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Paul Gallegos, Humboldt County District Attorney (6 mins)
Kaitlin-Sopoci-Belknap, Campaign Co-Manager for Measure T (19 mins)
John Bonifaz, Attorney and Founder of the National Voting Rights Institute (17 mins)
Rebecca S. Bender, Eureka Reporter
Humboldt County sent a message to out-of-area corporations looking to throw their weight around in local elections Tuesday night: Go away.
Measure T, also called the Ordinance to Protect Our Right to Fair Elections and Local Democracy, would prohibit non-local corporations from donating to county elections.
“We’re really excited!” enthused campaign co-manager Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap said close to midnight on Tuesday. “We’re very proud of our community — but we’re not surprised!”
As of press time, with 94 percent of precincts reporting, Measure T was ahead with 54.97 percent of votes stacking up in its favor and 45.03 percent against.
Absentee ballots, reported shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m., fell along a similar divide, with 52 percent yes votes and 48 percent no, giving an initial indication of which way the vote might go.
Hearing those early results, Sopoci-Belknap optimistically noted that, in general, absentee voters tend to be more conservative.
“So what it tells us is that conservatives voted for T,” she said.
Although some outlying precincts remained unreported long into the night, opponents of Measure T conceded the race around 10 p.m., based on the 84 percent of precinct results that were in.
“We’re disappointed,” admitted Chris Crawford, chair of the No on Measure T Committee. “But the job is not done. We made lots of pledges during this campaign... and I think we need to pursue the $500 cap on all campaign donations.”
He said that he’d be asking the Eureka Chamber of Commerce, which following a poll of its members voted to oppose Measure T, to begin working on a proposal to that effect as soon as practicable.
Sopoci-Belknap said she looked forward to seeing the dialogue continue.
“It’s on the table now,” she said, “and it’s on the table because of Measure T.”
Although she declared herself firmly in favor of campaign finance reform, she said she’d prefer to see an expenditure limit rather than a donation limit explored.
While Crawford emphasized that he has no interest in instigating a lawsuit against the ordinance, he sees the prospect of one as inevitable.
“Measure T is fatally flawed,” he said. “It’s going to be challenged by someone, and when it does, it’s going to be very hard to defend.”
However, he added, the dialogue that had been prompted by the campaign was in itself a positive development, and the diverse group of people that had gathered around the No on T effort was “heartwarming.”
“In the end, this should not be a lose-win situation,” he said. “We all win if we can put an end to the out-of-control campaign spending.”
For her part, Sopoci-Belknap didn’t foresee any downtime in the immediate future. As Measure T gained more attention, she said, a number of communities had been contacting the Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights with in interest in implementing similar ordinances.
“Humboldt County is a wonderful place,” she said. “We stood up for our rights over corporate rights — we’ve done it before and we did it again.”
Humboldt County Leaders Endorse Measure T!
Democratic Party of Humboldt County
Green Party of Humboldt County
Central Labor Council of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local #1684
Building and Construction Trades of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties
Carpenters Union Local #751
Operating Engineers Union Local #3 AFL-CIO
Paul Gallegos, Humboldt County District Attorney
Peter LaVallee, Eureka Mayor
Chris Kerrigan, Eureka City Council
Dave Meserve, Arcata City Council
Harmony Groves, Arcata City Council
Paul Pitino, Arcata City Council
Bob Ornelas, Former Arcata Mayor
Connie Stewart, Former Arcata Mayor
Elizabeth Conner, Former Arcata City Council
Julie Fulkerson, Former Humboldt County Board of Supervisors
... and hundreds of other individuals and local businesses! Join us today!
Learn more about Measure T in a Pros and Cons Video, produced by Eileen McGee (51 mins)
Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights