Monday, November 1, 2010

Stopping incumbent protection through limited public funding of Water District elections

Like water recycling, I've talked about this idea a few times at public events and so I wanted to make sure to get the idea out on the blog. While I've been very hesitant to propose any increase in spending for the District, my proposal to cut Director compensation by over 50% would easily pay for limited public funding of Water District elections. We need some real reform at the level of the District Board, and this is an important way to level the playing field between incumbents and challengers.

The idea is to budget $25,000 annually for the elections. Since elections occur only ever other year, that would leave $50,000 available for an election. All candidates could get matching funds for the first $50 of a contribution by an individual to that candidate (someone donating a large amount only gets $50 matched, another equalizing element), up to a total maximum amount per candidate. Even if this program had $10,000 in administrative costs, it would still leave a reasonable chunk of money to match small contributions. And my proposal to cut Director compensation from over $30,000 annually per Director to less than half would more than compensate for this cost.

I do have to emphasize this is a just a general idea, and if the details prove it unworkable, then so be it. I think it could work though, and it could be an important part of democratic reform at the District Board.

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