Growing up, I never imagined I could one day have the opportunity to represent my community in elected leadership. A system of governance and elections that is not transparent and accessible to all undermines the foundation of our democracy as well as the legitimacy of our institutions. That’s why Campbell ought to be a leader in campaign finance reform and good governance.
Currently, residents and journalists alike must request campaign finance reports from the City Clerk’s office. Posting these online will increase transparency and trust in government as well as free up valuable staff time.
Efforts for online transparency will require no extra staff time because the City Clerk’s office already scans all campaign finance reports and hosts them online — they are simply not made accessible.
Currently, Campbell lacks almost any local regulations around campaign spending. Anyone who is a U.S. citizen, whether a Campbell resident or not, can make unlimited contributions to candidates. This includes special interest groups.
We can change this by imposing contribution limits, with potentially lower limits for non-Campbell residents. As our local press shrinks, increased campaign transparency and campaign finance regulations are more important than ever. We must also increase the frequency of reporting periods for campaigns. Currently occurring on a semi-annual basis, these reporting periods are generally the only time when local residents and journalists can gain insight into a campaign’s spending. However, this is near impossible when reporting periods only happen twice a year.
I will explore and study a pilot version of a public campaign financing system for Campbell to see whether implementation would be feasible. Such programs make our democracy more accessible to all by lowering the limits to launch a successful campaign.
Depending on the design of the program and the conditions upon which public funds are contingent, these programs can also decrease overall spending and offer increased transparency. We have a unique opportunity at this moment in Campbell’s history because of the recent move to district elections, which will theoretically make it easier and cheaper to launch a campaign to represent your community.
I will draw on my work with the best and the brightest from academia and the private sector to design and implement an annual Digital Innovation Fellowship.
Funding for the program will come from outside sources such as nonprofit partners. Fellows will work each year to make Campbell the most innovative City in America, with some of the projects focused on creative solutions for government transparency and accessibility.
It is critical that the public is able to comment and actively participate in Council meetings regardless of whether they are held in-person or online.
In a post-pandemic world, I will ensure the City has access to secure and accessible digital systems to allow for City business and public accountability, as well as avenues for community engagement.