Running For Office In Santa Monica To Cost $25

Friday, 28 Jun 2013, 9:15:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

Santa Monica City Council members approved an ordinance

Tuesday requiring potential candidates for City office to pay a $25 filing fee.

The proposed ordinance, which also proposed a $300 charge

for material preparations, was split into two portions, allowing Council

members to vote separately on the $25 fee. No action was taken on the $300

preparation fee, meaning no such payment would be required for now.

Council member Kevin McKeown was the sole vote against

the proposal.

During the council discussion, McKeown hoped to put off a

decision on the proposed fees and instead work on creating an efficient system

to determine whether candidates have actual grassroots support.

“We should have some sort of a qualification for

candidates. We’ve had some situations … where people run just for the sake of

running and really don’t intend to win or, more importantly, (have) any intent

to serve the people of this community,” McKeown said.

McKeown suggested perhaps having candidates collect a

nominal donation, perhaps $5, from a certain number of constituents as opposed

to having a candidate merely write a check to pay an administrative fee.

The originally proposed ordinance sought to require those

seeking to be a candidate in one of the City’s local races to pay $325 for

nomination papers and the handling of candidate statements. All candidates

running for City Council, Rent Control Board, Santa Monica Malibu Unified

School District, and Santa Monica College Board would be subject to the $325

fee, if approved.

However, the sentiment on the dais was $300, which would

be assessed for printing and handling of candidate statements, would be too cost

prohibitive for some low-income candidates.

“If one person can pay, all that tells you is that person

has money or that person is backed by somebody who has money,” McKeown stated.

“It doesn’t tell you that candidate has any support, and it means the truly

low-income people in this community will be unable to participate in our

elections. That feels very wrong to me. To charge cash money just feels like

the wrong thing for Santa Monica.”

Previously, anyone seeking to run for a city office did

not have to pay a filing fee.

State law sets the filing fee at $25 for all

municipalities; Council members voted 6 to 1 in favor of the $25 filing fee for

future Santa Monica candidates.

The ordinance will return to the council for a second

reading at its next meeting in July. If the ordinance survives the second

reading, it will become law.

Also approved on first reading: an ordinance assessing a

$27 burglary registration fee for owners of security alarm systems. Under the

ordinance, a security system owner would be assessed a fine of $164.86 if an

SMPD officer responds to a false alarm for a second time within a fiscal year

(July 1 to June 30). The fee and fine would take effect July 1.

Previously, a fine was assessed on the third occurrence

of a false alarm.

Both fees would be subject to an annual automatic

Consumer Price Index, or CPI, increase.

City staff estimates the fine for second false alarms

would generate $175,246 in annual revenue for Santa Monica, while the burglary

alarm registration fee could result in a positive cash flow of $151,200 each

year directed toward City Hall’s coffers.

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