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Group Kicks Off Campaign to Limit Contributions

Eureka Reporter
September 25, 2005

Get Involved Today!Last weekend a local citizens' group, the Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights, officially launched a petition drive for a proposed county ordinance.

The ordinance, if approved by voters, would prohibit nonlocal corporations from contributing to elections in Humboldt County.

In three days, volunteer residents collected more than 1,000 signatures. HCCR must collect approximately 4,500 valid signatures by January to qualify for the June 2006 ballot.

"Research has shown that 78 percent of Humboldt County voters believe that corporate participation in elections makes political corruption more likely," said HCCR member Nezzie Wade, 2005 professor of the year at College of the Redwoods. "The community has identified a problem and we're trying to fix it. We not only have the legal right to protect our elections, we have the moral responsibility to do so."

Campaign manager Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap agreed.

"The U.S. Supreme Court has said it will uphold corporate restrictions in political campaigns when such restrictions are necessary to protect the integrity of the democratic process and the confidence of the people in their government," Sopoci-Belknap said. "In recent years Wal-Mart spent almost $250,000 in an attempt to change Eureka's zoning laws and Maxxam Corporation spent over $300,000 in an effort to recall our duly-elected district attorney only three months after he took office. Our right to fair elections and local democracy is under attack, and this ordinance is a common-sense response and solution."

The group originally submitted an ordinance that included a provision that would have prohibited corporations from claiming constitutional protections.

The ordinance was revised last month and now states a single purpose - to prohibit nonlocal corporations from making contributions to elections.

The current ordinance does not prohibit corporations from claiming constitutional rights or otherwise affect individuals.

HCCR also consulted with local and state union leaders to ensure that local unions are not affected by the ordinance. The Humboldt County counsel approved the revised language last week.

"Large, outside corporations are targeting communities like ours," said HCCR spokesperson Yvonne Doble. "These companies are trying to rewrite local laws and elect people who will work for their corporate interests instead of what is best for our community. I was born and raised here, and I hope to raise my children here too - as long as we can protect what makes Humboldt County special. We have a right to preserve our way of life and ensure local control over our elections, which is what this campaign is all about."

"This campaign will receive broad support from across the political spectrum," Sopoci-Belknap said. "This is not about ideology; this is about protecting the integrity of our electoral process. Everyone supports that."

The group holds campaign meetings and petition-gathering trainings on the second and fourth Mondays of every month at the campaign office at 6:30 p.m. The office is located in Old Town Eureka at 350 E St., Suite 102.

The full text of the final ordinance and a list of other campaign events are posted at HCCR's Web site at . The campaign can be reached by phoning (707) 444-0407 or by contacting .

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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!

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