena resident
Lambda Moses, Pasadena resident
Kyle Murphy, Pasadena resident
Kaveh Naeeni, Pasadena resident; CA Democratic Party delegate, LACCC; LA County Democratic Party delegate, AD 41
Robert Nelson, Ph.D., Pasadena resident; JPL senior research scientist (ret.); Planetary Science Institute senior scientist; CA Democratic Party Executive Board member (2019-2021) and delegate, AD 41
Bert Newton, Pasadena resident
Gloria Newton, Pasadena resident
Okorie Okorocha, Pasadena resident
Jane Panangaden, Pasadena resident; Member, Pasadena Tenants Union
Teresa Parsekian, Pasadena resident
Brooke Peterson, Pasadena resident
Mindy Pfeiffer, Pasadena resident; Co-President, Washington Square Neighborhood Association
Chris Peck, Pasadena resident; President, CM Peck Inc.
Peggy Renner, Ph.D., Pasadena resident; CA Democratic Party delegate, AD 41
Wesley Reutimann, Pasadena resident; Co-organizer, Pasadena Environmental Advocates (PEAs)
Brian Ridley, Pasadena resident
Denise Robb, Ph.D., Pasadena resident; PUSD parent and Political Science Professor
Virginia Robbins, Pasadena resident; Democrat
Brigitte Rooney, Pasadena resident; Member, Pasadena Tenants Union
Adam Rosenkranz, Pasadena resident
Jessica Rusk, Pasadena resident
Caryn Sakuda, Pasadena resident
David Sniezko, Pasadena resident
Frank Scoffield, Pasadena resident; Gang Preventionist; Member, Pasadena Mennonite Church; Graduate, Fuller Theological Seminary
Candace Seu, Pasadena resident
Donna Sider, Pasadena resident
Alan Siems, Pasadena resident
Bonnie Skolnik, Pasadena resident
John Smallenburg, Pasadena resident, Member, United Teachers of Pasadena
Tyler Smith, Pasadena resident
Marcy Springer, Pasadena resident
Amanda Steiman, Pasadena resident
Victor Suarez, Pasadena resident
Julie Tannenbaum, Pasadena resident
Mitchell Tsai, Esq., Pasadena resident; CA Democratic Party delegate, LACCC; LA County Democratic Party delegate, AD 41
Richard Valencia, Pasadena resident
Andi Wammack, Pasadena resident; PUSD parent
Beau Wammack, Pasadena resident; PUSD parent
Hesham Zaini, Pasadena resident

Friends of Pasadena (42)

Sam Berndt, Altadena resident, JPL engineer, Sunrise Movement Los Angeles Co-Founder, CA Democratic Party delegate, AD 41
Victoria Carbé-Chen, Altadena resident
Steven Gibson, Ph.D., Altadena resident; Scholar/Author, Vice President of Campaigns, Democrats of Pasadena Foothills; CA Democratic Party delegate, AD 41
Charlotte Gibson, Altadena resident; Member, Democrats of Pasadena Foothills
Todd Jones, Altadena resident, JPL scientist; CA Democratic Party delegate, LACCC; LA County Democratic Party elected member,
AD 41
Julie McKune, Altadena resident; Member, League of Women Voters & POP!; CA Democratic Party delegate, AD 41 (2019-2021)
Jamie Perlman, Altadena resident
Anne Tipton, Altadena resident
Katie Chan, Alhambra resident; CA Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Secretary; CA Democratic Party delegate, AD 49
Gerry Fagoaga, M.F.T., Alhambra resident; Marriage and Family Therapist (ret.); Grassroots Alhambra Co-Founder
Melissa Michelson, Alhambra resident; President, Feel the Bern Democratic Club, Los Angeles; CA Democratic Party delegate,
LACCC; LA County Democratic Party elected member, AD49
Efren Moreno, Jr., Alhambra resident; Member, Grassroots Alhambra
Lili Munoz, Alhambra resident
Chris Olson, Alhambra resident; Board member, Grassroots Alhambra
Tatiana Becker, Arcadia resident
Leslie Chang, Arcadia resident; CA Democratic Party delegate, AD 49
Andrea Garcia-Ponce De Leon, Azusa resident; Executive Director, Project Amiga
Denis Recendez, Azusa resident; Member, Democrats of Pasadena Foothills, DSA-LA, and San Gabriel Valley Progressives; CA Democratic Party delegate, LACCC; LA County Democratic Party elected member, AD48
Michael Boos, Claremont resident; Executive Board & Corresponding Secretary, Democratic Club of Claremont; CA Democratic
Party delegate, AD 41 (2019-21)
Susan Castagnetto, Claremont resident, Consumer Advocate; CA Democratic Party alternate delegate, AD 41
Pamela Nagler, Claremont resident; CA Democratic Party delegate, AD 41 (2019-21)
Jack Weidner, Claremont resident
Gabriel Ramirez, El Monte resident; CA Democratic Party delegate, AD 49; LA County Democratic Party alternate member, AD49; Member, Feel The Bern Democratic Club Los Angeles
Sean Broadbent, Glendale resident; Co-Chair, DSA-LA Healthcare Justice Committee; CA Democratic Party delegate, AD 43
Mike Van Gorder, Glendale resident
Ryan Thompson, Glendora resident
Michael Daurio, Los Angeles resident; CA Democratic Party delegate, AD 53
Lex F., Los Angeles resident
Kate Grodd, Los Angeles resident
Jeanine Rohn, Los Angeles resident; CA Democratic Party delegate, LACCC; LA County Democratic Party delegate, AD 51
Sara D. Roos, Los Angeles resident; Biostatistician/Education Writer; CA Democratic Party delegate, LACCC; LA County Democratic Party elected member, AD 54
Andrea Vocos, Los Angeles resident; Community Organizer, LA Voice
Patricia Hernandez, Monrovia resident; Member, DSA-LA
David Ly, Rosemead resident
Lorena Gutierrez, San Gabriel resident
Paul Cole Padilla, San Gabriel resident; CA Democratic Party delegate, LACCC; LA County Democratic Party elected member, AD49
Sean McMorris, San Gabriel resident; President, Represent.Us San Gabriel Valley-Los Angeles Chapter; CA Democratic Party delegate, AD 49
Keith Berman, MPH, MBA, Sierra Madre resident
Gabriel Chen, Sierra Madre resident
Cindy Montoya, Sierra Madre resident; CA State Survivor Lead, Moms Demand Action; CA Democratic Party delegate, AD 41
Katie Dempster, South Pasadena resident
Mona Talamantes, South Pasadena resident

Groups (6)

Green New Now
Progressive Asian Network for Action
Represent.US, Los Angeles-San Gabriel Valley Chapter
San Gabriel Valley Progressive Alliance
Urban Ecology Project

Signatory list will be updated on a periodic basis as signatures are added.

For more information, visit the “Pasadena for Ethics in Politics” Facebook Group: @MoneyOutOfPasadenaPolitics

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